Assessing Dogs for a Service Dog Career

Presenter: Jeanne Hampl R.N.

As the Executive Director of the Prison Pet Partnership Program, 1994-1998, Jeanne selected and supervised the training of service dog candidates by prison inmates, placing the successful dogs with disabled applicants. She also shared her nonprofit program’s pioneering work in identifying and training seizure alert dogs through Assistance Dogs International (ADI) conference workshops and through the media. From 1999 – 2013, as the founder and current President of the Assistance Dog Club of Puget Sound, Jeanne has helped many disabled persons to find and train suitable candidates to become their assistance dog, holding weekly training classes for that purpose. She is a longtime member of the National Association of Dog Obedience Instructors (NADOI).

WHO Can Benefit from this Workshop?

The demand for highly trained service dogs from reputable nonprofit programs in North America continues to far exceed the supply available to the disabled community each year. This leaves thousands of persons with a wide range of disabling conditions other than deafness or blindness who must look into other options in the attempt to make their dream of a service dog come true. The same holds true for the disabled population in some other countries where a shortage of funding, service dog trainers and /or suitable dogs limit how many dogs can be trained and placed each year and given follow up support by existing assistance dog training programs.

IAADP believes everyone dedicated to fostering high behavioral and training standards for guide, hearing and service dogs and the responsible use of legal access rights is a stakeholder in the success of such individuals. We would like to increase their chances of achieving a successful outcome. This workshop is the latest addition to our educational outreach efforts.

Over the years IAADP has received a number of bitter consumer complaints from disabled persons and their families about a trainer or program that took advantage of their inexperience and desperation. Some have been referred to IAADP by a guide dog school or a hearing dog or service dog program belonging to Assistance Dogs International (ADI) which was initially contacted by these consumers looking for training help to try to fix their dog’s problems due the huge emotional and /or financial investment they have in that dog.

So one of IAADP’s goals in holding this workshop is to educate disabled veterans, the parents of disabled children and many others seeking a service dog to try to help them become more savvy consumers and to be better able to recognize if a dog offered to them is suitable [or NOT] for this career and the particulars of their own situation.

Another important goal is to give a helping hand to those who may be considering the idea of owner-training a service dog for themselves or a disabled loved one. What factors should you consider before acquiring a puppy or an adult dog from a shelter, rescue, breeder or trainer? What tests can be useful in assessing a dog’s potential? If you already own a dog, how can you tell if this dog has the right traits needed for this challenging career?

In keeping with IAADP’s tradition of fostering the sharing of “how to” information between assistance dog partners and providers, this workshop also offers an opportunity to acquaint service dog trainers and nonprofit providers with some evaluation techniques that could be a valuable addition to their own assessment protocol.

Jean Hampl let us know she has set up an Email List for those who would like to have the opportunity for a Question & Answer discussion after her workshop. So if you would like to have further information on this topic and /or an opportunity to share your own insights on assessing dogs for a service dog career to help fairly new providers, trainers and those considering the owner-trainer option, she will provide Sign up information to you at the end of her presentation.

If you have any questions, you are welcome to contact us: IAADP, info@iaadp.org