Read about the entire process:
The process at Service Dog Express begins when you fill out a submission form. Upon receiving your request, we will then send you an email that outlines how our training procedure takes place, and you will be assigned the most appropriate trainer according to disability or location.
The first visit should be conducted at your home (if applicable). If you would like to work with your own dog, our trainer will be ready to assess whether your dog has the right traits to become a Service Dog for your specific needs. If you do not already have a dog, the trainer will discuss your needs and disabilities and help you find an appropriate dog, many of which can be found on our website:
Once the initial home intake and choice of dog is made, the training process begins. Training is given at a very reasonable hourly rate, and, ideally, should occur once a week with the trainer. In between sessions, we strongly encourage you to work with your dog on the “homework” provided by the trainer. Purchasing a Service Dog vest should occur as early in the process as possible so that you can begin to take your dog out into public forums for practice (once the trainer has given approval).
In-home training consists of learning basic commands such as “sit”, “down”, “stay”, “watch me”, “leave it”, “off”, and “heel”, etc. Any unwanted behaviors in the dog will be addressed under the advisement of our trainers.
Once you and the trainer feel ready, training will then be moved into public settings – such as pet stores, where the Service Dog will be exposed to many different sights, sounds, and other animals. Trainers will always work at a pace that is comfortable for you. The ultimate goal is to 1) successfully train the Service Dog/Handler team to pass the Public Access Test (see below) and to 2) have the Service Dog perform tasks specific to each client’s disability, with the ultimate goal of helping you reintegrate into society to become fully functioning, and productive with purpose and confidence. All training will be slightly different depending on the client’s particular disability, be it of a psychiatric, mobility, medical alert, etc.
All Service Dog Express dogs and clients are trained to pass the Public Access Test as dictated by Assistance Dogs International. Our Service Dogs are taught to sense when clients are experiencing psychological symptoms, alerting and protecting. The dogs do this by physically providing a “shield” (COVER) either in front of, behind, or at the side of the client to make them feel safe. The dogs also nudge their clients or alert them in other tactile ways so that the client remembers to use the Service Dog as a comforting presence, stroking the dog or talking to the dog gently.
Our Mobility Service Dogs are trained to work with wheelchair-bound clients, those with instability while walking, and those who suffer from extreme pain, etc.
Our Diabetes Detection Dogs are trained to alert clients to changes in sugar levels and alert.
Our Epilepsy Detection Dogs are trained to either alert to oncoming seizures, protect clients during a seizure, and alert others when a seizure occurs.
Our Autism Service Dogs are taught to remain by the client’s side at all times and to be used as a calming device.
Our Medical Alert Dogs are trained to sense changes in metabolites secreted through the skin and breath of their handler to alert to any changes.
Updated vaccination records are a must for every Service Dog, as is monthly heartworm and flea/tick prevention. Each client must have a veterinarian that they have or will work with regularly should the need come up. We have a special partnership with a veterinarian in San Antonio that works with the majority of our Service Dogs, and offers 25% discounts for all treatment, but clients are always welcome to choose a veterinarian with whom they feel most comfortable.
It is of utmost importance that the client understands the necessity of working with the dog between training times. Clients are expected to train daily with their dogs between training sessions.
Service Dog Express provides answers to any questions clients might have regarding Service Dog access rights in the workplace, in apartments, and regarding accessibility in places of business. Clients are also guided through the process of getting the proper vests and harnesses for their dog, and how to respond to questions or requests from people in the public who may not understand ADA laws regarding Service Dog accessibility.