©2020 All Rights Reserved by Jill Freifeld & Happy Hound Training.

Private, in-home dog training and behavior modification services are available within a 1-hour drive of Boonsboro, MD.

jill@happyhoundtraining.com

(301) 660-9203

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Train Your Own Service Dog Program

Welcome to our service dog training program! We created it to make service dogs accessible to those who need them but may not have the resources to pay for expensive service dog training, or to buy a fully-trained dog. Our program guides you through the complex and demanding process of training your own service dog. Plus, you’ll have the advantage of training your dog to suit your specific needs.

Our program is open to everyone - individuals in need of a service dog, animal assisted therapy teams, pet dog owners, etc.  Any dog owner who admires a service dog’s public manners and advanced skills and wants to accomplish these with his/her own dog is welcome. While any dog can take the program, only those who are legitimate service dogs* and satisfactorily pass all levels of the program will be eligible to receive a service dog certificate. Non-service dog participants will receive program graduation certificates. In addition to successful completion of the program, service dog owner-trainers must present a veterinarian’s letter verifying their dog’s soundness and suitability for service dog work, as well as a letter verifying the need for a service dog from their physician or mental health provider.

The program includes the Puppy Kindergarten (highly recommended but not required), the Basic Good Manners class (required) and six additional class series. Each class builds on the skills learned in the previous class and the classes must be taken in order. Detailed information is included below. All classes are offered through Peaceable Paws in Fairplay, Maryland. Please register and pay for your classes through Peaceable Paws.

It is important to understand that not all dogs are appropriate for service dog work.  A working dog’s life is mentally and physically challenging. A dog’s well-being must be the first priority when considering him/her for service dog work. Good service dog candidates are healthy, physically and mentally sound, calm, friendly, confident and comfortable in a wide variety of situations. Fearful, reactive or aggressive dogs are not appropriate service dog candidates. While minor behavioral issues may be resolved through behavior modification, there is no guarantee that a dog’s issues can be resolved sufficiently to enable him/her to become a suitable dog.

SERVICE DOG CERTIFICATE REQUIREMENTS

  • Graduation from Basic Good Manners class

  • Graduation from Service Dog Phase 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 & 6 classes

  • Passing grade of at least 75 points on written test

  • Passing public access manners assessment

  • Veterinarian’s letter verifying dog’s soundness

  • Physician or mental health provider’s letter recommending/confirming the client’s need for a service dog

 

*According to the Americans With Disabilities Act, service animals are defined as dogs that are individually trained to do work or perform tasks that are directly related to a person’s disability. Disability is defined as a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities.

 

COST

The service dog program includes of six class series, and each series meets for six weeks. Classes cost $175 for six weeks (with a $10 discount for dogs who are spayed or neutered, adopted from a shelter or rescue group, or whose owner is military, retired military, senior citizen, or has a disability (maximum one $10 discount per class enrollment). The cost of the full program from Basic Good Manners through Service Dog 6 is $1225. Puppy Kindergarten is an additional $160. Class fees are due and payable when registering for each class.

 

CLASS DESCRIPTIONS

Puppy Kindergarten (highly recommended for future service dogs but not mandatory) includes:

  • Socialization discussion and practice

  • Learning to read body language

  • Off-leash play with other puppies

  • Dealing with common puppy behaviors like chewing, nipping, and housetraining

  • Teaching your puppy to “Bathroom” on cue

  • Proactive handling exercises

  • How to use a clicker or verbal marker

  • Teaching your puppy to automatically sit when approached

  • Building focus through Name & Attention

  • Training basic cues: Sit, Down, Leave It, Trade and Come

  • Teaching polite leash manners

Puppy Kindergarten graduation requirements:

  • Just kidding - it's Puppy Kindergarten! There are no graduation requirements.

Basic Good Manners (mandatory entry-level class for service dog program) includes:

  • Learning to read body language

  • How to use a clicker or verbal marker

  • Teaching your dog to “Bathroom” on cue

  • Building focus through Name & Attention

  • Training basic cues including: Sit, Down, Stand, Come, Leave It, Trade, Loose Leash Walking, and Wait

  • How to fade the use of treats

  • Training your dog to “Spin & Twirl”

  • Teaching your dog to automatically sit when approached

  • Helping your dog be comfortable being handled, including grabbing his or her by the collar by training “Gotcha!”

  • Keeping your dog occupied and engaged with “Find It” 

  • Teaching nose-targeting

  • Using “Settle” to calm your dog

 

Basic Good Manners graduation requirements:

  • Attend at least four out of six classes

  • Enter the training center politely

  • Name and Attention with distractions

  • Sit and Down on verbal cue

  • Loose leash walking

  • Settle

  • Sit when approached

  • Leave It with treat exposed

  • Touch

 

Service Dog Phase 1 class includes: 

  • Next steps to strengthen previously-trained cues 

  • Exercises to build impulse control

  • Adding offered eye contact to Polite Greetings, as well as how to release your dog to “Say Hello” to someone

  • Strengthening your dog’s focus

  • Training to sit after coming

  • How to transition Leave It to objects

  • Incorporating Wait at doorways and during walks

  • Increasing Settle duration

  • Introducing Heel

  • Training Stay, including how to incorporate duration, distance, and distractions

  • Transitioning Touch to “Push”

Prerequisite: Graduation from Basic Good Manners and attending the free Service Dog Information Session.

