Autism service dogs can help in many ways tethering, deep pressure therapy, acting as a deterrent for self-harm, calming tantrums and meltdowns, acting as an anchor to help with bolting, confidence building, and more. However, autism affects people differently, and our program uses tailored training, so we want to make sure to put together a training program that fit our clients’ specific needs and lifestyle. We often get potential clients asking us about the ways the service dog would be of help to their situation, but to answer that question, we'd need to look at their specific needs and determine what an autism service dog can do for them. We have a detailed 12–14 page application to help us determine what specific training the dogs will need. We'll also ask for videos and additional information so we can be as accurate as possible in getting them the right dog and training.
The very first step for our dogs is going through our puppy raising program. We test them bi-weekly to determine which program they'd best fit into. All of our dogs are handpicked by our trainers and temperament tested for each program. Once our dogs have completed our puppy raising program, we start them off in obedience. Here they learn commands such as heel, sit, down, auto sits, come, leave it, bed and load up. Our dogs are raised and trained both at our facility and at our trainers' homes. This helps us get the dog used to a family/home environment, thus making the transition into your home a lot easier. We try to make all the training relevant to what the dogs' daily lifestyle will be by beginning training in a home environment. Our dogs spend a great deal of time in obedience training since this is the foundation of the program. To move on to the next step in training, each dog must pass our standard obedience test to demonstrate the proper level of obedience needed to move on to the next step in training. We test on/off-leash and in low/high-level distraction settings.
The second step is public access. We begin by reinforcing all obedience training in a low-distraction environment, such as a store when it's not too busy. We gradually work our way up to higher distraction environments such as busy shopping centers restaurants and office buildings. Once we have good, consistent obedience in high-distraction environments, we throw in some of our own distractions to test the dog’s ability to successfully handle them. We train the dog around your daily routines—for example, if your child rides the bus to school, we'll train the dog on our city's public transportation. While in training we also bring our dog around in different transportation, such as vehicles, buses, commercial airlines, and elevators. Before moving on to the last step, they are tested in public access, making sure they are ready for the final step in training. Again, we test the dog in low- and high-level distraction settings before passing onto the final step in training.
The last step of training is directed toward our customers’ specific needs[em dash]this is something that's added into the training throughout, but it is finalized in this step. Each case is unique. Your child’s specific needs and how he or she is affected by autism determine the training of each dog. The dogs can be trained in many things, such as tethering, stopping repetitive behavior, deep pressure therapy, and helping your child with specific tasks. There are many things that can be trained during this last step. Most importantly, we are bringing our obedience, public access, and specialized training together. We're happy to explain our autism service dog program further and discuss what ways the training can help your specific situation.
Cost depends on many factors, such as specific training required, location, and breed. Thus, we cannot give a quote without a completed application. Our autism service dog program starts at $23,000. Please keep in mind that our service dogs are at cost and not eligible for coverage under any health insurance plan or funding from any government program. We offer interest-free payment plans for those who qualify. Many clients also choose to fund-raise to help offset the cost.
Thank you for taking the time to learn how our program works. We want you to be well informed of the ins and outs of getting a service dog through Loyalty Service Dogs. We want to build strong relationships with each client we help. Please fill out an online application to begin your journey in getting a service dog