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Susquehanna Service Dogs Facility Dogs

Therapy dog

Facility dogs support adults and children with physical, emotional and behavioral disabilities. These dogs work in schools, office settings or other types of facilities. They are owned by either the handler or the facility. If the facility owns the dogs, at least one person in the facility must complete special training to learn how to safely handle the dog. Each dog is specially trained for the needs of the facility.

A facility dog can be a valuable tool for schools, offices and the work place. Schools have found that having a dog constantly available allows teachers and staff members to better meet students' needs, keep them safer and ease difficult situations. SSD has been very successful placing facility dogs in schools. Facility dogs have also been provided to assist within the court system, and with medical and behavioral services and the individuals providing services, such as social workers; speech pathologists; physical, occupational and behavioral therapists; psychologists; psychiatrists and others.

When a facility dog is involved, people often respond more positively and enthusiastically, especially if they are children. With the assistance of a facility dog, students learn empathy, sharing and patience. By reducing the effects of outside stimuli, the dog can help students increase their attention span. The dog can also help calm a person. In a therapy situation, the presence of the dog can help a person talk about difficult situations. Facility dogs make exercises more attractive, interesting and enjoyable, assisting people to improve their ability to move and respond to physical stimuli, and helping them to more freely interact with their environment and other people.

Facility dogs can be trained to:

  • Provide light or deep pressure
  • Visit for an extended time with a person
  • Give attention to individuals when needed
  • Act as an attraction to encourage walking, crawling, standing, sitting or other movements
  • Act as a brace for standing, sitting or walking
  • Push or pull objects with the person receiving therapy to encourage muscle activity
  • Perform directed or automatic retrieves
  • Carry objects to the person receiving therapy
  • Walk in a controlled manner next to the individual
  • Submit to supervised handling by the student or person receiving therapy
  • Provide consistent companionship

Facility dogs are specially selected because of their innate awareness of the emotions and actions of the people around them. SSD enhances this ability through special task training. All facility dogs must exhibit excellent manners, follow basic obedience cues, and go potty on cue. They must also exhibit good social behavior (no aggression, no begging, no undesirable playful activity, etc.).

Our application and matching process identifies the canine temperament and tasks the dog will need to perform in the specific facility. Once a dog has been matched with a facility and has completed its training, the handlers will be trained. Training typically takes five to seven days and is held in Harrisburg, PA, with at least one training day at the facility. SSD can accommodate up to eight people from the facility for this training.

The fee for service is $5,000, which covers the dog, canine supplies, handlers' training, certification, recertification and follow up for the life of the working dog. If the dog dies or needs to be retired within the first year and this is not due to the handler's error, we will provide a replacement dog at no cost. If the dog dies or needs to be retired during the second year and this is not due to the handler's error, we will provide a replacement dog at half price. We are committed to providing follow up for the working life of the dog.

If you have questions, please call SSD at 717-599-5920.

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Assistance Dogs International

Susquehanna Service Dogs is a fully accredited member of Assistance Dogs International.

Animal Assisted Intervention International logo - Full Member 2017

Susquehanna Service Dogs is a full member of Animal Assisted Intervention International.


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