 

Graduation requirements to qualify for Service Dog Phase 2:

  • Attend at least five out of six classes

  • Leave It with various objects on the floor

  • Dogs sits and makes eye contact with handler when approached

  • Come from 15’ and sit in front of handler

  • Heel calmly past other dogs

  • Down-Stay for two minutes

  • Sit-Stay for 30 seconds

  • Maintain or regain focus with moderate distractions

Service Dog Phase 2 class includes:

  • Continuing the behaviors learned in previous classes

  • Socialization discussion and activities

  • Understanding desensitization and counter-conditioning

  • How to use Shaping to train behaviors

  • Challenging Leave It and recalls (“Come”) that involve resisting food, toys, people, and other distractions

  • Training your dog to walk on your right side, Go to Place, and Under (Down-Stay under a table or chair) 

  • Teaching your dog to ignore offered attention during Polite Greetings

  • Incorporating Sit, Down, turns, and pace changes while walking in Heel position

  • Training foundation behaviors for task work: paw-targeting, Back Up, and Chin Rest

  • Discussing the importance of husbandry procedures

  • Applying advanced training concepts including generalization, proofing, and discrimination

Prerequisite: Graduation from Service Dog Phase 1.

 

Graduation requirements to qualify for Service Dog Phase 3:

  • Attend at least five out of six classes

  • Sit and focus on handler when approached by enthusiastic person

  • Leave It with food on a low table

  • Heel with Sit, Down, turns, and pace changes

  • Under without luring, and remaining for one minute

  • Come when called past major distractions

  • Down-Stay with dogs walking within five feet

  • Down-Stay for two minutes with handler five feet away

 

Service Dog Phase 3 class includes:

  • Continuing the behaviors learned in previous classes

  • Introducing task training specific to handler’s needs

  • Increasingly challenging Polite Greetings, including ignoring offered treats

  • Incorporating Sit and Down during walks in Side position

  • How to properly fade the use of treats

  • Increasing duration and distractions during Under

  • Go to Place next steps, including increased duration, distance, and distractions 

  • Sharpening training skills through “blind” and distance cues

  • How to effectively use praise to reinforce behavior

Prerequisite: Graduation from Service Dog Phase 2.

 

Graduation requirements to qualify for Service Dog Phase 4:

  • Attend at least five out of six classes

  • Leave It with various objects, food, merchandise, and people

  • Sit and focus on handler when approached, ignore petting and offered treats

  • Side combined with Sit and Down

  • Under for three minutes

  • Distance Sit with handler five feet away

  • Down-Stay with handler out of sight for 30 seconds

  • Go to Place on verbal cue and remain there for two minutes

  • Additional requirements may be included according to handler-specific task training 

 

Service Dog Phase 4 class includes:

  • Continuing the behaviors learned in previous classes

  • Continued development of handler-specific task training 

  • Reviewing service dog owners’ rights, general service dog etiquette, and the Americans With Disabilities Act as it pertains to service dogs

  • Discussing the proper etiquette and safety while riding in vehicles

  • A field trip to practice and generalize good manners cues and behaviors in public

  • How to identify when your dog is stressed and strategies to help

Prerequisite: Graduation from Service Dog Phase 3 class.

Graduation requirements to qualify for Service Dog Phase 5:

  • Attend at least five out of six classes

  • Identify two of your dog’s stress signals and one way to mitigate

  • Heel and Side with major distractions

  • Under with two or more people seated at table

  • Distance Down from handler five feet away

  • Down-Stay with major distractions while handler five feet away

  • Go to Place unescorted from ten feet away

  • Additional requirements will be determined according to handler-specific task training

 

Service Dog Phase 5 class includes:

  • Continuing the behaviors learned in previous classes

  • Frequent public outings to generalize and proof Stay, Heel, Side, Leave It, Polite Greetings, Under, etc.

  • Continued handler-specific task training 

Prerequisite: Graduation from Service Dog Phase 4 class.

Graduation requirements to enroll in Service Dog Phase 6:

  • Attend at least five out of six classes

  • Sit and Down while walking in Heel position in public

  • Sit, focus on handler, and ignore person who approaches and chats with handler in public

  • Leave It with various objects, food, merchandise, and people in public

  • Down-Stay in public for three minutes while handler moves five feet away

  • Down-Stay in public with handler out of sight for 30 seconds

  • Down-Stay w/handler away and dog passes by

  • Additional requirements to be determined according to handler-specific tasks training and public access manners progress

 

Service Dog Phase 6 class includes:

  • Continuing the behaviors learned in previous classes

  • Field trips to a farm or zoo, supermarket, restaurant, downtown area, shopping mall, airport, etc. to generalize and proof handler-specific task training and good manners behaviors

  • Continued handler-specific task training 

Prerequisite: Graduation from Service Dog Phase 5 class.

 

Graduation requirements to complete the training program:

  • Attend at least five out of six classes

  • Minimum score of 75 points on written exam

  • Minimum score of 75 points on Public Access Manners Assessment

  • Additional requirements to be determined according to handler-specific tasks training and public access manners progress

 

Additional requirements to earn the Service Dog Training Certificate:

  • Consistently performing all 24 of the service dog required items of Public Access Manners Assessment

  • Veterinarian’s letter verifying the dog’s soundness and health

  • Physician or mental health provider’s letter confirming the need for a service dog

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