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PROJECT: Service Dog in Training

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Project: Service Dog in Training
PROJECT: Service Dog in Training

Welcome to PROJECT: Service Dog in Training – Chronicling the journey of one puppy prodigy from birth to working Service Dog.

We’re not going to have a new puppy until ohh…about February 2019 when Raven has her next litter. So, why are we talking about this now?

If you’re planning to get a puppy it shouldn’t be an impulse decision nor should it be something you take lightly.

Before we brought home Linus back on January 7th, 2005 I did a ton of research reading books and magazines, talking to friends and family, and yes, I even consulted my good friend Mr. Google.

For many years I’ve wanted PuppyInTraining.com to be the definitive resource for anyone getting a new puppy…with a little twist.

While some people may just want to learn the basics of training a puppy I’ve had many others ask me what can they do to raise and train their puppy like a Service Dog.

That’s where this website is different. We don’t want to teach your puppy to be good. We want your puppy to be GREAT!!!

Bear a Service Dog in Training
Bear a Service Dog in Training

Just a couple days ago we received this email from one of our readers:

“I have been so interested in dog training the last few years, particularly in the training aspect of raising a service dog, but fortunately, never really needed an actual service dog. I’ve been scouring the web for advise and guidance because I am hopefully going to raise a new puppy (just a family pet) next year but cannot find such information besides the usual obedience training books. Many of them are very helpful, but I’m curious to know what an actual puppy raiser would do. And what they would do differently. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if all pet dogs be raised the same way and grow up to be as well mannered as service dogs?!” –B.E.

Your puppy doesn’t have to be a Service Dog to act like one and most of the things we do with our SDiT (Service Dog in Training) are not difficult and are fun activities that help you build a better relationship with your dog.

All that being said what exactly is PROJECT: Service Dog in Training?

PROJECT: Service Dog in Training 

PROJECT: Service Dog in Training is a combination of everything we’ve been doing, learning, and sharing on our blog over the past 10 years.

At it’s core we’re going to teach you how to raise and train your puppy like a Service Dog in Training (SDiT).

Here’s a quick outline of what we plan on doing over the next 2 years:

Phase I (Sep. 2018 – Feb. 2019)

Over the past 10+ years we’ve raised 11 Service Dogs in Training for multiple organizations.

During that time I’ve thoroughly read a half dozen puppy raiser manuals, dozens of books on dogs, blog posts, white papers, and various other material about dog training and behavior.

We’ve even attended conferences and seminars to further our knowledge about all things dog.

On top of all the book work and lectures I’m also apprenticing and working to become a Certified Professional Dog Trainer.

My goal in Phase I is to share what I know about raising and training a Service Dog puppy with you, right here on the blog.

Charlie a Service Dog in Training
Charlie a Service Dog in Training

Phase II (Feb. 2019 – Jul. 2020)

As I mentioned earlier we plan on getting our next Service Dog puppy around February 2019 and that’s when the real fun begins. The goal of Phase II is to follow the guidelines we wrote in Phase I on how to raise a SDiT.

We will keep a weekly Vlog to share what we’re doing with our puppy including his successes and failures.

Guys, every puppy is different. It’s very possible that we will have to make changes on the fly. Some puppies advance quicker while others take more time.

It’s even possible our puppy will not make it as a Service Dog.

There are many great career changed puppies that get adopted and move on to other jobs like Search and Rescue, Therapy Dogs, or Family Pets.

Just to give you an idea, we’ve had more failures then successes. Out of the 11 dogs we’ve raised 4 are working dogs, 2 are still in training, and 5 are career changed.

This is not uncommon many dogs do not have the proper temperament, health requirements, or flat out just don’t want to work…they’d rather be couch potatoes.

Phase II will help me make adjustments to my initial ideas outlined in Phase I.

Phase III (Sep 2018 – Sep 2020)

The goal of Phase III is to gather everything we learned from Phase I and Phase II into comprehensive guides to help you raise your next puppy like a Service Dog in Training.

  • Printables – puppy training basics.
  • Quickstart Guides -common puppy behavior problems
  • E-Books – dog behavior and obedience training.
  • Sponsor a Puppy – The cost to raise and train a service dog often exceeds $20,000. We need all the help we can get to provide these pups to individuals in need free of charge
  • And More…tell us if there’s anything you’d like us to produce to help you with your puppy.

The Goals of PROJECT: Service Dog in Training?

  1. Provide Service Dogs FREE of charge to individuals with disabilities.
  2. Teach you how to raise and train your puppy like a Service Dog in Training (SDiT).
  3. Raise public awareness about Service Dogs and SDiTs.

What say you?

Do you have any questions about how to train a service dog puppy?

Tell us about it in the comment section below.

