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A Word from the Executive Director
Susquehanna Service Dogs is a special part of Keystone Human Services. We train and place service dogs and hearing dogs with men, women and children with disabilities to help them achieve greater independence. We use clicker training, a positive training method, to train all of our dogs. Clicker training has become a way of life at SSD, a philosophy that guides our interactions with people and animals. It has become part of our belief system.
SSD provides a very positive and safe environment for all who are part of our program to change and grow. We change lives. Each dog is specially trained to mitigate each person’s disability, whether it is physical or not. We have found that people who have been partnered with a dog experience a 45% decrease in the challenges associated with their disability.
But SSD is about more than just placing dogs. It is about a positive, supportive attitude and the commitment of our staff and volunteers. SSD is a way of life. We believe that everyone can be successful, and it is our job to help them achieve success in a positive manner.
We are not just a dog program. We are a program that helps people move forward in a positive way. On this journey, everyone learns to search for the positive, to reward and mark wanted behaviors, to be calm, have patience and think creatively. They learn to take responsibility for teaching, noticing things and reinforcing behaviors. We start with the dogs, because it is easy to begin with a lab who loves food, but it quickly spreads to interactions with people. With the dogs, we mark a behavior the moment when the dog does it, using the clicker and treats. We ignore the behaviors we do not like and reinforce those we do. The treats, or reinforcers, only work if they cause the desired behavior to happen again, so people must learn to think about what would be reinforcing to the dog in different situations. And they learn that timing really matters.
These same concepts apply to interactions with people. We express our appreciation for others and their actions with verbal praise. Most of the time, the reinforcer is the actual positive words and the fact that someone noticed their behavior. People learn to interact positively with each other, and it goes beyond simple kindness and appreciation.
Being part of SSD means entering a world the way it should be. Life in SSD is practical, positive and rewarding. Ask our puppy raisers, our volunteers and our partners. And hopefully we are changing the world one click at a time.
Come experience Susquehanna Service Dogs. We would love to have you join us.