HOUSTON 501(c)(3) PROVIDING FREE, IN-HOME SERVICE DOG TRAINING FOR VETERANS AND
SUBSIDIZED TRAINING FOR CIVILIANS
SUFFERING FROM PTSD AND OTHER DISABILITIES

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Service Dogs

  • Give Us Paws is committed to training methods based on positive reinforcement and supported by behavioral science.
  • We are committed to training service dogs to a high level of reliability their handlers can depend on.
  • Our training program is designed to take 6 months to a year.  We adjust to the abilities of our client handlers to ensure success, even if it takes longer to produce a functional service dog team.  We require complete participation of our client handlers in completing their assignments, keeping training logs updated, and meeting with a trainer at every scheduled session.
  • We train in the most efficient manner possible, making sure our trainers are skilled in using positive reinforcement to build the behaviors people with disabilities need and that make our service dogs safe and reliable in public.
  • We provide and require continuing education for our trainers to ensure they are skilled in timing, reinforcement techniques, and setting appropriate criteria for teaching clients to train their own service dogs.
  • At completion of the program, a handler/service dog team will have passed the Public Access Test developed by Assistance Dogs International (ADI) and have full control of at least three tasks that mitigate the handler’s disability.  The handler will have training skills and the dog will have foundation behaviors to help develop further task behaviors as needed.
  • We provide continued support for our client handlers for the life of a service dog through follow-up certification, individual consultations and training sessions as needed to address training newly needed tasks or training problems, and/or group events to provide training opportunities.

Task training is customized to the needs of each individual handler.  Some of the tasks available include:

  • Alerting to impending PTSD episodes, averting them in the process
  • Providing "cover" for the handler during episodes of anxiety or depression
  • Nudging handler out of bed in the morning
  • Awaking handler from nightmares
  • Retrieving dropped items, phone, personal care items or medications
  • “Getting help:” alerting a caregiver
  • Opening and closing doors to rooms, cabinets, refrigerators, or businesses
  • Pulling laundry baskets, pulling sheets up to make beds
  • Taking off shoes and socks
  • And many others...

The cost to train a Service Dog in our program is $5,000.00-$8,000.00, but we do everything we can to provide training services free of charge for our disabled veterans. For civilians, if financial eligibility requirements are met, this amount can be subsidized in part or whole according to your family's combined countable yearly income, if funds are available. Please see our eligibility and sliding scale pricing to see if you qualify for subsidized services.


We follow the standards set forth by Assistance Dogs International (ADI.)  We strive for excellence in setting our training standards.

 

Service Dog Definition

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) defines service animals as "dogs that are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities." It also specifies that "organizations that serve the public must allow service animals to accompany people with disabilities in all areas of the facility where the public is normally allowed to go."

That's why it's important to differentiate Service Dogs from therapy dogs, emotional support dogs or companion animals (pets): Service dogs and their handlers are granted special access rights that don't apply to other types of animals.

Therapy dogs visit patients and residents in hospitals, assisted living facilities, nursing homes, schools, and shelters to provide solace, affection, and stress relief. Their interactions tend to be short duration. Therapy dogs have very stable temperaments to tolerate other animals and occasionally intense situations without becoming upset, nervous, or dangerous. These dogs can be extremely helpful to those they visit, but they are not the same as Service Dogs who form a long-term team with their handlers. Handlers of therapy dogs are not permitted public accommodation and access like handlers of service dogs.

An Emotional Support Animal is a dog or other common domestic animal that provides theraputic support to a disabled or elderly owner through companionship, non-judgmental positive regard, affection, and a focus in life. If a doctor determines that a patient with a disabling mental illness would benefit from the companionship of an emotional support animal, the doctor may write letters supporting a request by the patient to keep the ESA in "no pets" housing or to travel with the ESA in the cabin of an aircraft. ESAs are not task trained like service dogs are. Handlers of ESAs are not permitted public accommodation and access like handlers of service dogs.

More information about Service Dogs is available from Assistance Dogs International.

FAQS

Q: WHO TRAINS THE SERVICE DOGS?

A: In Give Us Paws' training program, the primary trainer of a the a Service Dogs is are the dog's disabled handler with the instruction, coaching and guidance of a qualified dog trainer supported by our staff. Our trainer will come to a client's home an average of once a week, with initial training sessions scheduled 2 or 3 times each week. Each training session will last 1 hour. The handler will be required to log 4 hours of training each week. At completion of the program, a handler/service dog team will have passed the Public Access Test developed by Assistance Dogs International (ADI) and have full control of at least three tasks that mitigate the handler's disability. The handler will have training skills and the dog will have foundation behaviors to help develop further task behaviors as needed.

Q: HOW MUCH DOES IT COST TO TRAIN A DOG?

A: The cost to train a Service Dog in our program is $6,000.00-$8,000.00, but we do everything we can to provide training services free of charge for our disabled veterans. For civilians, if financial eligibility requirements are met, this amount can be subsidized in part or whole according to your family's combined countable yearly income, if funds are available. Please see our eligibility requirements and sliding scale pricing to see if you qualify for subsidized services.

Q WHO SHOULD APPLY FOR SERVICE DOG TRAINING?

A: Any disabled American Veteran can apply to Give Us Paws to train their existing dog that's over 6 months and less than 6 years old. This service is also available to other Americans with disabilities. Please view our eligibility requirements. Once an application is accepted, an evaluation interview will be conducted and every attempt will be made to acquire funding for candidates.

Q: HOW DOES GIVE US PAWS GET FUNDING?

A: All of the money and supplies needed for our training programs are donated through private or corporate sponsorships and gifts.

Q: HOW DO I APPLY FOR A SERVICE DOG?

A: Check eligibility requirements, go to the Service Dog Application and fill out the application form!

Q: HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO TRAIN A SERVICE DOG?

A: The Give Us Paws training program generally takes 6 months to a year.

Q: ARE THERE DISABILITIES FOR WHICH YOU DO NOT PROVIDE SERVICES?
A: We DO NOT provide services for the following disabilities:
  1. Visually or hearing impaired or non-verbal individuals
  2. Seizure Alert (we will train for seizure response)
  3. Bi-polar, multiple personalities or schizophrenia
    (exceptions may be made on case-by-case basis)
  4. Children suffering from Autism
  5. Children under the age of sixteen years

Other disability qualifications determined on a case-by-case basis.

Q: WHAT BREEDS OF DOGS MAKE GOOD SERVICE DOGS?

A: We leave breed choice up to our clients, although we consider ease of care, increased veterinary and grooming costs for large or long-haired dogs, and size requirements for certain handlers or tasks. We recommend our clients choose a type of dog they like with these qualities in mind. First and foremost, our evaluation of a dog's temperament before being accepted into our training program is our main consideration.

Q: ARE OTHER ANIMALS ALLOWED IN THE HOUSEHOLD DURING THE TRAINING?

A: If you have an existing dog or cat in the household other than your Service Dog, we will make determinations on a case-by-case basis as to whether our program is right for your household. Other animals can present distractions which detract from the efficiency of the training schedule. Once accepted into the Service Dog training program, we do not allow fostering or ownership of any new animals into the household until the training program is completed.