PROJECT: Service Dog in Training. It’s simple we’re putting together a guide that will teach you how to raise and train your puppy as if he were a Service Dog in Training. After 10+ years raising 11 Service Dog puppies I decided to get all of my knowledge down into one (hopefully) organized guide. #servicedogs #assistancedogs #servicedogintraining #servicedogpuppy #puppyintraining #raiseapuppy #puppytrainingguide
PROJECT: Service Dog in Training – Your “How to” guide for training a puppy like a Service Dog in Training.

Top Picks For Our Puppies

    We Like: Beef Collagen Sticks - All of our pups love to bite, nip, and chew. We love using Collagen Sticks to help divert these unwanted behaviors.
    We Like: Calmeroos Puppy Toy w/ Heartbeat and Heat Packs - Perfect for new puppies. Helps ease anxiety in their new home.
    We Like: Crazy Dog Train-Me Treats - We use these as our high-value treats for our guide dog puppies.
    We Like: The Farmer's Dog - A couple months ago we started feeding Raven fresh dog food and she loves it! Get 50% off your first order of The Farmer's Dog.

Check out more of our favorites on our New Puppy Checklist.

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  1. Thank you for visiting our blog. I noticed and corrected a typo in the section you quoted. However, it seems you are not seeing the link. Here’s what it should say:

    QUICK TIP: For several years we’ve been clicker training our puppies. Stay tuned for more blog posts on how to clicker train your puppy.

    Before clicker training we just used a the word “YES!” to mark all behaviors rather than use the clicker. We used all the same principles of clicker training just without the clicker. Over time we found our puppies learned quicker with the consistency of a click.

    FYI, we do phase out the clicker as our puppies get older and mostly use a marker word with our older dogs.

    Hopefully that helps. Good luck with your training!


    In the puppyintraining.com/what-commands-do-you-teach-a-service-dog
    it says:

    QUICK TIP: For several years we’ve been our puppies. Stay tuned for a more a blog post on how to clicker train your puppy.
    0. NAME – to get your puppy’s attention.

    WHAT WAS OMITTED at “we’ve been our puppies”. ?
    After five Dobermans and now a German Pinscher, I choose to NOT use clicker training.
    So, I want to know what you used to use before you started clicker training.

    Thanks for setting me straight.
    Thanks for an EXCELLENT list of basic dog CUES !


    Patt Anderson and Copper GP

  3. Unfortunately, we haven’t had the funding to raise service puppies from beginning to end. Since publishing this post we’ve raised two litters and started the service dog training process for 3 puppies. One was career changed, one is still in training, and one is working as a service dog.

    We have this post abut service dog costs that goes into more detail about the expenses of a service dog.

    Best of luck to your 9 week old yellow lab.

  4. I thank you for your service and am sorry for the wounds you endured to keep us safe. Hope you find the answers needed to help train.

  5. Hi- Curious how your goal went of completing service training. Also. What causes the cost to be so high to train? I am loving learning from you, I now have a 9 week yellow lab I would like to have amazing manners and be a great addition to our family.

  6. I have trained dogs in the past as working dogs, bot military and civilian law enforcement. Now comes the time when I need a service dog. Having spent quite a bit of time in combat, I have PTSD (Post Traumatic Strees INJURY, the new acronym) as it is an injury. At times I will have the irrational thought that there is someone in the house when I get home that intends to do harm. That can happen while heading to the restroom at a restaurant as well. Training my dog to do a NON-aggressive search and report back is the easy one. I have another issue that comes from the same place. It is almost and OCD type picking at the skin on my left elbows (which is already dry) to the point that it will bleed. Do you have any ideas on how to get my puppy to intervene by licking, barking, or pawing me to interrupt the behavior. Therapist has already written up the letters needed for a service dog and thinks that it will be a big help to me in being able to lie without these hiccups. Until you have experienced even these small things, it is hard to imagine how much they affect your life.

  7. Early congratulations on your new puppy! You could and should start training your puppy as soon as you get him. I’m putting together a blog post that will cover things you can teach your puppy at 8 weeks old. If you have the means you might consider working with a local certified professional dog trainer. They can help you put together a training plan and give you tips while you work with your puppy. When we first get our puppies we start working on good house manners, basic obedience, and socialization. We don’t worry too much about task training until our puppies are a little older. Service dogs don’t need to be registered they just need to be able to perform a task that mitigates your disability. Here’s a post that we put together that includes many of the commands we teach our service dog puppies: https://puppyintraining.com/what-commands-do-you-teach-a-service-dog/ Hopefully that helps. Good luck with your training!

  8. I will be getting a puppy in Sept. 2020. He’ll only be 8 weeks old, so he’s still a little to young to start training. I am permanently disabled, (I have mobility issues), so I would love to train him to help me keep my balance and also to help retrieve objects off the ground and lower shelves. I use a cane and I also use a wheel chair on occasion. How would I go about training him and getting him registered as a service dog?

  9. Nice article! Training dogs with different behaviours and capabilities is such a hard thing to do. But since you prepared a systematic as well as an understandable ways, this work will surely be met even if it takes time. A very fascinating to read.

