Indianapolis, INDIANA – September 6, 2019 – Medical Mutts, a non-profit service dog organization opens their program to dog owners and teaches them how to train their own service dog. Their group classes are starting soon.

Wait time for a fully trained service dog is 2-5 years with most organizations. That’s a long time when you need help managing your disability. Not to mention the cost that can often range between $15-25,000. An Indianapolis based service dog training organization offers an alternative for those who are willing to roll up their sleeves and learn how to train their own service dog. Twice a year, in March and September, Medical Mutts starts a new series of group classes for qualified dogs and their owners.

“Service dog training is a specialty”, explains Melissa Morris, director of training at Medical Mutts. Most pet dog trainers don’t have the experience training service dogs. “There are industry standards to meet and public access laws to understand and adhere to”. Many behaviors that are trained for obedience have to be altered for service dogs. A dog that automatically sits when you stop, for instance, can be problematic if you need the dog to assist with your balance. You might be pulled down as you grip down on the handle. In a crowd, that dog’s tail is also likely to be stepped on and the dog will be less of a stepping hazard when standing. “Unless you work with service dogs, there are many aspects of training that you simply would not be aware of.”

With more fake service dogs making the news, along with increased demand for “real” service dogs, Medical Mutts has developed an alternative option to the traditional route. “This is how we can help owners get a service dog faster and at a lower cost, while making sure that their dog meets all the required standards of any professionally trained service dog”, explains Jennifer Cattet Ph.D., Manager of Medical Mutts. Our service dogs learn at least 30 different commands, and in our classes, owners follow the same protocol with their dogs. The dogs learn how to be well behaved in public, pass the Canine Good Citizens Test along with the necessary skills to help their disabled person. The Owners learn how to better manage and understand their dog, deal with the public when taking their dog out, and follow the guidelines established by the service dog industry. Success is in the team and both dog and person develop their skills as they move through the different levels of their training program.

Service dog training is not easy and is not for everyone. The dog must be assessed before joining the class and must have the qualities to become a service dog. The owner must also commit to this program and be willing to put in the effort that it will take to train her own dog. It takes time, patience and lots and lots of repetitions to make a pet dog into a service dog. For those who take on the journey, it can be a very rewarding and life changing experience. “We couldn’t afford to get a fully trained dog. But Medical Mutts has an amazing program where they teach you how to assist with part of the work of training and it saved us thousands of dollars!” Explains Chet C., father of a young woman with Postural Orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS).  “We drove 2-1/2 hours each way for this training for about 40 weeks. It was entirely worth it. I cannot say enough good things about Medical Mutts. They changed my daughter’s life by helping us have a well-trained service dog for her. And we feel like they trained us well to help her dog Ayla to be the best she can be.”

Private sessions with a trainer are year-round, but group classes are only twice a year. They’re next classes will be starting in a few weeks.

For details and information about Medical Mutts Service Dog training program, visit https://www.medicalmutts.org/training-your-dog

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