Yes! Graduates of the Service Dog Coach Certificate program may refer to themselves as a Certified Service Dog Coach™ or use the abbreviation SDC™. Graduates will receive the SDC™ logo to use in their marketing materials, a certificate suitable for framing and will be listed in our online directory.
Earning the Cooperative Paws SDC® designation demonstrates that a trainer meets the requirements of a reputable educational program in service dog training, and shows the trainer’s commitment to reward-based methods.
SDC Graduate Benefits Also Include:
- The Cooperative Paws SDC® certificate
- Use of the SDC™ designation
- Use of the Cooperative Paws SDC® logo in marketing materials
- Service dog training business tools
- Online listing of graduates
- Earning CEU’s
- A private Facebook group for support, access to updated materials and service dog industry news
Cooperative Paws SDC® certification is flexible and graduates choose how they wish to apply the knowledge and skills they gained from the program. Many SDC graduates expand their own training businesses by incorporating service dog training into their existing dog training services. Some SDCs work for non-profit service dog organizations, while still others specialize in a particular area or type of service dog training.
There is no government provision for certification of service dogs in the United States. Certification of service dogs reflects the standards, training and quality of the organization or individual who certified the dog.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) states:
“Q17. Does the ADA require that service animals be certified as service animals?
A. No. Covered entities may not require documentation, such as proof that the animal has been certified, trained, or licensed as a service animal, as a condition for entry.”
Assessment and evaluation of service dogs is important, even if it is not a legal requirement. Cooperative Paws SDC® graduates receive tools to assess service dogs. Additionally, they learn about meaningful ways to document service dogs’ training.
Because SDCs choose how they wish to apply their knowledge and skills in service dog training, they vary in whether or not they choose to offer some type of certification to the dogs they work with. Many SDCs incorporate service dog training into their pet dog training businesses. However, some SDCs work for nonprofit service dog programs and still others do both!
We know you are busy! We allow for holidays (generously!) and work with students to plan coursework so they can best fit the program into their schedule. The 12 week estimated time frame allows for only 2 hours a week of time dedicated to the course as well as one flex week. The course is self-paced, so students can dedicate more hours some weeks and less others. Most students complete with a couple of weeks to spare.
We have found that setting a time limit is a benefit to students. It helps students stay on track and meet their goal of getting started in service dog training. We also recognize that trainers are busy, have commitments and travel schedules. So if you have scheduling concerns, please let us know so we can discuss your needs.
The Cooperative Paws SDC® curriculum is comprehensive and covers all of the foundation knowledge and tasks needed to begin offering service dog training. Also, essential business tools are included as well as access to Veronica, via discussion areas and email for feedback on training, projects and questions as needed.
The curriculum includes:
- Types of service dogs and ways they can help
- Strategies to adapt training for people with disabilities
- How to select a dog for service work, how to screen client’s pets effectively and sensitively
- How to train essential service dog tasks with guidance and feedback from our expert
- retrieve (also pull, hold, and carry)
- hearing alert
- targeting based (push doors, turn lights, access buttons)
- task training “recipes” with step by step instructions for numerous tasks including commonly requested tasks like anxiety alert and deep pressure therapy
- Behaviors and training needed for public access and learn how to assess public access readiness
- Service dog program challenges such as matching recipients with dogs, providing education to recipients, supporting working teams and more!
- Strategies to incorporate service dog training into a pet dog training business
- How to collaborate with healthcare professionals (and paperwork that makes this easy!)
- How to handle unique cases such as behavior consultations with working service dogs and “at home only” service dogs
- A comprehensive Learning Library with books, articles and resources on service dog specialties including mobility, guide, hearing, psychiatric/PTSD, autism, diabetic, seizure-alert and more.
Business Tools include
- Guidelines and form to assess service dog candidates
- Guidelines and form to evaluate public access work
- New client intake & questionnaire template
- Marketing tools – website content examples, social media and search engine optimization information
- Client handouts
- Medical release, Healthcare provider letters & forms, Client Contract Addendum created in consultation with an attorney
Yes! The SDC™ program includes content on a wide range of service dog specialties including psychiatric service dogs. The SDC program covers foundation task training, knowledge, temperament requirements, public access assessments and business tools that are needed to train all service dogs. Step by step task training is included in the program, including “training recipes” for tasks often needed for service dogs for people with PTSD such as an anxiety alert and Deep Pressure Therapy.
