Expert Service Dog Training for Life-Changing Results

Find a Dog to Train as a Service Dog

Selecting a dog for a public access career requires time, effort and expertise.

Life Saving

“We evaluated several dogs before bringing my prospect home. Sharon is a large part in saving my life and helping me rebuild a new one.” – Kyndyl Greyland

Runa, Kyndyl’s PTSD Service Dog

Most of our pre-adoption clients find the right dog!

Did you know?

Only about ten percent of dogs that owners select will have the right temperament for a public access service dog.

Whether searching for a mobility service dog or a psychiatric service dog (PSD), you know a better future with a service dog is within reach. You have the time, motivation, and resources to work diligently with a trainer and train your dog every day. But how do you select from the vast ocean of puppies and dogs to find the right dog to train as your future autism service dog, anxiety service dog, mobility service dog, or other type of service dog?

When life is a struggle, you don’t want to swim against the tide with a dog that will be nervous in public or harder to train. If you’ve already watched our free informational video, you’re ready to dive in!

Finding the right service dog prospect shouldn’t be sink or swim!

We know how to navigate these waters. We’ll guide you to the right service animal candidate with our Pre-Adoption Immersion Process:

  1. Purchase our webinar series, “Finding the Right Service Dog”
  2. Meet with your trainer for a private, individualized pre-adoption consultation
  3. Get constant support during the search process
  4. Your trainer assesses or selects the right puppy or dog for you

Pre-Adoption Immersion Process

Our pre-adoption package guides you step-by-step, providing the tools you need to find the best canine candidate to improve your life.

Step 1:

Our webinar series, “Finding the Right Service Dog,” provides critical details about temperament and personality you won’t find elsewhere – along with guidance on health, structure, breed, fundraising, how to evaluate rescue and breeder sites, and more. This workshop was designed for YOU – a person with a disability or their family member – looking for a service animal to make a difference in your life. 

What do YOU need in your candidate canine? Get answers with this two-part recorded workshop and package of helpful materials.

Leo

Better Decisions

“Extremely useful! Definitely recommend! I found both sessions very helpful. I appreciated all of the information. It will help me make better decisions and move forward in this process!” – Kate Sweet

Kate’s life has been transformed by Leo, her black Labrador retriever

Immerse yourself in a stream of service dog knowledge

“How to Find Your Future Service Dog” empowers you to get the best service dog candidate. It poses questions you didn’t know you hadn’t thought about! The webinar series addresses your disability and lifestyle. Are you training a service dog for a veteran, an elder with a traumatic brain injury (TBI), or a child with autism – different considerations apply. You’ll gain clarity about whether you should get a SDiT (service-dog-in-training) or get a trained service dog from a program.

In this workshop series, owner-training service dog expert, Sharon Wachsler, CPDT-KA KPACTP, will guide you on costs and timelines, whether to get a trained dog or train your own, how to assess programs and breeders to get the best dog, benefits and drawbacks of puppies versus adult dogs and breeders versus rescues, how to navigate the search process, and priorities for selection and assessment.  Three hours of presentation and Q&A includes two 90-minute webinars, plus numerous support materials. Learn from decades of experience. Cost:  $150†

Part 1: Defining the Dog You Need (1½ hours)

  • Lower-cost training options
  • Program vs. owner-training; which is right for you? 
  • Finding a reputable program 
  • The difference between temperament and training 
  • What is an ideal service dog candidate? 
  • Health and appearance considerations 
  • Temperament overview details
  • What is the right breed for a service dog?

Part 2: Finding the Right Dog to Train for Service (1½ hours)

  • Should you get a puppy or adult dog?
  • Should you work with a breeder to find your service dog or should you rescue a dog to train as a service animal?
  • What makes a reputable breeder?
  • How to assess a breeder website
  • Considerations for working with rescues
  • What to look for in a rescue listing
  • The importance of professional assessment

Bonus Materials!

