Hi, I’d like to introduce ourselves to you. Carol and Don Volleberg, from Rocwind Canine Center. We are a 22 year old business in Aurora, CO. We are a full service dog facility; we offer dog daycare, boarding and all types of training. We do Service Dog and Therapy Dog training as well. We have been involved in service dog training on a small scale basis for over 20 years; we trained our first PTSD service dog even before we started the Daycare/Boarding facility.
We have noticed an alarming trend in service dog training. The cost. We have spoken to several people lately that have been quoted prices in excess of $50,000.00 to train a service dog. We have also seen stories on people with their service dogs and hear how much it cost to train their dog, and we feel the prices are out of line to say the least. Most people that need a service dog don’t have large sums of money. It is especially unfair to our Veterans. Often, they return home with physical and mental injuries and have a very difficult time reintegrating back in to society. To charge these people an obscene amount of money is very unfair. Even if the cost is carried by a nonprofit, the cost should still not be sky high. In our opinion these overpriced trainers are gouging these people. There is a need for qualified, experienced, knowledgeable trainers, but that doesn’t mean they should be funding a lavish life style off the people that need a service dog. We wanted to let people know there are trainers out there that love what they do and just want to earn a living doing what they love.
Our service dog training starts with a Basic Obedience course. Our 6 week long courses are $165.00, for Military they are $155.00 with unlimited free repeats. People may take the course as many times as they would like to, until they are happy with their dogs level of training or socialization.
Once the basics are learned the task specific skills get taught and public access training begins. If a dog is particularly well behaved, the public access training can be done simultaneously with the basic training. Our one on one training for service dogs is 55.00 per hour. Number of hours necessary to complete training varies from dog to dog, and depends on the tasks and specific behaviors needed.
At our facility we have all the components for service dog training such as a bedroom, living room, dining room, ADA restroom, desks, wheelchair, walker, crutches, shopping cart, kitchen, vacuum, etc. Even scaffolding, snow blower, leaf blower, and a lawnmower. A service dog will have to calmly face a variety of situations, and we find it easier for the dog to learn to be confident around all these things in our controlled environment, before facing them out in public. If a dog requires board and train they will spend time here at the shop as well as time in our home.
We have a motorhome that we use to do public access training. We can take multiple dogs out for training at one time. While one dog is in the store training, the other dogs are comfortable and safe in their crates in the motorhome. This allows us to use our time very efficiently, reducing hours and there for, reducing cost. We have experience in coming up with adaptations that can make our clients lives easier, and understand the emotional issues that our clients may face. We provide a positive, empowering atmosphere, while making the training process fun for both dog and human.
The difference between service dogs and emotional support dogs.
There is a significant difference between service dogs and emotional support dogs, they are NOT one and the same. An ESD provides comfort and companionship to their owner just by virtue of being there. They give a person a reason to get up and face their day. Having a dog to care for gives people a purpose and enjoyment. The dogs can help them deal with stress and keep them calm. All of this is done without "doing " anything, just being there to cuddle with and talk to can be a wonderful help to people. While all of this is valuable to the individual, they are not in the same class as a service dog. Per ADA regulations, ESD are NOT allowed everywhere a service dog is. The protections offered by the ADA consist of housing and plane travel. ESD must provide a landlord or HOA with a letter from a medical professional stating the person needs an ESD. They are then allowed in complexes that ordinarily don't allow dogs, and can fly in the cabin with the owner. The service dog, particularly a psychiatric one, also deals with emotional issues, but they are trained to perform a task in certain situations. For some people with PTSD the dog is trained to walk around the owner in a small circle in order to maintain space between the owner and other people, they can sit directly behind the owner so no one can get too close from behind, they are taught to jump up on or lay on a person during a panic attack to provide deep pressure therapy. They can be taught to interrupt OCD/repetitive behavior, or self harming. They are trained to fetch a bottle of anti anxiety meds, or literally pull the owner out of a building during a panic attack. So while similar, they are NOT the same. The difference comes down to how much help the owner needs. While some people benefit from just having their dog near them, others need the dog to actively help them in certain situations. Please respect the more severely affected individuals, don't make your ESD out to be a service dog.