  10. Oh, I see. Ah well, I’m still going to follow and read a lot here on the blog anyway. The process is exciting and really fascinating. After all, by april my pup is still just a pup – and there’s still A LOT to learn. For now, as my generel guide, I’ve downloaded several puppy raiser manuals, my favourite so far being the one from the Guide Dog Foundation, and secondly, the Guide Dogs for the Blind – very informative and excellent material for raising a pup, on top of all the dog-puppy-training books (the Dummie’s editions being excellent reads, thank you for the recommendations!).

  11. Awesome! I’m excited for you and your new puppy. We were hoping to have a puppy to train by end of February, but now it’s looking like April at the earliest. We still plan on tracking all of our progress here on the blog. Your puppy will be a couple months ahead of ours, but hopefully we can still get you helpful information on how to raise a puppy. Good luck!

  12. I am so excited to follow this process. I’ve been reading all your blog posts (and all the recommend books and much much more) in preparation for my puppy I’m bringing home in February 2019 too. My intentions are to raise him like a service dog. Which is why I fell for this blog. I cannot wait to follow the project, and reflect on it with my own pup, the next many months (and years). Thank you for all the tips and inspiration.

  13. Service dogs are one dog for one person and perform specific tasks to help that person cope with a disability. Therapy dogs are one dog for everyone—they bring cheer and comfort to hospital patients, assisted living center and nursing home residents, homeless families, and students.

  14. You impress me. I just love it “We don’t want to teach your puppy to be good. We want your puppy to be GREAT!!!” Thanks for free training mate. Its gonna be useful especially new dog owners. Keep going!

  15. Love the plan and look forward to your Vlog posts. Truth is, even if a pup doesn’t make it to the service dog level it will still have more training than 98% of all dogs out there. I was a retail manager for 26 years. I welcomed any dog into my stores as long as they were good citizens. And you need good training to be a good citizen.

  16. I am so in awe with what you do. I’ve been learning through the Instagram posts but I love receiving the email notifications about a new blog post so I can follow your journey!

    Also going to be going through your existing content to learn more about the previous puppies you raised.

  17. Having a clear and concise plan is great advice that I need to follow more often. I have all the information in my head. Now I just need to get it written down in the blog. Stay tuned!

  18. Sounds like a solid, clear and concise plan!! I’m a teacher and I know the more organized I am with my lesson planning, the more successful I am at implementing and teaching the material, so I’m sure you’ll be great with your future service dog in training! I’m excited to see the progression from pregnant mama to puppy in training to service dog!!

  19. I haven’t really thought to much about spotlighting the people who have our Guide/Service Dogs mainly because I want to respect their privacy. There’s a lot you can do with a senior doggy. One thing I have learned when working with Stetson (he’s almost 12) is to keep in mind he can’t do the same things he could when he was younger because of arthritis and his general body aches.

  20. What a great cause you are working toward. I hope you are able to spotlight some of the people who benefit from your Guide or Service dogs. I also look forward to learning some new tips and tricks for my senior doggy.

  21. I agree on the barking. I want my dogs to bark a little for protection. We’re working on letting Raven know when it’s okay to stop barking.

  22. This is exciting. I want a new dog but I want to make sure he/she is well mannered. Of course I do want him to bark when necessary. Can’t wait to hear more!

  23. Every time I raise a puppy I learn something new! 🙂 I think one of the big things is like Nike says: “Just Do It”. I always hold the Service Dog puppies to a higher standard then my own dogs. Change your mindset, have rules and boundaries, and be consistent, persistent, and patient with your dog (I’m speaking to myself about Stetson and Raven).

  24. I can’t wit to read all about how to train a service dog puppy from birth. I’m sure I will learn a lot about where we went wrong when training our puppy who is now fully grown. I hope we can still train our dog to be better behaved with your suggestions.

    Looking forward to your weekly blogs

  25. Of course if you wanted to sponsor a puppy their would be some kind of donation involved. Down the line we’re thinking about charging a fee for some premium products or services. I remember before I started volunteering at the guide and service dog schools I was always very interested in learning about how Service Dogs were trained to behave so well in public places. Hopefully the information I share over the next two years will help others with their dog’s training and behavior. Oh, as much as you enjoy reading about cute pups we love playing with them 🙂

  26. Wow! This program sounds fantastic! Are you going to charge for the materials and information? I think having a pet that is well mannered like a service dog sounds like a dream come true! Thank you for the continued information. I love you blog and reading about your cute pups!

  27. I agree! I think one of the reasons Service Dogs are so happy is because they get to be with their partners all the time.

  28. I’m excited too! If you think of any questions your might have please leave them in the comment sections of the blog posts that way I can hopefully help others who have similar questions about Service Dogs and training.

  29. FINALLY!!! I am so excited for this!!!! Can’t wait to read it all 🙌🏻🙌🏻🙌🏻

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