You’ll also receive these additional handouts with your webinars:

  • Referrals to reputable service dog programs
  • How to select a trained service dog program and what to avoid
  • Fundraising tips – how to raise money to train a service dog
  • Service dog laws and rights
  • Recommended books on puppy raising, adopting older dogs, and dog training
  • How to find your SDiT candidate through a breeder or a rescue (it’s a very different process!) and resources on how to assess your potential dog
  • How to assess breeders and understand genetic health screens

†Payment plans and discounts are available to low-income individuals. Let us know if you’re on SSI, SSDI, or VA benefits to receive a discount or set up a payment plan.

Tip: We’re selective. Are you?

We all tend to make emotional decisions. This can lead to adopting the dog who looks like your last dog or picking the trainer off the internet who has classes near your home. 

However, the handlers who succeed usually…

  • Gather information that allows them to honestly evaluate whether owner-training is the right journey for them
  • Put in the time and money to find the right dog
  • Are eager and prepared (mentally, emotionally, financially, and schedule-wise) to spend up to two years on daily training
  • Plan to meet frequently with a specialist service dog trainer to keep their dog on track

This is why we only work with a small number of  private training clients every year. We have limited availability. We want to devote our precious one-on-one time to the handlers who are just as excited about training your dog as you are!

Take the time now to go slow and choose wisely.

Step 2. Pre-Adoption Consulting

You’ve taken a deep dive into what to look for in a service dog prospect. Now you’re ready to meet your trainer for one-on-one guidance.

Get personalized guidance in finding your ideal SDiT

Your next step is a personal consultation with your service dog trainer. We’ll meet (in person or online) to get to know you and your specific needs – your family, your locale, your disabilities, and your goals. During this 90-minute meeting, we’ll create an avatar of your perfect dog and go over how to find that dog. Our meeting will equip you for the exciting adventure ahead.

Kelin and Michael

Relaxed and Excited

“Talking with Sharon helped me get perspective, figure out what I wanted, and make a plan. She was warm, accommodating, a great listener, and a great educator. Now that we have a plan, I feel so much more relaxed and excited.” – Kelin & Michael

Kelin & Michael at Mount Sugarloaf, Deerfield, Massachusetts

Dog Search Support

Imagine having a service dog trainer you can check in with throughout the week! An expert who knows YOU and your needs and is available to answer all your questions.

After you meet with your trainer for your pre-adoption consultation, she’ll be available to assist you with the search process by phone and email. These five additional hours of remote support have yielded dramatic results. We have guided numerous clients away from dogs that would have drained their time, budget, and energy, as well as dashed their service dog hopes. Most importantly, we have steered them toward dogs that have been the realization of their dreams!

Your trainer will be responsive to your questions and provide guidance all along the way. Clients have been overjoyed with the results of our email and phone support to find the right dog.

Golden Retriever

Because of the individualized dog search support we provide after each consultation, we can only work with a limited number of pre-adoption clients at a time. This means we usually have a waitlist for consultations. Reserve your spot.

Perfect Fit

“The pre-adoption consultation was extremely helpful! At each step of our adoption search, Sharon offered her feedback. Sydney is the perfect fit for our family.” – Jo Dery

Ethan and Sydney snuggle on the couch

Pre-Adoption Immersion Package Rates

"How to Find Your Future Service Dog"

Two-part workshop and materials - $150

$150

Pre-Adoption Consultation & Dog Search Support

Hold your spot on the waitlist

$300

deposit on future training*

Consultation & Search Support

$425

Private consultation, tip sheets, written recommendations, and up to five hours of follow-up search support by phone or email. Search support may not include assessments of individual puppies or dogs.**

*If, based on our recommendation, you decide not to train a service dog, we’ll refund your deposit.

