Service Dogs of Distinction was founded in 2015 by two dog trainers who wanted to use their passion for service dogs to make a difference in the lives of veterans suffering from PTSD. Nearly 20% of all veterans suffer from PTSD, and there is an estimated shortage of over 200,000 service dogs.
Service Dogs of Distinction recognized that some service dog providers were taking advantage by charging veterans enormous sums of money for inadequately trained dogs. In contrast, Service Dogs of Distinction provides all services at no cost to qualifying veterans.
Service Dogs of Distinction utilizes dogs from shelters and from individuals who are looking to rehome young dogs with the desired demeanor and characteristics. Their goal is to understand the unique needs of each veteran and to find and train a dog that will best meet his/her needs.
Dogs-in-training live with a professional trainer as a family member and part of an existing pack. The dogs are never isolated or disconnected from the social structure of the household. Before dogs are paired with a new client, the trainer spends a few months teaching the dogs important lessons about boundaries and socialization.
When dogs-in-training are introduced to new veteran clients, this is where the magic happens! The Service Dogs of Distinction team likes to say they “let the dog do the picking!” Once a pair is matched, they complete 12-15 months of weekly training together. In essence, the veteran is trained to train the dog because this approach creates a solid service team that will continue to do well together, even after graduation.
During training, they will pass the Canine Good Citizen Test and the Public Access Test. The remainder of their training consists of exposure to many different public scenarios and honing the three specific behaviors the dog will need to mediate his veteran’s disability.
Service Dogs of Distinction serves the areas of Arkansas, southern Missouri, and eastern Oklahoma. They are a hands-on organization that stays focused on their clients’ needs. In addition to serving veterans, Service Dogs of Distinction offers reasonably priced training services to civilians who need a well-trained dog or service animal.
The cost of training a service dog is approximately $20,000. 4Knines is proud to shine a light on the work of Service Dogs of Distinction, and we hope you will consider joining us in supporting their work by making a tax deductible donation.