Training starts as soon as we get our puppies, typically around 8 weeks of age, sometimes a little older in the case of our rescue dogs.
The first several weeks are dedicated to giving the puppies the most “pawsitive” experiences possible. This essential part of training helps ensure that the dog feels confident and resilient for their future job.
Training progresses through general obedience and task training as the dogs mature. By the time we pair our dogs with their handler we have invested 2 to 3 years of training into the dogs.
At PawPADs we have discovered immense power and opportunity in the years leading up to placement.
We have recognized that in addition to changing the lives of their future handler, these dogs can impact people during the training process in profound ways.
Through this realization the second part of our dual mission was born— utilizing the power of the human-canine bond as a therapeutic, educational, healing tool.
THE POWER OF PUPPIES
From the moment we bring our puppies into public we begin fulfilling the second part of our mission.
Public access trips are a prime opportunity to educate staff and customers about service dogs. Our trainers field questions related to the laws regarding service dogs, what a service dog can be trained for, and how can they assist a family member in need of a service dog.
Visits to schools and senior living facilities with our puppies can also be an educational and therapeutic experience for audiences.
Every dog that we train partake in a program specifically designed to help further our mission.
Our programs have touched the lives of inmates, veterans, students, and international entities interested in developing assistance dog programs.
ADEPT, or the Assistance Dog Education Program and Training internship was developed in 2017 as a collaboration between UW-River Falls and PawPADs.
Currently there are 15 students and 8 dogs participating in ADEPT.
The expansion of ADEPT has allowed us to begin training more dogs to fulfill the growing need for our incredible canine partners.
Our ADEPT interns learn not only how to train service dogs, but also how to educate and advocate on behalf of their dogs’ future handler as well as the assistance dog industry as a whole.
Beyond that our students are learning valuable personal skills such as communication, teamwork, problem solving, and time management. They also begin to understand the fundamentals of a nonprofit organization.
Our dogs are placed with their partner after a 2 week training camp. During this time we provide our clients with both the skills and education necessary to succeed with their dog.
We remain close with all of our teams which allows us to guide clients through access issues as well as provide advice in regards to their dog
VICTIM SUPPORT DOGS
We recognize that not every dog that goes through our program will be fit to be a physical assistance dog or a diabetic alert dog. It is essential that our dogs enjoy the job they are going to do, so we would never give a dog a job we didn’t feel would be perfect for them.
We have currently placed two Victim Support Dogs in Dakota County with 360 Communities. Ranger and Coco provide comfort to victims of domestic and sexual violence from the moment police are notified until their court proceedings are complete.
Ranger and Coco’s compassion and strong emotional intuition allows them to provide comfort and courage to the individuals they work with.
Whether our dogs enjoy life as a pet or placed as an assistance dog or facility dog, we take pride in knowing that each dog has impacted program participants in immeasurable ways.
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