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Train Your Own Service Dog Program

Our service dog training program was conceived to make service dogs* accessible without expensive training or having to buy a fully-trained dog. We'll guide 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 - those 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 or her own dog is welcome. All classes are offered through Head of the Class Dog Training in Winchester, Virginia. Please register and pay for classes through Head of the Class.

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 or 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 it can be modified sufficiently to enable him or her to become a suitable dog.

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.


*According to the Americans With Disabilities Act, "service animals" are miniature horses or dogs who 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.

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