|Barked: Sun Jul 28, '13 7:52am PST |
|Program or Owner Trained is up to the individual. As has been said, both have positives and negatives. My personal choice is owner trained.
If you go with a program, you need to make sure the program has a good track record and will work with you if there are any issues. If I were going for a program dog, I would probably work with Canine Assistants. First because Victoria Stilwell (It's Me Or the Dog) did a great interview with them (YouTube, Stilwell Service Dog) and recommends them. Second because of how far they will go to make sure the dogs are well trained and $assistance, based on income, throughout the life of your partner. I can't imagine finding a better program. They go the extra mile and I love it.
As I said, however, I intend to train my own SD. It's a more personal route and one I prefer because the pup will see my normal versus when I'm not feeling well, times I'll need the dog to work as an adult. I'm also not actually alone. I'm in a group of people who've self trained for years, I have a trainer, I've picked up priceless books (if you're going to self train, get Teamwork I & II, they're SD self training specific traininng books).
My group suggests training your dog to CGC level and then training for PAT (Public Access Testing). Once your dog passes the PAT, it's considered a Service Dog. Of course, during that entire time, you're also task training. I've done a lot of research over the past year. Willing to answer questions as I'm able. I know I'm saying a lot.
The greatest advantages of personally training is a closer working relationship and the ability to train what you need when you need. With program dogs, you could unintentionally cause the dog to lose the training it aready has if you try to train any thing. There's not that danger if you train the dog yourself because you know the ins and outs of the dog's training. If you don't feel comfortable with training, however, a program may be the way to go. It's all up to you.
Just don't call the ADA with training questions. They're a legal institution, ensuring handlers have the right to go into public and to train their own dogs. They're not a training institution. There are many different types of Service Dogs, different means of attaing the same goal. There's no standard that they go by, which is good because if they did we would no longer be able to self train without getting an education to do so. There are, however, basic rules of etiquette to follow. That's what the PAT covers. Ther's a number you can call in case of discrimination, but not sure what it is.
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