Welcome to my Diary of a Service Dog Trainer. After being in the industry long enough, you start to notice a trend. People are not getting the dogs that they are being promised. I have a PTSD service dog and a cardiac SDiT. I understand that most people don’t grasp the full complexity of what properly trained service dogs provide. We place an incredible amount of trust in our dogs, the scamming has got to stop. Most people would be up in arms if a company was knowingly selling faulty pieces of medical equipment. Imagine those landing with home healthcare patients. The fake service dog is no different according to the ADA.
The people that you are trusting to train your dog to be a medical device are not always qualified to do so, and that is a really big problem. First and foremost, does the person or organization understand the struggles that come with a disability and the changes to your body? Are they educated enough to teach dogs how to alert? Do they understand how capable the right dog is?
I want to share some of my experiences in this blog. Training these dogs for people has put me in many different situations with dogs of different calibers. The dogs and the public have created some situations that range in hilarity and some in shock. You will get to hear all of my personal experiences. Service training has become stagnant due to miscommunication between all parties.
You have owner-trained dogs vs professionally trained dogs. But I have never experienced the coldness of that divide until just recently. Unfortunately, that is par for the course when it comes to social media. And it is trashing the industry because bad advice travels just as fast as good advice. Service dog groups on social media do not provide accurate information, nor do they police the bad information that can be harmful to our dogs. Please research before trying to apply the advice you read.
I want to dive right in by sharing a little bit about myself and why I started to train service dogs.
A Bit About Myself
Years ago I was in a horrific car accident that put me in a wheelchair and they said I would never walk again. I had spinal fractures and the damage to my legs has resulted in multiple reconstruction surgeries. Further, I have been diagnosed with neuropathy, complex regional pain syndrome, arthritis, heart issues, heart attack, Traumatic Brain Injury with damage to my right frontal lobe. I was also diagnosed with PTSD, agoraphobia, anxiety, and depression. My TBI has greatly impacted my ability to communicate, memory, and some coordination while the car accident has left me permanently physically disabled.
My diagnoses have come from 2 completely different situations years apart, this is what has inspired me to change the way I do things when it comes to service dogs. I moved from Texas to California at the end of 2019 and launched more programs than the 3 traditional routes which will open more doors for people. The 3 traditional options are owner trained service dogs, guided owner training, and board & train.
My Plans for Diary of A Service Dog Trainer
In my Diary of a Service Dog Trainer, I want to share my experiences from the past several years. I want to share tips, laughter, WTF moments, and everything in between.
We are doing our part to drive change in the service dog industry by combining the best possible training with the best possible dogs to help people who need it the most. I hope we will see many other trainers join and try to raise the bar above the entire barrel. There is no shortage of people for whom a service dog would be a life-changer. Also, I encourage everyone to read the ADA Regulations for Service Dogs from the Department of Justice.