Preparing Your Home for a Service Dog (in-training)

Accepting a service dog (SD) or a service dog-in-training (SDIT) into your home is a big decision.  There is much work that goes into making this a success, and this month we share some tips on setting yourself and your home up for success.  In order for you to ensure that your SD/SDIT will understand and follow the rules at home and in the community, it is imperative that any other dogs in the home be held accountable to the same rules inside the home as the SD/SDIT.

We begin by reminding our readers that a service dog is a willing partner, and works because they want to- not because they have to.  The most important things that any handler can give to their SD or SDIT are love, safety and discipline.  Remember that discipline is not punishment, and merely refers to the practice of setting healthy boundaries and using positive reinforcement to ensure that the boundaries are respected.

1.  Ensure that the behavior of any other dogs in the home is acceptable prior to introducing a new dog.  If other dogs in the home are permitted to jump on or chew up furniture or other items, chances are that your SD or SDIT will pick up on this fast and develop similar behaviors.  The same may be said for behavior at meal times.  If other dogs are permitted to beg food at the table, your SD or SDIT will learn to do the same.  These behaviors will serve to undermine training efforts.

2.  Set an exercise routine and stick to it.  Exercise is important for a dog, and there is much to be said for a daily exercise routine.  For an energetic young dog, exercise will allow them to work off some excess energy and help them to better focus on training tasks.  Daily walks are an excellent way to accomplish this for individuals who lack a suitable yard.

3.  Teach your dog(s) to walk on a leash without pulling.  If you plan to take your new SD or SDIT on these walks, it is necessary for all dogs to understand and follow the same set of rules.  Pulling is dangerous, and a SD that pulls can easily knock over an individual with disabilities, leading to potentially serious injuries.

4.  Set aside some bonding time for your dog each day.  Dogs give and accept love freely, and nothing will please them more than to spend time each day with you.

A search of the internet turned up a piece on the 10 Commandments for Dogs, and we felt it prudent to share this with you.  The author is unknown , but we wanted to share it with you on this occasion, so grab a tissue and read on:

The 10 Canine Commandments


Classroom News


At 5 months of age and 32 lbs, Liesel will be a big strong dog when fully grown.

This is a big month for us all, and one that we have looked forward to with great anticipation.  Our current AAEC-Estrella Mountain (EM) students have all been promoted to year two, and this month we are delighted to welcome a brand new class of students on the AAEC-Paradise Valley (PV) campus.  Many thanks to a generous $15,000 grant from For Those Without a Voice (FTWAV) we were able to outfit both classrooms with state of the art training equipment.  In addition, these monies will purchase uniforms for the students and necessary items for our dogs.

EM Campus News:  Students headed back to school from the summer break, and have started the second year of the program strong.  With new teachers on campus, they are benefiting from learning new training strategies and philosophies.  All teams now have received their public access privileges, and are out and about on a regular basis.  With the basic obedience training behind them, they now turn to advanced service dog tasks.  This month the students are working with the dogs on retrieval of dropped objects, and object recognition.  The dogs are expected not only to retrieve, but to retrieve specific objects on request (phone, keys, etc.).


Bottom L to R: Tabitha Richardson, Mya Griffith, Sydnee York, Jaymie Cardin
Middle L to R: Samantha Gordon, Holly Hudspeth, Madison Keane, Nate Dunham (teacher)
Top L to R: Brennah Gordy, Laura Sullivan, Amaris Gorman

PV Campus News: The new class has started, and once again we have been blessed with an extraordinary group of students.  For the next three months the students will participate in an Orientation training program.  During this time they will learn about service dogs and laws, public access issues, canine safety, and the basics of grooming and nutrition.  Students will also learn some basic anatomy and physiology and canine behavior.  Those students who successfully complete this phase of training will qualify to receive a service dog in training (SDIT).

A special thank you to the parents of our students

We want to take this opportunity to make a special mention of the contribution of the parents to our youth-based program.  Parents who enroll their sons / daughters in our program do agree to take in another child into their home…a four-legged one.  They incur the expense of food, often take walks with their children and dogs, go out in public together with the teams and are there every step of the way to nurture and support our teams.  Without this level of commitment, this program would not succeed.  The parents, and indeed the entire families of our students, are all partners in this program and deserve tremendous credit for each success along the way.  We have been blessed with the involvement of strong and supportive parents and families.


Our congratulations to SD recipient Sue Sisely MD on her recent nomination to receive the Athena Award.  This award honors local Arizona businesswomen for their excellence in business and leadership, exemplary community service and their support and mentorship of other women.  Dr. Sisely exemplifies the sort of person the FSDS rewards, and we are proud to be able to give back by providing her with a service dog.  We are also privileged to have Dr. Sisely involved in our program as a mentor and positive role model for our teens.

 Thank you to St. Mary’s Food Bank in Surprise, AZ

A warm thank you to the wonderful volunteers at the St. Mary’s Food Bank in Surprise, Arizona.  Recently, our youngest recipient, age 16, began to volunteer there in order to complete her required hours through our Pawsitive Community Program.  Upon completion of her 250 hours, she inquired about others who may need assistance, and offered to work some hours to assist another recipient who may not be able to complete all hours due to the nature of his/her disability.  Upon learning that there was a local woman in need, this wonderful young lady returned to St. Mary’s Food Bank to work the hours, and began to tell others there about another Arizonan in need.  This past week the FSDS received a stack of time sheets from a combination of 14 individuals (including the 16 year old and her family).  Added up, these kind-hearted volunteers have completed all 250 hours to assist a stranger, whose name they do not even know.  Acts such as this exemplify the spirit of this program and deserve special mention.  Four paws up to the good folks at the St. Mary’s Food Bank for their efforts to reach out and help others.


Paw care is important for all working dogs, and is sometimes neglected.  We recommend working booties for service dogs at all times.  Your dog must be able to walk in order to work, and it is up to the handler to provide protection against extremes of hot or cold, thorns or cactus needles, or sharp objects and shards of glass in parking lots.  As a general rule of thumb, if you would not walk barefoot in any situation, neither should your dog.  Check the bottom of your dog’s paws regularly.  If they are cracked and dry, you can apply paw balm to prevent further cracking and reduce the risk of infection.

Volunteer Service Opportunities

We are currently looking for a graphic artist to design a new brochure for our Pawsitive Community Program.  If you are interested, please contact us.

Upcoming Events

Sept. 17th: Medical teleconference, in cooperation with the University of Arizona College of Medicine

Oct. 1st: Arizona Dept. of Education Transition Conference- presentation on successful transitioning of students with service dogs.

Oct. 3rd: Asian American Hotel Owners Conference- presentation on service dogs in hotels

April 19th, 2014: Amazing Pet Expo- University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, student trainers will be on hand to provide community education on service dogs, and hands-on canine  first aid and CPR demonstrations.

May 17th, 2014: Service Dog Graduation for Estrella Mountain Class, to be held at the Glendale Civic Center.