Dog Trainers that Help OT's train service dogs: Lots of Questions

The Service and Therapy Dog forum is for all service and therapy dogs regardless of whether or not their status is legally defined by federal or state law, how they are trained, or whether or not they are "certified." Posts questioning or disputing a person's need for a service or therapy dog, the validity of a person's service or therapy dog, or the dog's ability to do the work of a service or therapy dog are not permitted in this forum. Please keep discussions fun, friendly, and helpful at all times.

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The Boy Wonder
Barked: Wed Sep 12, '12 12:05pm PST 
I do get second opinions on all of my dogs. I don't get help on the whole process but do recommend it for all first time trainers because it's such a complicated issue. It's important for me to get second opinions and evaluations so I don't let myself get blind to any faults or issues my dogs have or are developing. I think it will be really important to know not only federal law but also state law and where they differ and how they affect different situations. Things like Georgia law does not protect service dogs for persons with psychiatric disabilities, and you would have to make your clients aware of that so they wouldn't lean on state law in an access dispute. Who you call, and how you handle an access dispute can mean the difference between winning and losing. Two... you may need to check with a lawyer to figure out what "trained by a licensed or certified person" means under the law for physically disabled persons.

Another thing I would recommend is for you to hook up with some local handlers, be they owner trainers, or handlers from a program and spend some time in public with them and gather some first hand experience on what it's like to handle a dog in public in your state. This is the kind of thing that first time handlers really need and it is hard to get over the computer. It's hard for an able bodied person to understand what it is like to rely on a service dog and deal with the public unless you actually are out in public having to do it.

I still think offering a program that mixes specialized classes with your regular classes will provide the best fit without having to stretch yourself too far as well as providing the best value for your clients because many of us don't have a lot of spare funds. You might also look into options to help clients with funding, if you are wiling to help ahead of time that will encourage clients to come to you sooner before they are having problems and they will be less likely to push a dog that is ill suited into the work (hopefully)
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