4 Paws 4 Patriots Offers 4 Free Service Dog Program Options.

Regardless of which program is selected, in order for a dog to graduate it must:
Complete a minimum of 4 months of documented professionally supervised obedience instruction to include extensive socialization, sit, down, come, heal and stay both on and off the leash. The dog must also pass the test using verbal, clicker and hand commands.
Complete and pass the AKC canine good citizens test.
Complete at least 6 months of public access training and pass the test.
Complete a minimum of 4 to 8 months of individualized disability related training. This training is intense and focused, directed at teaching behaviors serving the needs of the recipient.

4 Paws 4 Patriots Offers 4 Free Service Dog Program Options.

Program 1 dogs are acquired between 8-12 weeks of age. They are specifically hand picked and bred to be service dogs. Our program uses almost exclusively Labrador Retrievers, although occasionally a Golden Retriever. These dogs begin training at a very early age starting with housebreaking, and manners. Often if you see one of our trainers that is not working with an older dog, they will be accompanied by a one of these puppies. Socialization is the key while these dogs are young. From the mall to the grocery store, to the auto races and everything in between, these dogs need to be exposed to as many different environments as possible. These dogs typically are the ones that go on to become mobility dogs. By the time they are presented to the recipient, they are very highly skilled at their jobs and have had in excess of 1,000 hours of extensive training. This type of dog typically partners with a veteran that has suffered severe physical conditions such as loss of limb(s). They are the most expensive and time consuming dogs that we provide. As reported on a national scale, the cost to purchase, raise and train this dog type often exceeds $20,000 and that includes many volunteer hours also. Yes, they are expensive, but the difference they make in a disabled veterans life is priceless.

Program 2 Dogs offer us a bit more versatility in selecting a Candidate Dog. These dogs may come from a shelter, pet owner that needs to re-home or a vetenarian. After an assessment of the dogs suitability for the recipients needs and a veterinarians examination, these dogs are extensively tested for temperament and trainability. After successfully passing all criteria the dog commenses training at our facility. Typically these dogs are trained for PTSD, hearing loss, and sometimes mobility issues. The cost of theses dogs vary, however they generally offer a considerable savings over a Program 1 dog.

Program 3 is a supervised self training. Sometimes a disabled veteran wants to train the dog themselves. We believe this is often an excellent option, creating not only the closest possible bond between the veteran and the service dog, but often the act of training the service dog itself is extremely therapeutic. After meeting the prerequisites of a Program 2 dog, the veteran and dog are teamed up with one of our professional trainers. Working weekly with the trainer, the veteran performs assigned daily training tasks, beginning with basic obedience training that you may have done with your family pet such as “sit” and “stay”. As the veteran’s confidence and the dog’s skills increase, the training becomes more advanced all the way up to and including a fully trained service dog based on their needs. This training takes place at the veterans home and many public places. The costs of a Program 3 varies widely. It includes transportation for the trainer to the training locations and necessary equipment. A Program 3 dog requires a large time commitment from the disabled veteran; if a dog is falling behind, the trainer may recommend the dog be moved to Program 2 for a period of time.

Every dog we train becomes a Program 4 dog. Program 4 includes training additional behaviors due to additional needs of the recipient over time. As we age our needs change and service dogs require new skills to keep up with changing requirements.