Expert Service Dog Training for Life-Changing Results

Group Classes - Train Your Own Service Dog

Do you have a dog you want to train as a service dog for yourself, your child, or a family member? Whether you have an adult dog who lights up your life or are eagerly anticipating training a new puppy, we can help you train your own service dog.

Make sure to first watch our free video on “How to Train Your Own Service Dog.” If your adult dog matches the description in the video OR if you have a puppy, kick off your canine companion’s service career with our Dogs In Service Certification (DISC) program.

DISC (Dogs In Service Certification) Program

How It Works
The first three levels – PEARL, Bronze, and Silver – are online group classes. Each level is a ten-week course followed by an assessment to ensure your dog is ready for the next level. When you and your dog pass an assessment, you’ll earn your dog’s DISC for that level and move on to the next. You’ll receive a certificate and a beautiful pin for your dog’s service-dog-in-training vest for each level you and your dog complete.

DISC Program Levels

  • PEARL (Pup Engaged, Attentive, Relaxed & Learning) Disc – Foundations for any dog 8 weeks and up
  • Bronze Disc – Basic/Intermediate Skills
  • Silver Disc – Intermediate/Advanced Skills
  • Gold Disc – Public Access Training
  • Platinum Disc – Task Training
  • Diamond Disc – Yearly Recertification

DISC Program

(Dogs In Service Certification)
  • Foundations in manners, obedience, tasks, and public access
  • Builds top-notch training and handling skills for owner-trainers
  • First three levels – PEARL (Puppy & Foundations); Bronze (Basics); Silver (Intermediate) – are a series of 10 week online levels courses
  • Pass assessment after each course to level up to the next course
  • Switch to private training for Gold (Public Access), Platinum (Tasks), and Diamond (yearly recertification after graduation)
  • Pearl course, including assessment fee, is $390

PEARL DISCPuppies & New Dogs

For a fantastic foundation, start your puppy in PEARL (Puppy Engaged, Attentive, Relaxed & Learning), PEARL is level one of our Dogs In Service Certification (DISC) program. In this level, you and your pup will train on foundations for manners, tasks, and public access. These unique online classes, just for service dog owner-trainers, cover special material beyond what’s included in a typical puppy kindergarten or a basic obedience class. Train live, on Zoom, with a service dog trainer and up to three other service dog teams. At the end of class, take an assessment that allows your dog to earn their PEARL DISC pin (pictured at right) and certificate, and advance to the next level.

DISC Class Training Plusses

Service dog focus – Your dog learns all the basics (sit, down, come, stay), plus!… pottying on cue, riding on public transportation, curling in a small space, settling under a restaurant table, desensitization to hospital sounds, and much more.

Extra support – Individual instruction during class, plus!… lifelong access to our Client Portal with homework instructions for each class and hundreds of training tip sheets and videos; access to clients-only videos and our exclusive private Facebook group for clients.

Reality based – Each lesson focuses on a real-life situation with your SDiT, such as riding the train, going to the groomer, or shopping for groceries. Scenarios are broken down into segments, with step-by-step training instructions for each section.

Handler skills focus – Discover the secrets of great handler/trainer skills: how to use situational awareness, life rewards, and prevention, and how to read dog body language. Learn how to strengthen your bond, work a service dog in public, and help you and your dog sail through access challenges or approaches from strangers.

Clarity – Benchmarks assure you that your dog is on the path to public access success. If problems arise, we’ll address them before they become entrenched.

Proof of Training – Each time your dog passes a level, you receive an attractive DISC pin for your dog’s vest and a printed certificate.

Benefits of Training Online with Service Dog Specialists

All of the great things about in-person classes are also true of our online classes: expertise and step-by-step, positive coaching and homework.

Starting your pup in our online classes has several benefits.

  1. Faster – With expert guidance the first time, you’ll have a full-fledged service dog much faster.  Prevent time-consuming “retraining” of unhelpful behaviors taught in pet classes. (It’s fine to take a puppy kindergarten or other basic class with a local trainer while you also train with us online! We’ll even partner with your local pet trainer for maximum benefit.)
  2. Reduced cost – Save time and money. Starting your pup in DISC prevents costly mistakes.
  3. Community – All your classmates are also training a service dog for themselves or a family member. You’re part of a supportive community – in class and our private social media groups.
  4. Quick and easy. No travel time or costs associated with driving. We email you a link. You click on it. Poof! You’re in class!
  5. Dogs learn best in low-distraction settings. Your dog focuses on you, without being distracted by the trainer, other dogs or people, or a noisy environment. You learn how to create distractions that you control to train your dog to respond to you in new and exciting environments.
  6. People learn best in low-distraction environments, too! Psst! No matter whether you train in person or online, trainers are always coaching you, not training your dog! If your disability makes certain environments challenging, you’ll love DISC classes.
  7. All classes are recorded. If you miss class or need a refresher, you can watch it later.
  8. Skilled support – Training a service dog is a big job! You shouldn’t have to go it alone. We’ll make it easier, more fun, and help you get the best results!
Ursa

Ursa’s training has improved by leaps and bounds

“The online classes turned out to be preferable to me as it allowed me to train Ursa in an environment where we were both already comfortable and without distractions, but we were still able to interact with Sharon and the other teams. PEARL and Bronze Disc taught me so much about the building blocks for task training and more advanced public access skills. Learning how to read your dog’s behavior and communicate consistently has been the most important part. Because of her consistent training, she is able to quickly adjust to new environments and perform her service animal tasks.”
Shoshanna L. & Ursa

Frequently Asked Questions

Our DISC classes all meet online, using Zoom. We used to offer service dog foundation classes in person, but we have found that these online classes offer such unparalleled results that we now exclusively offer SDiT foundation classes online, even for teams in our area. 

