The journey from puppy to service dog is a long one, made possible by the dedicated work of a large team of volunteers, puppy raisers and sitters, and staff and field trainers.
Training begins for our puppies in the Puppy Program. In the homes of Puppy Raisers or in the cells of Bland Puppy Raisers, puppies learn the foundations of the task work that will be taught to them in advanced training.
Dogs who have successfully completed the Puppy Program will begin Advanced Training. The dogs in training are placed with either a Staff Trainer (a full-time employee of Saint Francis) or a Field Trainer (an independent contract trainer). We run weekly training classes where trainers work in cooperation with one another, creating an atmosphere of support and knowledge sharing. Assistance is always available when extra help is needed. Our Training Program is designed specifically to prepare our dogs for the ultimate goal of being matched with a Partner.
STAFF AND FIELD TRAINERS
Trainers come from various backgrounds. Most of the trainers have volunteered at Saint Francis as sitters and then Puppy Raisers. There are also occasions when experienced trainers come to us with skills that are conducive to service dog work. We build on their knowledge and channel it into the specialized field of service dogs. One of the best ways to learn how the Dog Training Program works is to start at the beginning by raising a puppy.