Steps Potential Handlers will need to take to be qualified with Healing Companions
- First, do you qualify for a psychiatric service dog? You must fit the criteria under the Americans with Disabilities Act, be 18 or older, and live within an easy drive of Lorain County, Ohio (1 hour or less).
- If you are a veteran, go to this link: http://www.assistancedogsinternational.org
- If you are under 18 years old, go to this link: http://www.assistancedogsinternational.org/
- If you do qualify, fill out the application at the bottom of the page here: http://healing-companions.org/do-i-qualify-for-a-psd/ , pay the $50 non-refundable application fee, and you will be sent a link to access the application.
- You will then receive a call with our Executive Director, Jane Miller, discussing specific needs and qualifications. An extensive intake process will begin,
- A dog search (done at our partnering dog shelters) suitable for your specific needs will begin. Dogs trained by the organization are usually between 1-2 years old and have the potential to complete the extensive training process. As you are within driving distance of Lorain County, Ohio, you will have to meet the dog to see if it’s the right fit.
- If the dog is suitable, you will adopt the dog and begin the training process.
- The training process takes 1.5-2 years of weekly training meeting with healing companions trainer and daily consistent practicing of skills they are working on and homework.The training is expansive and includes training the dog public access skills i.e. tucking tail, shake-off on cue, not eating popcorn and/or food in movie theaters or restaurant floors, using elevators etc. The Psychiatric Service Dog (PSDIT) will be trained tasks that mitigate the effects of the symptoms the handler experiences. Each PSDIT is tailored to the individual needs of the handler. If the dog does not have basic training upon adoption, the dog will start by taking classes with a positive reward based trainer.
- Quarterly contact between the dog’s trainer and the client will be made throughout the lifetime of the dog (6-8 years) and training a successor dog will begin after these 6-8 years.
“The Program” tab on our website includes more details regarding training, qualifications, and includes the initial application. See: http://healing-companions.org/the-program/