Training a service dog at home for use by you or a loved one.
UDS can also help you raise and train your own service dog in your home. An average dog matures between two and three years of age, so our service dog training program lasts for two years. We work with individuals who live within four hours of our Lancaster facility.
The UDS Service Dogs program is accredited by Assistance Dogs International.
Getting Started with Our Service Dog Program
Please note that this program is NOT for people who already have a dog in their home. Our trainers will help you find the right puppy. Here’s an overview of the owner-trained service dog process:
- The first step is completing our Owner-Trained Program Application.
- Prior to purchasing a puppy, you must attend three service dog classes in order to observe our training techniques, meet our volunteers and dogs in training, and have the opportunity to ask questions.
- You’ll then watch a 60-minute video about the responsibilities of dog ownership to make sure this is the right choice for you. Our program manager will provide you with this video after we receive your application.
- Finally, you’ll work with our service dog trainers to select a reputable breeder and a high-quality puppy. Puppies 12 weeks old and younger are acceptable for our program. We do not train pets in the home.
Suggestions for Choosing a Reputable Breeder
- Ask to meet the puppy’s mother and father and request proof that genetic health testing was done on both of them.
- Watch how the dogs in the home interact with the breeder. Are they friendly and outgoing, or do they shy away?
- Ask the breeder what the breed’s congenital health defects are. If they answer “none” or “I don’t know,” don’t choose them. A good breeder should tell you everything they know.
- The breeder wants a good home for their puppy, so they may ask you questions. Don’t feel rushed. This is a huge decision and commitment, so make sure it feels right for both you and the puppy.
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Your Responsibilities As a Trainer
Training a service dog at home requires time and discipline. Once you start the Service Dog Program, you must attend a minimum of three training classes per month. We also require mandatory socialization training.
You are responsible for all expenses necessary to prepare your puppy for its future, including medical care, safety, well-being, and socialization. All vaccines must be kept current at all times. We offer DHPP, bordetella, and rabies vaccines. Your puppy should be spayed or neutered by 12 months old.
Along with learning how to handle your service dog, you’re responsible for ensuring its safety at home, school, work, and in public. Make sure you adhere to what is considered socially acceptable behavior at all times. Your dog should also be kept clean and well-groomed at all times.
The cost of the two-year program is $3,500. You pay half when you sign your contract and start your first class, and the balance is due in monthly payments within the first year.
If you don’t have up to 20 hours per week available to train, exercise, and care for your puppy, the UDS Service Dog Program may not be right for you.
Disclaimer: Successfully attending weekly trainings and monthly socialization outings with one of our dogs in training doesn’t mean someone is a service/assistance dog trainer or qualified to train and/or place service/assistance dogs. Assistance Dogs International has specific standards that an individual must meet in order to be a certified assistance dog trainer, and taking part in our classes doesn’t meet these requirements. We cannot guarantee that a puppy will complete the program and pass the Public Access Test to become a certified service dog. Regardless of the outcome, your contract is non-refundable.
Your Puppy’s Career as a Service Dog
Your assistance dog may bridge the gap between your physical abilities and the barriers of our society. Your puppy may also become your therapy dog by providing loving warmth and trusting devotion. Or, they may work in your home with children who have autism or a cognitive disability.
Having a caring companion will open social doors that may have never existed for you before. We’re proud to be a service dog provider in PA and look forward to working with you on your service dog training journey!