Certified Service Dog Program Network is now a reality!

March is an exciting month for us all, as this is the start of the long needed and awaited birth of a credible, network of certified SD training program.  In the past, independent trainers have had no means of obtaining any recognition as a member of a service dog program network.  While most existing SD programs are run as non-profits, they tend to be centered in or around large cities, leaving a large rural population of the nation with no access to credible training programs. This has left thousands of citizens nationwide with no means to achieve legitimate team certification, and competent and dedicated private trainers feeling isolated and disconnected from the SD training community.  This network is designed to provide independent trainers with an ability to set up organized programs, understanding that group lessons are more cost effective for teams than private lessons.  It is our hope that this effort will open the door for individuals with disabilities to obtain credible training, and combat the growing problem in society of individuals purchasing fake credentials online because they lack credible options in their region.

Over the past year, the FSDS has turned to several well qualified trainers who are well established in our Evaluator Network.  This network has been in operation since 2008.  Together we have compiled a comprehensive set of program policies that will strengthen programs and services, and provide small businesses with the support needed to operate a credible service dog training program.  There is a world of difference between the notion of providing private lessons, and operating a full service program.  We wish to thank the following individuals for lending their expertise to this process:

  • Toni Hyland, PhD, Salinas California
  • Tom Tackett of Tackett Service Dogs, California
  • Nikki Esser, owner of OC Service Dogs and Healthy Mutt, California
  • Gail Kulur, private trainer since 1983, New Jersey

As with any other endeavor, certification has its advantages.  Those programs that put forth the effort to meet the high standards that are upheld in the SD community will be able to enjoy the benefits of belonging to a network.  Among these benefits are:

  • free federally mandated annual OSHA training for your staff
  • access to a complete set of program standards
  • didactic training for team handlers designed to meet the needs of learning challenged individuals
  • ability to request funding to assist a client with disabilities in underwriting training once a year
  • referrals from other members in network
  • guaranteed reciprocity for your teams if they relocate
  • program to be listed on FSDS website to increase your visibility and reach
  • updates regarding any changes in SD laws and standards
  • ability to network with other trainers across the nation
  • opportunities to work your way up to a position of Regional Assessor, as positions are available
  • increased marketability, credibility and public confidence for your business

Before you proceed, you must understand that the road to becoming a credible, networked SD training program is a process, and there are costs involved.  These costs involve a combination of membership and training fees, staff time involved in outlining procedures to accompany each policies, and costs associated with submission of materials and services of the Regional Assessor.  There is a world of difference between offering private lessons for clients, and running a fully certified training program.  We remind individuals that though there are costs, please bear in mind the savings that come from being able to receive a comprehensive set of policies. The savings in the staff time that it would have taken you to construct these materials will more than offset any expenses along the way.  The single most important thing that you can do to protect and nurture your SD training program is to lay a solid foundation.


•    Application fee: $150 good for three years
•    Training fees of $224 per staff trainer for SD 101
•    Submission of materials fee: $100 (payable when your policy and procedure manuals are completed)
•    Regional Assessor fee: $400 to be paid to Assessor at the time that on-site visit is scheduled
•    Travel and lodging fees to be paid by program directly to the Regional Assessor at the time that on-site visit is

It must be understood that the exclusive purpose of this program is to certify your SD training program that operates under the umbrella of your business.  This program does not certify any other type of training that your business offers, other than SD training.

Apply Online

Classroom News

EM Campus– as this class nears the home stretch, the students are working very hard at mentoring their recipients and accomplishing the final stages of their dogs training.  Recipients have been attending classes every two weeks and are all doing well.  Training during this time is accomplished as a combination of classroom exercises and field trips.

Community-based class– this new training initiative is off to a fine start, and at this time we have 11 teams in training.  Students this past month are working on basic obedience skills and shaping behavior.   The response to this new program has been great- we now have a full house at 12 students.

New class planned for later 2016 – applications are now being accepted for the next community-based class for later this year.  Contact us to learn more.

Our Sincere Thanks To…


  • Casino Arizona for their generosity and support of our community-based training class.  Over the years Casino Arizona has been a strong supporter of our programs and services, and this year once again they have stepped up to offer their support for our new class with a very generous $10,000 donation.  Casino Arizona has long been a service dog friendly and supportive business and we look forward to our continued relationship with them.
  • Westbrook Village Veterans Support Club
  • Nancy Megaham and members of “What’s Now Ministry”
  • Barry Mackean & Teresa Ledzinski
  • Phoenix Police Department for their contribution of classroom space for our community-based class at one of their precincts.

Wellness Tip

For those in some parts of our nation the warm weather is not far away- for those in the desert southwest it has already arrived early this year.  This means that rattlesnake season has arrived and this month we provide some practical tips for safety.

  • If you reside in an area prone to rattlesnakes, remove woodpiles or other areas from your yard where snakes may hide
  • Stick to established paths when out for a walk or hiking
  • Prevent your dog from straying from your side to sniff under bushes or behind rocks where a snake may be hiding
  • Carry a cell phone with the number of poison control and/or your local veterinarian programmed in with you when out for walks

Upcoming Events

Join us for these upcoming March fundraising events on Saturday March 5th & Saturday March 12th:

WHO: Armed Services Support Group Sun City West 
WHAT: 2016 Wounded Veterans Golf Event 
FSDS is one of the benefitting nonprofits of their annual golf event fundraiser
WHEN: Saturday, March 5th, 2016, 1:00 pm –  5:00 pm (not sure of end time)
WHERE:  Sun City Grande – Granite Falls Golf Club, SOUTH Golf Course
ADDRESS: 15949 West Clearview Blvd. Surprise, AZ 85374 
If you’d like to sign up as a golfer, go to: www.scgarmedforcessupportgroup.org/
Otherwise come out in support of FSDS and meet our Service Dog Teams!
WHO: Melody & Friends Hair Salon
WHAT: Cut-A-Thon, to benefit FSDS
50/50 raffle, Door prizes, Refreshments for purchase
WHEN: Saturday, March 12th, 2016, 9:00 am – 3:00 pm  
WHERE:  Melody & Friends Hair Salon
ADDRESS: 1020 W. Wickenburg Way, Ste. 2, Wickenburg, AZ 85390 
DETAILS: All haircuts are $10 and are on a walk-in basis; no appts taken
*** In addition 100% of their proceeds benefit FSDS!
  • Glendale Empowerment Expo– Saturday April 23rd 9 a.m. – noon at the Glendale Civic Center, located at 5750 W Glenn Dr., Glendale, AZ 85301
  • FSDS Graduation 2016– Saturday May 14th, 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. at the Glendale Civic Center.

Photo Gallery

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