A: The average training period to become a service dog with WAGS is 2 years. At the age of 2 most of us are mature, well mannered, proficient in our skills and past the point of any unknown behavioral or physical issues that could prevent us from becoming a service dog.
While we are in training for 2 years, we typically have one trainer for a year and then a different trainer for the 2nd year. This helps us in many ways.
First, all the trainers are very different - they talk different, they have different mannerisms and they all live very different lives; some work full-time while others are retired, some live in houses while others are in apartments, some spend more time in public than others, some live alone while others have kids, some have other pets while others don't... So by switching trainers it gives us an opportunity to learn things differently and experience new situations. Additionally, it could bring out a strength or weakness in us that might not have been found by only being with one trainer.
Secondly, there is always a bit of maturing that happens to us pups when we move homes and that is a benefit to us in our learning experience.
Third, it also makes the transition of saying good-bye for the trainer and the pup a little easier to do so after 1 year versus 2 years. While most of the trainers can't help but get attached to us (can you blame them??), it would make it even more difficult to part ways after 2 years. This is actually a reason why a lot of people don't volunteer to become a trainer, but if Jesi can do it, you can do it too! It's not easy on any of us, but we all move on and learn to love the next person/pup that we're working with. Plus, the trainers get the reward of knowing how much good they are doing for someone else and Jesi says that makes it all worth it. If you have more questions about becoming a volunteer, please feel free to reach out to Jesi directly at firstname.lastname@example.org - she'd be happy to tell you all about her experience as a trainer.
Keep the questions coming and HAPPY NEW YEAR!! ~ Toula
Have a question about what it takes to be a trainer or about service dogs?
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