The relationship between a person with a disability and their service dog is profound and often life-changing. The journey of training and partnering with a service dog may be filled with joy and pride, as well as questions and concerns.
Experience You Can Trust
We specialize in helping disabled people or their family members train service dogs for themselves.
We started training our first service dog over 20 years ago, in 1998. This makes At Your Service uniquely qualified to help you reach your training goals. We have experience with the human side of the equation, too, including both psychiatric and mental health disabilities and mobility and physical disabilities. We see each person and dog as unique and help them reach their potential as a team.
We can help…
- Get your dog to the next level — and beyond! — in manners or service tasks
- Get your dog trained for public access and assess your dog’s readiness with a Public Access Evaluation
- Answer your questions about legal, financial, and lifestyle issues with service dog training
- Suggest equipment options that will work best for you and your dog, including adaptive equipment options for people with physical disabilities
- Adapt training methods and gear to your situation, even if you rarely leave your home or bed; we are creative, flexible, and have a can-do attitude for people who want to train their own service dog
- Provide information about which service dog option is right for you: owner-training or a program? And we can help you figure out what to look for with either option
- Choose the right type of dog to train for your situation: Which breed, size, temperament? Puppy or adult? From rescue or a breeder?
- Give you the best tools to raise your puppy right from the start
- Assess a dog you are considering adopting as a future service dog
We offer answers to your service dog questions!
After a terrible experience with another service dog trainer, Jessie contacted At Your Service for help training her Golden Retriever, Molly. After Jessie started working with Sharon, she emailed her, “You are so incredibly thorough, and I immediately felt comfortable with you because there is a true level of empathy there. Throughout everything so far, you have been so incredibly kind and patient with me and have put me at ease.” See what else Jessie says about Molly’s training improvements after just one lesson with At Your Service.
You’re unique! We offer you unique solutions.
Nothing we do is “cookie cutter.” Each training session and consult is tailored to you and your dog. We work with you and your family to find solutions that fit your lifestyle, your disabilities and strengths, and your goals. We help people in situations like these:
- Bill is a veteran who uses a power wheelchair full-time. He adopted a German Shepherd named “Storm” to train as his service dog. When Bill took Storm to basic manners classes, he found that the trainer could not give clear instructions about how to train Storm how to walk next to his wheelchair, resulting in her leash getting tangled or her paws getting run over. Bill contacted At Your Service and set up owner lessons to learn how to train Storm to walk nicely by his chair. Later, he sent Storm to their Service Dog Academy board-and-train to learn how to retrieve dropped items and turn lights on and off.
- After a traumatic brain injury, Brenda trained her dog to guide her when she was disoriented. It’s been ten years since then, and she recently purchased a puppy from a reputable breeder to train as her successor service dog. But raising the puppy has been much harder than she expected! Problems with housebreaking and how to train a dog with limited memory and mobility have been challenging. Brenda started Service Dog Day School with At Your Service and now her dog is a well-mannered adult dog, on her way to becoming a great service dog.
- When Angela adopted her dog from a rescue organization, she was just looking for a companion. Over time, Angela discovered that her dog’s presence reduced the impact of her fibromyalgia and PTSD. Not knowing how to move beyond basic obedience and manners to turn her pet into a service dog, Angela contacted At Your Service. Now Angela and her dog are working together better than ever.
- Clyde is training his Golden Retriever Josie as a service dog. Josie’s training is going well at home, but due to agoraphobia and social anxiety, Clyde is having trouble doing public access training. He contacted At Your Service. We set up public access Day School so Josie would get skilled training in the community three times a week. Now Josie knows how to behave in stores, restaurants, and medical buildings.
- Maya and Jad’s teenage daughter is developmentally disabled. They are wondering whether to get a dog to train to assist her, and if so, whether to train the dog themselves or to work with a program. They contacted Sharon and got more clarity on their options.
Realize your dream of greater freedom, independence, safety, and functionality with a canine assistant! Contact us today to set up your Service Dog Consult.
A Variety of Training Options to Fit Your Situation
At Your Service offers several types of service dog training packages:
- Service Dog Consults — Get answers to all your questions: What’s the process for training my dog to assist me? Which tasks should I teach? How do I train for public access? What’s the best way to pick a service dog candidate? What costs or equipment are involved? What’s the difference between an emotional support animal and a service dog? Learn about Service Dog Consults.
