Service Dog Training FAQs
What makes a dog a service dog?
Service dogs are dogs that have been specially trained to assist their handler or owner with specific tasks. Dog Training Elite West Michigan trains dogs to assist people with epilepsy, diabetes, PTSD, autism, and various mental illnesses.
Who are service dogs for?
Service dogs are for any individual dealing with a disability that lowers their quality of life. For example, someone who suffers from epilepsy may avoid going out in public due to a fear of falling or other consequences related to seizures. This may inhibit their independence and sense of well-being.
In addition to improving the lives of individuals, service dogs can bring a sense of security to families, such as families with autistic children. Children with autism can often feel isolated and a service dog becomes a 24/7 companion to share experiences with, connect with and love. They can also help children reintegrate into society and connect with others.
Families who have children with autism experience a decrease in stress as they are more able to engage socially in public settings and experience less anxiety at home. A service dog increases safety and has a calming presence that can minimize emotional outbursts, allowing the family to feel more secure and a child with autism to better participate in family activities.
Service dogs are for all individuals or families that are experiencing a decrease in quality of life due to disability.
What kind of training does a service dog need?
Service dog training begins with puppies. Dog Training Elite West Michigan’s service puppy training program works with breeders to adopt puppies that are fully obedience trained by six months and are ready to undergo extensive socialization and additional training to ensure they are well-suited for service and therapy needs.
Then, Dog Training Elite West Michigan places puppies with families or individuals. Further specialized service training takes place alongside the new handler. It generally takes 1-2 years for a service dog to become fully trained.
Service dog training focuses on two main areas: public access behaviors, and how to “do work or perform tasks” that assist with a disability.
Public access behaviors refer to how a service dog acts in public - well-trained service dogs remain calm in public situations and in turn help their handlers to stay calm, and are attuned to any other handler needs.
As for “do work or perform tasks,” the ADA requires that service dogs be trained to take a specific action when needed to assist the person with a disability.
For example, to assist handlers with PTSD, Dog Training Elite West Michigan trains dogs to de-escalate anxiety, wake handlers experiencing night terrors, and so on.
Do service dogs require special certification?
The ADA does not require special certification for service animals. State and local government agencies, businesses and non-profit organizations may not require documentation, such as proof that the animal has been certified, trained or licensed as a service animal, as a condition for entry. Mandatory registration of service animals in the city of residence is also not permissible under the ADA.
However, service animals are not exempt from local animal control or public health requirements, such as vaccinations, or local dog licensing and registration requirements.
Why should I train my service dog with Dog Training Elite West Michigan?
Dog Training Elite West Michigan sets itself apart from other dog training methods by focusing on positive reinforcement with a personalized, in-home approach. This method empowers owners and handlers to be an integral part of the process for sustained dog obedience and service training. For service dogs especially, it is important that handlers be present and involved every step of the way.
The positive reinforcement approach, also referred to as “Classical Conditioning” or the “Pavlovian” model has shown to be more effective with longer lasting results than any other training method.
Dog Training Elite West Michigan does not use punishments or shock collars to break bad habits. Instead, Dog Training Elite West Michigan pairs positive reinforcement training with a vibration electronic collar. An electronic collar is not a shock collar and does not harm the dog. It is used to gain the dog’s attention, similar to a tug on a leash. It is never used as a punishment for bad behavior.
Another unique aspect of training with Dog Training Elite West Michigan is that while most dog training programs train dogs at their own facilities, Dog Training Elite West Michigan specializes in in-home training, customizing training to the dog, its owners and its environment for long-lasting success.
Positive Reinforcement Training
Training takes time, commitment and balance and Dog Training Elite West Michigan is there every step of the way. With Dog Training Elite West Michigan, dogs will learn the highest level of obedience, even in the face of the toughest level of distractions. The positive-reinforcement method focuses on encouraging good behavior through ongoing praise, creating a dog that wants to please from the inside out and creating deep-rooted, sustained obedience as well as a strong bond between dog and owner.
Our Balanced Theory
We base our training around the "Classical Conditioning" model (a.k.a. "Pavlovian" or "respondent conditioning"). This includes developing conditioned or automatic reflexes to commands. In its simplest form (after proper conditioning), when the owner says "sit," the dog automatically sits without thinking about it. Our unique techniques ensure our program is a success no matter what behavior we encounter.
We empower owners to train so their dog knows who to obey at all times.
We deal with problem behaviors on a personal basis.
We train wherever issues tend to arise (i.e. jogging, park, home).
We support owners in the off-hours (when training is "not in session").
We work with all members of the household.
Simplified & Customized
We plan training around the owner's schedule and require only 15 min/day follow-up practice.
Additional programs / group sessions offered after in-home training.
We follow up & are invested in the owner's success long-term.
Our high client satisfaction rating sets us apart from competitors.
clas·si·cal con·di·tion·ing PSYCHOLOGY noun A learning process that occurs when two stimuli are repeatedly paired; a response that is at first elicited by the second stimulus and is eventually elicited by the first stimulus alone.
Proud Sponsor of The Malinois Foundation
At Dog Training Elite West Michigan, we believe that Service Dogs save lives. It is our mission to make these life-saving companions available to our Veterans, First Responders, Women Survivors, and Children with Medical Needs. Whether it be for PTSD, Mobility Support, or Special Needs, Dog Training Elite West Michigan work's with the Malinois Foundation to heal and empower these individuals with a specialized service animal, a partner in life, and a new best friend.