There are four defined levels of training which will overlap to a large extent:

  • Foundation Training
  • Advance Skills Training
  • Public Access Training
  • Teamwork Training

Without using specific technical training jargon at this time, the foundation training includes basic obedience training as well as the foundation for advanced and public access skills.

Advanced skills training includes what we think of as service dogs tasks. Advanced skills include the following. Tasks may be added or deleted depending upon the client needs:

  • Heel on right or left for mobility devices such as cane, walker, wheelchair.
  • Retrieve indicated item, water bottle, wallet, sock, zippered medication case, etc.
  • Find and retrieve a phone or TV remote control
  • Open a door
  • Operate a light switch
  • Turn on a touch lamp
  • Push a button switch
  • Go to bed
  • Go to place
  • Take laundry from washer/dryer - place in basket
  • Help in dressing
  • Brace for sitting/standing
  • Nudge limb into place
  • Retrieve chair or other mobility device

Public Access Skills Training includes transitioning the foundation and advanced skills to a busy public location and accustoms the dog to various modes of public transportation and life in the real world. Public access skills include the following. Additional skills may be taught depending on the clients needs:

  • Controlled vehicle entrance and exit
  • Controlled entry and exit while riding on public transportation
  • Heeling through a crowded public venue such as a mall, city streets, etc.
  • Shopping with transaction in which dog deliver payment
  • Restaurant with dog lying quietly under table, refusing dropped food.
  • Dog retrieves item dropped by handler
  • Controlled ride in an elevator
  • Handler out of site while neutral person holds the dog.

Teamwork is the last phase when a dog is partnered with a client with disabilities. At this point, the dog will have mastered all the skills listed above with the dog’s trainers. Each of these skills will be re-mastered with the dog’s new handler. In addition, the dogs new human partner will be taught the skills necessary to maintain the training.

If VADogs provides you with your very own service dog please show love and consideration to your new best friend.