**Assessment costs vary. If you still have unused hours of dog search support, a second on-site trainer is not needed, and we’re able to do a Zoom assessment, there may be no cost. However, typically there are some costs associated with travel time, hiring a second on-site trainer, or our trainer’s time if dog search support hours have been used. It’s wise to budget about $300 per assessment for a single dog or puppy.

Have more questions? We have answers!

Our webinar series, “How to Find Your Future Service Dog” explains which option fits better depending on the handler’s disability, age, household composition, lifestyle, and more. It also provides guidance on how to select a program (what to look for and what to avoid), recommends some programs to start with, and provides helpful information about costs and timelines. After watching the webinar, you’ll be empowered to make the best choice for you and your family (and avoid unscrupulous or poor quality programs). 

If owner-training is a better match for your needs, the webinar provides a treasure trove of necessary information for the search process. Get started! Order “How to Find Your Future Service Dog.”

 

For a pet dog, getting the dog and then finding a trainer typically works fine. However, for a potential service dog, preparation and selection are key. We have seen a huge difference in results with clients who work with us to find the right dog versus those who contact us after they already have a dog.

Our process is individualized and comprehensive.

  • We provide detailed, objective information on the types of dogs – in terms of specific behavioral and health criteria – that are most likely to succeed as public-access service dogs
  • We get to know you and identify the best dog for you based on a number of factors, including your

o   disabilities and symptoms

o   activity level

o   locale (climate, household, and neighborhood type)

o   dog handling and cohabitation style

o   and more

  • After identifying the right type of dog, we help you search for and find a dog that meets these essential criteria

This sets up you and your dog for success.

Over the years, we have seen a consistent pattern of good results when we meet with a client to identify a dog that will truly meet their needs, and then help them find that dog. 

Before we can answer whether we can offer this service for you, please check whether it’s possible…

The goal of a rescue is to find good homes for its dogs as quickly as possible. Therefore, shelter dogs are usually adopted too quickly to allow time to set up an assessment. Also, most rescues will not allow a stranger to assess one of their dogs. Further, because dogs in a shelter are under stress, they may not exhibit their typical behavior, which makes them difficult to assess. 

We are sometimes able to assess puppies from a litter that a client has selected, but it depends on a number of factors. The breeder has to be comfortable with an unknown person handling her puppies. We also need to be able to schedule the several hours needed to test an entire litter within the timeframe needed.

We will help you set up the best training plan for your dog. In most cases, we recommend

  1. Private lessons with us, as needed
  2. PEARL DISC for you and your dog or puppy
  3. If you have a puppy and are not in our local area, we will also refer you to a skilled, rewards-based puppy kindergarten in your area

Please see our page on Training Your Pet as a Service Dog for an overview of the training process.

Unfortunately, most information about service dogs, service dog training, dog behavior, and how to select the right dog is woefully inadequate to help most people locate a likely service dog in training (SDiT). Sadly, this is equally true whether the information comes from the news media, social media, friends, family, healthcare providers, and even from many dog professionals (veterinarians, breeders, and even trainers). There are a number of reasons for this:

  • There is a lot of “traditional wisdom” and myth that many dog professionals (and dog owners) have handed down over the years, much of it inaccurate
  • The landscape for dog owning, breeding, and adoption has changed a lot over the last 10 to 20 years
  • Assessing and selecting canine candidates is extremely difficult. Further, our understanding of dog temperament testing and selection is evolving. It is part art and part science. Those of us who are dedicated to improving our skills are constantly refining our methods.

Service dog training is a specialized field. Within this specialized field is a much smaller number of trainers who specialize in working with owner-trainers. Among those is a smaller subset that have experience and expertise in selecting candidate dogs. The overwhelming majority of pet professionals don’t have the time or motivation to dedicate themselves to this narrow area of inquiry.

The best bang for your buck is our webinar, “How to Find Your Future Service Dog.” For only $150, it provides detailed information on temperament, breed, age, and other factors that will help you select a dog that is more likely to succeed as a future service dog. It also includes fundraising tips and other helpful materials.