SSDI operates as a non-profit rescue and we specialize in rescuing, rehabilitating, and training large breed dogs. We look for dogs with the drive to work that are eager to please, regardless of their previous background and subjective characteristics.
The dogs that enter our training program have the drive to work and have a job. The dogs rescued from shelters thrive in our program because their drive to work surpasses that of which a nonworking home could provide. We find our rescue dogs to be the hardest working and most loyal. By giving our dogs a job that matches their own drive, they are motivated to progress through our training program and be successful after graduation.
We work alongside local animal services centers to rescue dogs unsuitable for general adoption due to their work drive, we evaluate surrender cases, and we directly rescue others in need.
Here at SSDI, we believe in intelligence, not obedience. We use training methods that allow our dogs to predict the world in a logical way to make informed decisions about their actions. We teach our dogs concepts, an understanding that can be transferred and applied to situations the dog has never encountered before. These concepts are used by our dogs to navigate their environment with confidence and autonomy.
We teach commands to our dogs during the training process as a foundation in order to teach the body positions and body movements necessary for task training and public access. Once our dogs are trained, the goal is to only use commands in situations where you want the dog to do something contrary to what the dog would have naturally predicted (ex: You walk up to a restaurant table and want the dog to lay next to a table instead of laying underneath it.).
Additionally, we believe in individualized training programs for each of our dogs. Our dogs are not purpose bred for service work, we do not operate a breeding program; instead we rescue dogs from local shelters (what we call "the largest breeding program in the world"). Since each of our dogs has a unique history, there is no one cookie cutter that could fit all of them. We use the unique motivators of each dog to match training rewards as they progress through our Service Dog Training Program. We utilize all forms of training; behavior capture, social learning, lure training, shaping, behavior chaining, mimicking, and more to optimize the dog's understanding.