A Program For YOU
Individuality is paramount to maximizing the benefits of service dog teams. We embrace individuality in the education of both our life-saving service dogs and our clients looking for assistance.
In our Academy program, we teach and encourage our dogs to make choices. Each of our academy dogs is afforded the unique opportunity to choose the type of service dog they ultimately become. We find that when you like your job, you excel at it! Our dogs are trained using their unique motivators and progress at their own pace through our 7 phase training program.
Our clients are also given the opportunity to work with their medical team to determine what tasks would benefit them, rather than having all dogs trained for the same skills. Working with each of our client's medical teams we can create a list of tasks that complements their existing treatment plan. Since we focus on the individual we are able to take a descriptive approach where symptoms are mitigated with specialized tasks rather than a prescriptive approach focused on diagnoses.
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.
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.
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.
" A service dog is a finely tuned instrument, but the handler still must learn how to be a musician" (Starfleet Service Dogs, Inc.). Service dogs work in a dyad; something that consists of two elements or parts. The handler is one part and the dog is the other. They must both possess the abilities and knowledge to successfully interact with each other and the world around them to be part of an effective working team.
Our Service Dog Training Program gives our dogs the tools they need to succeed with a knowledgeable handler.
Our Service Dog Handler Training Program gives our clients the skills needed to benefit from one of our dogs. In this program clients learn about animal care, training theory, body language, communication, service dog legislation, and more. Our goal is to give our clients information so that they feel confident in themselves and in their service dogs so that they feel inspired to live a fulfilled life.