Kate, who lives in Connecticut, was unable to find an experienced service dog trainer in her area to complete training of her black Lab, Arvis. She traveled to Western Mass., every two weeks with Arvis, to do two days of training lessons with Sharon. Next, they enrolled in At Your Service Dog Training’s Public Access 2 class — training in public locations as a group. Recently, Kate emailed Sharon to update us on Arvis, who has completed his training and is working successfully as a service dog. Here is some of what Kate shared.
Thank you for your positive words and support regarding Arvis completing his service dog training. You gave us a great foundation and always made us feel like we were capable of becoming a successful working team.
Arvis has demonstrated his first task three times now. When I’m sleeping I do not hear the door bell. He came to get me each time and would not stop bumping my arm until I got out of bed. In addition, he has successfully signaled and led me out of stores when I had gone beyond my medical limitations.
Arvis now accompanies me to the swimming pool where he will lay inches from the water for over an hour. Other pool patrons are totally amazed and some request to be next to my lane so that they can be closer to Arvis. Even with this extra attention Arvis never moves one inch. Arvis also has come on several bus trips with me, which have required him to ride on buses, ferries, trains, small commuter vans filled with people, etc. Last, he now accompanies me on tasks of daily living. I can’t even begin to put a number on how many compliments Arvis has received on his exemplary behavior.
Here’s what Kate wants people to know about working with At Your Service:
At Your Service Dog Training is a comprehensive program from start to finish. Sharon Wachsler is an experienced trainer with a solid foundation in dog behavior, psychology, and best training practices. I appreciated the in-depth evaluation of my dog and me as a handler before accepting us into the program. It was reassuring to see that she did not place every team at the same starting point and it was not a guarantee to be accepted into her program. I liked the standards she set for both the dog and handler to be considered for her program.
My dog and I had mastered most of his basic skills, through numerous training classes, prior to beginning Sharon’s program. I was very pleased that she did not hold our team back based on the progress other teams had made in the past or the present. She creates a strategic training plan for each client team, complete with copious training observation notes and a detailed homework assignment after each training session. Sharon wants to see her clients be successful but she is not the type of person who will accept payment from a client team that she knows is not going to be able to pass the very rigorous standards of The At Your Service Dog Training program.
Last, there are a few very special things that stick out to me when reviewing my time in Sharon’s program. First, she was very generous with her willingness to accommodate my schedule. Second, I appreciated how she provided training about the ADA laws surrounding service dogs in training (SDits) vs. Service Dogs and role-played how to deal with strangers coming up to my dog and me while we are working together in public.
Last, I enjoyed her creative approaches to training and how she packed so much learning into each session. I always felt she recognized how hard my dog and I were working between sessions and moved us through her program accordingly.Entering into and committing to self-training a service dog with At Your Service Dog Training is not for everyone. It is a significant commitment both financially and emotionally as it is not a guarantee that a dog-handler team will be a successful graduate. Sharon is not able to control her clients so that they devote the necessary time and energy into the extensive training required of a SDit. However, if she happens upon a motivated dog-handler team with all of the prerequisite behaviors and attributes she attributes to potential success, then there is no one better to propel them along towards becoming a fully functioning service dog team.
In sum, Sharon is a caring trainer who not only has a solid foundation and understanding of training service dogs but also a compassion and dedication to helping those with mental and/or physical disabilities. I’m extremely happy with my entire experience with Sharon Wachsler, the owner of At Your Service Dog Training and would not hesitate to recommend her to other disabled individuals who wish to have assistance training their own service dog.