We hear over and over from our students that they learn more in our online group classes than they learned in multiple in-person training classes.

 
  1. Learn advanced dog training skills you didn’t even know you needed. Let’s be honest. Dog training classes don’t train your dog. They teach you how to train. 

    Even the best-run in-person group class tends to be noisy, chaotic, and full of sensory stimulation. That’s great for learning simple behaviors like sit, down, touch, come, etc. But you need more than the basics for your service-dog-in-training.

    Our classes are different. By combining instruction, live coaching, and discussion, we teach you how to confidently adjust to varying conditions so your dog can succeed when the unexpected occurs. If your dog behaves completely differently on a walk from how she did at home or suddenly loses interest in treats, you’ll know what to do. Our classes involve youin the science and art of high-level dog training, so you and your dog are ready for real life.

  2. Your dog starts off strong. The best service dog foundation is built with many, many successful repetitions and as few errors as possible. It’s much easier for your dog to succeed with new skills at home, to start.
  3. Easily increase or lower your dog’s challenge level. But what about when your dog is ready for distractions and challenges? When you register your dog for a DISC course, you receive a list of diverse distractions. You’ll be easily able to choose the correct level of distraction for your dog for each exercise. Your dog will learn to pay attention and build impulse control “muscles” at home, instead of getting overwhelmed on the street or surrounded by other dogs in class.
  4. We’re on a mission: to help everyone who wants to train a service dog to get the most effective, humane, and efficient training possible. Our trainers are part of the disability community. We have trained service dogs for ourselves and we’ve been working with service dog owner-trainers for over a decade. Whether you’re the parent of a teen on the autism spectrum in Boston, a wheelchair user training a mobility service dog in San Francisco, a woman training a PTSD service dog in Miami, or a nonbinary person training a hearing dog in Houston, if you have an internet connection, we can help you train your service dog.
No, these are live classes, with a trainer that will provide you with group instruction, one-on-one coaching, and answers to your questions. Classes are kept to a maximum of 4 students to allow a lot of time for individual attention. However, the classes are recorded, so you will also receive the recording which you can save and watch again, any time.
There are no makeups, but you will receive the recording of  your class, as well as written homework instructions. This will allow you and your dog to keep up with all the material.

In cases where a dog is showing any signs of fear, reactivity, or overexcitement with a particular trigger (e.g., growling, barking, lunging, or shrinking back from strangers, other dogs, cars, etc.), we typically recommend starting with PEARL DISC. In addition to covering the basics on training techniques for service dogs, PEARL includes critical instruction on behavior management, understanding subtle signs of dog body language, and techniques to modify fear and reactivity.

The feedback we’ve received from our students has been overwhelmingly positive about how PEARL has helped their dogs make progress with triggers and distractions. This includes some teams that had completed significant training with other trainers and were already working in public. This material is not covered in Bronze because it is assumed that Bronze teams have already completed PEARL and have an understanding of these concepts and how to apply them.

PEARL is also an inexpensive alternative compared to private lessons (costs only $390 for 10 hour-long classes compared to approximately $1300 for the same amount of time in private lessons), and allows you to get to know your trainer and their training style, better understand your dog’s needs, and achieve clarity on the best long-term plan for success, all in a low stakes environment.

Yes, once you and your dog pass the PEARL assessment, you may start your dog in our Bronze class. The PEARL assessment includes two parts. The first is a written portion with specific questions about your dog’s behavior and training, along with some general knowledge questions on dog behavior and training. The second portion is a very short (about 5-10 minute) practical assessment that takes place online with one of our trainers. To pass the practical portion, we ask to see the dog perform the following behaviors reliably (on the first or second cue) three times in a row in an environment with a mild distraction: Sit, Attention (respond to their name), Down (lay down or settle on a mat), Touch (nose targeting), Loose leash (walk a few steps on a loose leash), as well as demonstrate comfort with having their collar or harness taken on and off, and leash attached. The cost is $40. Please fill out our Owned Dog Intake form to get more information.
Vicki and Houdini

Amazing results, I wish I found AYS sooner!

“I just started in Sharon’s virtual service dog training program. My service dog was already professionally trained but was reactive to other dogs. He would lunge and bark at every dog in our neighborhood. She taught us “engage and disengage” and provided several videos, too. This training was EXACTLY right for us! In 5 days, he stopped lunging/barking at other dogs. I just took him out for a long walk at a lake where there were dogs on leash everywhere, and we enjoyed a lovely stroll with only 2 short barks after passing 20-30 dogs. To have done this with WITHOUT shocking or choking my dog is astounding to me. My dog is much more responsive to my voice commands and I think much happier too! Thank you!”
Vicki Ip and Houdini