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The ADW Owner/Self-Training Assistance Dog course is designed to teach clients to train their own dogs to be their service dog. Training your own service dog is an in-depth process requiring discipline, but can be immensely rewarding.

ADI requirements

ADW is accredited by Assistance Dogs International (ADI), which requires that Owner/Self-Trainer teams work with ADW for a minimum of 6 months, and that the dog be trained to perform a minimum of 3 tasks to offset the owner’s disability. The total cost for the Owner/Self-Trainer Program is $4,500, which includes the $200 Dog Assessment and the $75 application fee detailed below.

I.  Initial Assessments and Evaluation 

In Stage I, clients have their dog assessed by Assistance Dogs of the West, in order to determine suitability for service dog work. The cost of the assessment is $200. Upon notification of favorable dog assessment, clients complete the Assistance Dogs of the West Owner/Self-Training program application (application fee $75). ADW may request that client have an Occupational Therapy Evaluation by Dogwood Therapy Services, an independent OT provider. After acceptance into the Owner/Self-Training program, you will be eligible to schedule training sessions with ADW trainers.

II.  Training Sessions

Training sessions take place weekly at our office in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Clients will work with an ADW trainer on Task Work and Public Access. At the conclusion of the course of training, the ADI Public Access test will be administered to the client/dog team. If public access is not achieved within the initial training process, subsequent training will be recommended.  Assistance Dogs International requires we work with Owner/Self-Trained teams for a minimum of 6 months.

Re-certification and follow up

To keep your certification and handling skills current, you will be required to pass the ADI Public Access Test for the first two years following completion of training.  Clients must also complete a monthly survey for the first year following completion of the training and annual surveys for as long as the dog is working.