- Pre-Adoption Consulting and Dog Search Support — Are you considering getting a dog as an emotional support animal or service dog? Clients who consult with us before choosing a dog are much more likely to meet their training goals than if they choose a dog themselves. We will answer your questions, provide information and support — including with sorting through rescue and breeder listings — and help you move forward with confidence. Consults address questions such as: What age, breed, size, or whether to look at shelters, rescues, or breeders? What is the best option for your disability and lifestyle? What is the best route to obtaining a service dog for your situation — owner-training or a program-trained dog? What traits are most important in a candidate dog? What is the process of training a service dog and how should you prepare? After the consult, Dog Search Support provides phone and email help with searching for and screening potential dogs, trainers, breeders, etc. We can also communicate with rescue coordinators on your behalf or help “interpret” Pet Finder listings. Learn more about Pre-Adoption Consults & Dog Search Support.
- Service Dog Day School — Our most efficient option that also allows your dog to live at home full-time. Day school is perfect for public access training, for raising puppies to be “bomb proof” (even-tempered, relaxed, confident), and for training an adult dog in manners or assistance tasks. With Day School, your dog gets a rock-solid foundation in the skills that matter most by receiving professional training several days a week (while you are out or while you observe — it’s up to you!), with transition lessons that coach you in how to maintain your SDiT’s good behavior. Day School is ideal for dogs that need a very high level of training — future service dogs! Learn more about Service Dog Day School.
- Public Access Super-Socialization Package — Socialization is critical for all puppies, but particularly important for future service dogs, therapy dogs, or for puppies that come from breeds that tend to be suspicious, such as many working, herding, and guarding breeds. Make sure your puppy is socialized right! We come to your home and take your puppy on field trips to help her learn that the world is a wonderful place where she will be welcomed as a well-behaved adult. Limited to puppies under 18 weeks of age. Learn more about our Puppy Training.
- Service Dog Owner Lessons — Private lessons in your home or in our rented training space in Northampton. We coach you in training your dog, solving problems and helping your service dog advance in their career. Training may cover basic manners, advanced public access, in-home assistance tasks or anything else. Learn more about owner lessons.
- Board-and-Train (Service Dog Academy) — For service dogs only. Your dog will live in our head trainer’s home, receiving one-on-one intensive training in manners, public access, or task training. A long-term, efficient training option for complete tip-to-trail training. Our unique Service Dog Academy option involves periods with the trainer, rotated with periods with you at home, either on weekends or for longer rotations, depending on your location. Learn more about Service Dog Academy B&T.
- Group Classes — We offer specialty intermediate and advanced-level group classes in the Pioneer Valley geared to service dog teams. Group classes are an affordable way to get skilled, positive training instruction. Classes include Therapy & Service Dog Skills (5 weeks, intermediate level), Public Access I (6 weeks intermediate II), Public Access II (advanced-intermediate), and occasional specialty classes and intensive workshops. Learn about group classes.
- Pet Professional Service Dog Consulting — Are you a trainer or other pet professional with questions about working with service dog clients? Are you wondering how to choose or train assistance tasks, tackle public access training, assess a client’s dog as a candidate, or answer questions about service dog laws, terminology, or standards? Sharon is available for private consulting with you or for service dog workshops and seminars. Learn more about pet professional service dog consultations or presentations.
- We offer the full range of services (consulting, owner lessons, day school, and group classes) to clients training service dogs in these and other nearby towns: Wendell, New Salem, Orange, Athol, Erving, Montague, Turners Falls, Deerfield, Greenfield, Shutesbury, Leverett, Sunderland, Northfield, Petersham, South Deerfield, Warwick, north Amherst, and parts of Pelham, Belchertown, and Hadley.
- For those in Western Mass., or the North Quabbin region who want to train a service dog but are a little farther away, we also provide in-home consults and owner lessons and may also provide day school, depending on the location.
- For those outside our service area, including people in the Boston area, other New England towns, etc., we offer both part-time and full-time board-and-train through Service Dog Academy. We also provide in-person consultations and lessons at one of the training facilities where we rent space. These include Mount Tully Kennels in Orange and Animal Alliances in Northampton.
- Finally, we offer service dog consultation by telephone for anyone in the United States or who is outside our service area and unable to travel.
Use the form below to book your service dog training lessons today!