The SDC also includes a Learning Library packed with resources, scientific research and recommended books on different specialties including commonly requested specialties such as PTSD, Autism and the latest research on medical alert/response. Additionally, you have access to Veronica, a service dog expert, via email and via discussion areas at the bottom of each lesson if you have specific questions as you complete the program.
Each lesson involves a combination of written material, video presentations and an online quiz.
Additionally, there are 4 required projects in the program. Three of the projects are short (approximately one page) essays. Also one project requires submitting videos of your work training a dog two different service dog tasks. One of the essay projects requires a short visit to a location such as a nursing home, medical supply store, or rehabilitation facility, and another requires a short visit to a local shopping mall or other similar location.
We want students to learn, feel challenged, but also know help is there if needed. Students are welcome to submit projects in advance of the due date if they have questions, would like extra feedback, or the opportunity to make changes and resubmit. Students can also retake the quizzes if needed.
You will need to be comfortable using a computer, the web and email. You will need access to a reliable internet connection. Each lesson involves a combination of written material, video and an online quiz.
The SDC Course is on a very user friendly online Learning Management System. Students receive an email prompt to set up a password and sign into the course. It literally takes less than a minute.
You can take the course on a laptop, smart phone or pad. You will need to be able to take video of yourself training a dog and submit it (email, Google Drive, YouTube, Facebook Messenger, Dropbox are all options) as well as submit short essays (email). We have worked with many students who do not consider themselves technically savvy. If you are unsure, please contact us and let us know your concerns.
Yes, your dog does not need to be suited for service work for you to take the course. There is one project in the course that requires you to submit video of yourself training a dog two different behaviors that are commonly needed in service dog work. All of the training can occur in the comfort of your own home. You will submit video of the training process for feedback.
You will need:
- A dog that is an appropriate age to train. A geriatric dog or a very young puppy would not be appropriate.
- A dog that is relatively “easy to train” is best for this project. Dogs who are not food motivated or who do not enjoy training are not appropriate.
- You will just be training the dog two different behaviors in a controlled setting (like your home) – you will not be training this particular dog to work as a service dog. The dog you work with in the course does not need to have the behavioral characteristics needed to work in places pets are not allowed.
- If you choose to work with a friend’s or client’s dog, be aware that you need to have very frequent (ideally daily) access to the dog to complete this project. Once or twice a week will not be sufficient.
- You do not have to use the same dog for both behaviors unless you want to.
- There is no specific breed requirement. SDC students have worked with golden retrievers, labradors, pit bulls, border collies, Havanese, hounds, samoyeds, doodles and many mixed bred dogs to complete the program.
We are happy to set up a payment plan. We can split the cost of the course into monthly payments. When students log into the course, they have access to the entire course right away (and all materials). For this reason, full payment is required before beginning the course. If you are interested in setting up a payment plan, please note this in your application when you submit it.
Yes! Many of our graduates work for both for-profits and non-profits. One of the advantages of our certification is the flexibility.
The Cooperative Paws SDC® curriculum covers everything from temperament assessment, information on disabilities, task training, public access and much more, which applies to all service dog training. Additionally, there is content in the course that is specifically designed for trainers who work for non-profit programs. The course instructor, Veronica, has a wide range of experience in the service dog industry including experience working for and consulting with non-profit service dog training programs.
There is a large and growing demand for service dog training support and a shortage of positive pet dog trainers with the knowledge and skills to offer this specialty. Service dog training takes typically more than 2 years of regularly scheduled training appointments. A wide range of services can be incorporated to train a service dog: from private lessons to group classes, board and train and day training. Service dog training clients are often very committed to their goals. It is a wonderful opportunity to work with committed, long-term clients and change lives!
Being skilled in training service dogs helps grow your pet dog training business too! Seniors, people with chronic illnesses or people who have a family member with a disability are drawn to trainers who can demonstrate experience training service dogs. Expertise in service dog training also brings in owners who want their puppy or dog to be “as well behaved as a service dog.”
We have a course we created just for people entering the field! Service Dog Fundamentals is designed for career changers and beginning dog trainers. Cooperative Paws Service Dog Coach™ is designed for experienced trainers who meet our prerequisites.
Certifications and courses as well as experience can be used towards meeting Cooperative Paws Service Dog Coach™ admission requirements. We encourage people getting started in professional dog training to look for high quality foundation educational programs that provide a combination of a solid understanding of learning theory, science-based training methods as well as hands-on, supervised experience under a qualified mentor trainer. Learn more about one of the excellent pet dog training foundation programs we recommend below:
Do you have a question about the SDC program not listed here? Contact us!