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Service Dog Information

Are you looking for a service dog for yourself or a loved one? Do you need help training your dog to become your service dog?

You’ve come to the right place. Here at Valor K9 Academy, we specialize in service dog training. And we would love to help you get your independence back.

We offer the following service dog training:

  • PTSD Service Dogs
  • TBI Service Dogs
  • Mobility Support
  • Medical Alert/Response
  • Autism Support
  • Hearing Alert
  • and more!

We know it can be daunting at first to understand what the process looks like, so let me break it down!

Q: Do you have a dog already?

“Yes, I have a dog.”

If you have a dog you’d like to train as your service dog, great! The first step in the service dog process, then, is for us to meet you and evaluate your dog’s behavior. We are looking for specific traits, because it takes a very special dog to have what it takes for service work. Service dogs are one-in-a-million!

The evaluation process is called our Service Dog Consultation. It takes about 45 minutes, and it’s done in the trainer’s home. This gives us access to all the things we need to properly assess your dog, to include our demo dogs which help us to temperament test your dog.

It does not matter if your dog is a puppy or an adult dog, we will evaluate him or her in the following key categories:

  • Confidence
  • Social skills
  • Environmentals
  • And Drives

Of course, we will also look at your dog’s current level of training, but more on that later!

Please understand that we will be very selective during our assessment. Any sign of fear, aggression or instability will disqualify your dog from working with us as a service dog. Maybe another trainer will work with you, but not us. We have very high standards for our service dogs and the service dogs we train!

If your dog passes with flying colors, the next step is to talk about training!

If he doesn’t, we can talk about other options.

“No, I do not have dog.”

No problem! We can help you find the right dog. Now, you can train an adult dog to be a service dog, but finding the right adult dog is like finding a needle in a haystack. Almost impossible! So we do recommend starting with a puppy. There are a lot of advantages to starting with a puppy. The only real disadvantage is that it takes longer to get to “the end” of the training process.

We offer what we call a “Puppy Selection Service.” We help you select a breed, choose a breeder and pick a puppy. While we understand that rescue puppies are wonderful, we do recommend using a tried & true breeder in order to stack the deck in your favor in terms of health, temperament and overall trainability. So for this reason, our recommendations will be for breeder we know, trust and possibly have worked with in the past. (We have a few favorite breeders who we’ve used extensively!)

Maybe you just need help with steps 2 and 3. Great! We are happy to assist in any way we can. You just let us know! Keep in mind that good breeders usually have 6-12 month waiting lists, so you’ll want to plan ahead. The sooner we get started, the better!

Q: What does the training process look like?

Great question! There are two ways to get to the end goal:

  • Private Lessons
  • Board & Train

Private lessons are 1-hour lessons done weekly in your home, the trainer’s home or a public location. In private lessons, we help you work on a few new things each week, and then you put in the work to keep training your puppy or dog at home. For more information on private lessons, go here.

The other option is the board & train. This is where your puppy or dog goes to the trainer for a set period of time (usually 4 weeks) and learns all the skills he or she needs to know for that stage of training. For more information on board & train programs, click here.

Training is not an overnight process. Service Dogs need to be:

  • Super social
  • Super obedient
  • Super confident
  • Well-mannered
  • And task trained

Essentially, they need to be go anywhere, do anything dogs who know when it’s time to work and when it’s not.

For this reason, the training process is a journey. For the best results, if you are getting a puppy to be your service dog, we recommend:

  • 4 week Puppy Head Start Board & Train
  • 3-4 week Good Dog Board & Train
  • 4-5 week Custom Service Dog Board & Train

Price-wise? You’re looking at around $18,000-$20,000 in training. But this investment will take you from start to finish in the training process. We put in the work, you maintain the training. And once the last board & train is done, you’re able to put two-and-two together and your dog is tasking in public.

(Please note, this is typically the results we get. Each dog is different, though. Some dogs may need more training if behavioral issues or training problems pop up, or you do not work with the dog enough between board & trains.)

If you’re training your current dog to be your service dog, assuming your dog is a year or older, we recommend:

  • 3-4 week Good Dog Board & Train
  • 4-6 week Custom Board & Train

This does save you money on training, and it’s because you’re able to skip the whole first year of puppy raising and training. But again, we would need to meet & evaluate your dog to make sure that service work is a doable job for him or her.

If you want to go the private lessons route, we recommend *only* substituting the Good Dog Board & Train with a Gold Private Lessons package (10 lessons). There is just too much valuable information being taught to the puppy in a Puppy Head Start Board & Train. And there’s no substitute for experience when it comes to the Custom Board & Train. That’s where we teach tasking and do public access training (PAT).

Q: How much does it cost for a service dog?

This is one of our most frequently asked questions. And there’s no cut-and-dry answer for it. We don’t sell finished and fully-trained service dogs. We sell training. We can help you with any step in the process. Whether you need help from the very beginning with getting a puppy, or whether you just need help fine-tuning your service dog’s working abilities.

The cost for a puppy is about $23-25k. This covers cost of the puppy selection service, cost of the dog, veterinary bills, food, equipment and, of course, training.

The cost for an adult dog, barring any behavioral issues, is about $13-20k. This covers cost of training and equipment.

So, big picture, the cost can be as long as $15,000 or as high as $25,000.

Another cost to consider is X-rays. We always recommend X-raying a large breed dog’s hips and elbows around a year of age to ensure the dog is healthy and sound enough for service work, especially if it’s mobility work.

We do not offer financing or discounts at this time.

Q: How long does it take?

The process for a puppy – from start to finish – is about 14-18 months. We recommend doing the Puppy Head Start Board & Train starting when your puppy is 10-12 weeks of age. Then the Good Dog Board & Train around 6-9 months of age. And finally the Custom Board & Train around 12-14 months of age.

The process for an adult dog is about 6-12 months.

Q: Where do I start?

If you’re interested in getting a service dog for yourself or a loved one, fill out the form on our contact page! We’d love to talk with you more about how we can help you get your freedom back and enjoy the companionship that a service dog gives.