The first step in the service dog training process is, of course, finding the service dog prospect. Level Up can help you evaluate your needs, assess candidates and ultimately find a prospect who is most likely to succeed as a service dog.
Why We Evaluate Service Dog Prospects:
Most dogs are wonderful pets with a little training. The specialized work of a service dog, on the other hand, requires a particular temperament and range of aptitudes. If you are going to invest months or years into training a service dog prospect, you want the best possible chance of success. Picking the right dog for the job is critical.
The unfortunate truth is that most dogs are not equipped to handle the demands of service dog life, no matter how much they love us or we love them. In addition to being utterly heart-breaking on an emotional level, washing out a trainee after months of work can also be a financial loss. Thoughtful prospect selection helps to minimize that risk, although nothing eliminates it entirely.
What Traits We Evaluate:
- Is the dog physically capable of safely performing the tasks you need?
- Is the dog's temperament suitable for the difficult work of public access?
- How does the dog react to startling events such as loud noises, sudden movement or novel locations?
- Is the dog neutral or friendly to adults, children and other dogs even in stressful environments?
- How does the dog respond to handling by strangers, both expected and unexpected?
- Is the dog able to settle calmly even in a stimulating environment?
These are just a few of the traits we are looking for in a successful service dog prospect. Your tasks, your dog and the types of environments you spend the most time in will also be taken into account.
Level Up offers two types of prospect evaluation:
Option 1: We Evaluate Your Service Dog Prospect
If you would like Level Up to help you train your current dog for service work, the first step is an evaluation.
First, your trainer will send you an interview form to assess your needs. This gives us a baseline for the type of tasks you are likely to need and allows us to evaluate the attributes that will be the most important in a successful match. (A dog who is well-suited to psychiatric work is not necessarily well-suited to mobility work, for example.)
After that, we will schedule a time to meet with you and assess your dog individually. This is a prerequisite for being accepted into our service dog program. We also offer this as a stand-alone service to owner-trainers who want a professional evaluation. The evaluation takes 1-2 hours and costs $75.
Option 2: We Help You Find Your Service Dog Prospect.
Whenever possible, we prefer to help you find and select your service dog prospect. A professional evaluation can give you the confidence that you are choosing the dog with the best long-term chance to succeed at this specialized work. That means peace of mind in the long term.
We will meet with you ahead of time to talk about your needs and your lifestyle. If you choose to start with a puppy, we will help you find a reputable breeder and evaluate litters. If you would prefer to start with an adult dog, we can connect you with promising rescue dogs.
This may involve multiple evaluations and travel to find the best candidate. We charge a flat fee of $200 for consulting on prospect selection, plus $50 + travel expenses per evaluation.