IDEA Service Dogs Is Different

We place a puppy directly into the home of the disabled person and the dog is trained by the disabled student in a unique one to two year program.

Other Schools Use A Guide Dog School Model

Most assistance dog programs utilize the guide dog school model of training.  A puppy lives in a foster home with a volunteer for 12-18 months, then transfers to a kennel setting for an additional 6-9 months of training with a handler who is simultaneously responsible for multiple dogs.  When the dog’s final recipient is selected, the student receives a brief introduction and training period and takes the dog home.

Many dogs do not thrive in a kennel environment or with multiple handlers and thus a low success rate is often experienced.  That is why long wait lists usually exist for dogs from these programs.


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IDEA Service Dogs Is Different

Instead, IDEA Service Dogs places a temperament-tested puppy directly into the home of the disabled person.  The dog is trained by the disabled student (and often a family member such as a spouse or parent as well) in a unique one to two year program, utilizing positive and rewarding techniques for both dog and trainer(s).  There is no “hand-off” of the dog through multiple handlers, and the bonding process is nurtured from the early stages of the puppy’s life.

  • You Don’t Have to Intimidate A Dog to Teach It
  • Your Service Dog Will Be Your Partner For Life
  • You Can Train Your Future Service Dog Should You Need One
  • You Can Train a Service Dog for your parent, spouse or child

Puppy Selection Assistance

IDEA Service Dogs will assist in selecting the most appropriate puppy for the disabled person’s needs by administering a multi-dimensional, well-researched temperament test.  The breed of an individual dog is not as important as indications of behavior traits such as social attraction to people, confidence, willingness to follow a person, and other critical areas.

Consideration is also given to your specific needs and living arrangements in regards to the breed and size of dog selected.  In some cases, a student may enter our program with a young dog that they already own.  ISD must temperament test these canine candidates as well and they must pass criteria similar to that of the puppies we select.

We train you and your dog at the same time

Under experienced and professional guidance, the student will learn positive training methods in a two-year program.  The coursework covers all facets of raising a confident and independent dog that will become your constant companion from the moment you bring your puppy home.

The training is presented in modules which include early puppy issues such as house-training and socialization, multiple approaches to behavior modification, health, nutrition, problem-solving and additional techniques necessary to allow the Team to master the special skills needed to assist the student with activities of daily living.

Advantages of Training your own service dog

Challenges with your dog can be quickly addressed under our expert supervision.  Our experienced instructors, who are board members and also volunteers, will be guiding you through classroom sessions, hands-on exercises and “field trips” to places such as grocery stores, museums, and restaurants throughout the DFW Metroplex.

You will be a dog trainer for the rest of your life.  Our program gives you the skills to keep your new service dog proficient at the tasks that you need.  After all, your service dog will be your partner for life.

Other advantages of the IDEA Service Dogs program are that you have been taught the skills to train your future service dog should you need one.

You may also use this education to train a service dog for your parent, spouse or child.

You Don’t Have to Intimidate A Dog to Teach It

Until perhaps twenty years ago, most dog training was approached in a negative way from the dog’s perspective.  The techniques involved discipline, dominance, punishment and coercion.  Some current trainers still subscribe to showing the dog ”who is boss” by rolling it over on it’s back and straddling it’s chest in with an “alpha roll”, or pulling on a choke chain, spraying it in the face with a chemical or strong-arming the dog in general.

ISD believes there is a better, more positive approach to train a service dog.  An assistance dog needs to be motivated by and bonded with his disabled partner.  Trust will form the strongest bond.  Positive training techniques will be the cornerstone for this trust.

Certification Process

To graduate from IDEA Service Dogs unique program, you and your dog will be required to pass the American Kennel Club’s Canine Good Citizen® (CGC) Program when your dog is approximately 12 months of age, and Assistance Dogs International, Inc., Public Access Test in the second year of classes to become fully certified.

You will also select three or more “Special Skills” for your dog to master and demonstrate in the final phases of your certification process.  These skills included, but are not limited to:

  • Retrieving a dropped object such as car keys or medication
  • Location and returning with another person for your assistance
  • Opening and closing doors or cabinets
  • Bracing while transferring between mobility devices
  • Turning on and off light switches
  • Providing physical contact to reduce panic


As opposed to purchase of an assistance dog for $20,000 or more, our non-profit organization charges very modest fees.

Start-up Fee:

A one-time start-up fee of $ 300 is assessed to help cover the cost of initial temperament testing of puppies or dogs, both proprietary and published training materials and selected initial equipment.

Monthly fees:

A small monthly fee of $ 50 is also assessed.

Students are responsible for the purchase of their puppy, although donated puppies or puppies at reduced costs are sometimes available.  Students must qualify for this special assistance.