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Owner Trained Service Dogs

Our owner trained service dog program is currently full.

Susquehanna Service Dogs includes an owner trained service dog program.  You may elect to train your own dog as your service dog. However, you and your dog must meet certain requirements in order to become a certified service dog team through Susquehanna Service Dogs.

Please thoroughly read our application, training, and certification processes for owner trained dogs before submitting an application request.

Application Process

In order to be accepted into our owner trained dog program, the dog must be in good health, up-to-date on its shots, and must be spayed or neutered at the appropriate age. Additional testing may be required.

The puppy or dog must pass an initial temperament test. Please be aware that only 20% of dogs will pass this in-depth test. There is a fee for this evaluation. All applicants must request an application for the temperament test.

Training Your Dog

All dogs in our owner trained dog program must attend puppy classes and puppy outings with our other service dogs in training. The fee for each semester must be paid in advance and is non-refundable, even if you do not attend all classes. Each semester is four months long. Our training staff will determine how many semesters you must attend.

If you attend at least 80% of our classes, you may be loaned an SSD scarf or harness.

In addition to regular puppy classes, you must attend private lessons to teach your dog the tasks necessary to mitigate your disability. Our training staff will teach you how to train your dog to perform these tasks. The lessons will be held at a mutually agreeable time and location chosen by SSD. Payment is due at the completion of each lesson.

As with all SSD puppies and dogs in training, your dog must pass frequent temperament evaluations throughout training. Your dog will stay in the training program at the discretion of Susquehanna Service Dogs. There is no guarantee that your dog will have a suitable temperament to qualify as a service dog.

If you and your dog do not complete the training process, you must return all materials loaned to you by SSD.

Certification

When your dog is fully trained, over one year of age, and meets all of our temperament and health requirements, you and your dog can start the certification process.

To become certified by Susquehanna Service Dogs, you and your dog must complete a two and a half week team training through SSD in Grantville, PA. At the end of a successfully completed team training, SSD requires you and your dog to pass the Assistance Dogs International Public Access Test and either the SSD Service Dog Task Test or the SSD Hearing Dog Task Test.

You will receive an SSD harness suitable for your dog and your disability with our logo patches, adaptive equipment normally supplied to SSD teams, a dated letter of certification, and an ID card which expires yearly. You will be invited to become part of the SSD family and to participate in all SSD activities and available support.

We also require yearly recertification. Testing is held in the Harrisburg, PA area.

There is no guarantee that a team that starts the certification process will successfully complete the process. The final certification is granted at the discretion of Susquehanna Service Dogs because you and your dog will be identified as an SSD team and will be representing SSD. If at any time during this process, Susquehanna Service Dogs feels that the dog is not suited for service work, we have the right to end this process.

Fee Schedule

Below are the fees related to the owner trained service dog program. All fees must be paid in advance.

Program Fee
Temperament test and training evaluation $50
Puppy/dog class (per 4 month semester)
  • 5 classes per semester
  • 4 outings (2 optional)
  • 1 lecture
  • 1 evaluation
$100
Public behavior outings $50
Basic clicker class Free
Early socialization classes
  • 7 weekly classes
  • 1 outing
  • 1 evaluation
$75
Puppy/dog harness or scarf (on loan)
  • Deposit is refundable if dog does not complete the process or it can be used toward the team training balance
$100 deposit
Private lessons (1 hour) $50
Team training
  • Includes SSD harness and ID card, follow up for the working life of the dog, annual retesting
$800 ($400 nonrefundable if team training is not completed)
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Susquehanna Service Dogs Cookbook
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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