Customized Service and Therapy dog training, for the dog you already love.We’ll train YOUR dog to be a hero!
In our unique Service and Therapy Dog training program, we’ll work with you and your dog to transform you into a life-altering team.
Here’s How it Works:
Step 1 – Exploration Session:
The assistance dog training process can be overwhelming! Let’s demystify your road forward.
First, we’ll assess your needs and identify tasks that might be helpful. Then, we’ll review your dog’s behavior history, or discuss ways to find a dog. Finally, we’ll answer all your questions about assistance dogs.
45-60 min virtual session: $95
Step 2 – Team Evaluation:
Does your dog have what it takes to be a hero? We’ll meet in a public place in Greenville, SC to observe how your dog responds to stressors and new situations. Our goal is to determine if it is appropriate to begin training him or her for service work. (Note: Your dog does not need to be “perfect” for this evaluation.)
If your dog shows that they have what it takes, we can begin training. If not, we’ll discuss your options with you, whether that be starting with some foundational training first, training your dog as an in-home helper, or choosing a different dog.
60-90 minute real-world session: $150
Step 3 – Service/Therapy Dog Training:
Once cleared to begin final training, your pup will begin their fully customized program, which can include public access training and/or task training, depending on your needs.
The final stage of your program will include in-person time with you and the dog together to transfer the skills.
Step 4: Graduation!
As your final step toward graduation, you and your dog will complete your Public Access Certification exam, working through real-world scenarios in a public place. After this point, you’ll be a fully qualified working team. (Therapy Dogs will complete a similar challenge, appropriate to their future work.)
- A formal letter testifying to the dog’s training and public access certification
- An official training record to substantiate training history
- A personalized Service Dog flier you can share if your dog is questioned
- Access to private follow-up sessions, offered at a discounted rate
Board and Train:
Available to clients nationwide.
Your dog must be dropped off/picked up in Greenville, SC.
Your dog stays with our trainer in Greenville, as a member of the household. Board and train dogs receive several hours or approximately 3 training sessions per day, and this is the best option for adding tasks to your dog’s repertoire. We treat our board and train pups just like our own dogs – no kennel stay or hours languishing in a crate here. Assuming your dog is ready to begin final Service or Therapy Dog training, we usually need 4-8 weeks with your pup, depending on your goals.
Available to clients in Greenville, SC.
We’ll come to your home and pick up your pup for work 3 days a week, then drop them back off when we are done. This is a good option for younger dogs who aren’t ready for the final stages of full service dog training, starting puppies, foundational skills, or for dogs who only need public access certification. In most cases, we will need to work with your pup for 4-6 weeks.
Don’t have a dog yet?
We can still help. Reach out to schedule your Exploration Session, and we’ll help you make a plan.
Requirements for the Dog:
- No history of aggression
- No fearfulness or separation anxiety
- Basic good manners
- Physically healthy
- Under the age of 4
Here is What We DON’T Do:
We will not train and certify your dog simply as a way to have public access or to fly. Public Access Laws state that a dog cannot be granted public access for emotional support. We WILL train a dog to assist you with actual tasks or needs.
We use ONLY science-backed, positive, dog-friendly training techniques. That means we can absolutely promise that we will never use choke, prong, or electric shock collars, or any other form of harsh or aversive correction. We are committed to training happy dogs who love their jobs, and we don’t do that through fear.
At this time, we don’t place fully trained dogs. You will need to have a dog, or to be ready to acquire a dog.
Meet Your Trainer
Hi! I’m Desiree, certified dog behaviorist and lead trainer for our Service & Therapy Dog program. Because my background is originally in human psychology, one of the earliest ways I worked with dogs was training and handling for Animal Assisted Therapy. During the 8 years I did this work, I leveraged the amazing connections dogs can help us make to assist patients in mental health institutions, youth in juvenile lockdown facilities, and kids with learning disabilities in schools. I’ve trained Therapy Dogs to work with volunteer teams in hospitals and nursing homes, as well as full-time clinic dogs.
I have come to have a special appreciation for the way that Service Dogs can create more independence for the people who rely on them. A few years ago, I developed a neurological health condition myself. One day early into that journey, my retired working dog, Inca, was standing beside me when I passed out and fell down a flight of stairs. Starting that day, she alerted to my episodes. Inca truly became a hero to me. She helped me get my life back and learn to live with my condition. Since then, I have trained my other dog, Millie, to also alert and assist me, and am working on training a puppy to take over when Millie retires.
I can’t wait to help your dog become a hero for you, as well. Want to know more? You can read all about me and check out my formal credentials here.
What is the difference between a Therapy Dog, a Service Dog, and an Emotional Support Animal?
A Therapy Dog is a dog that has passed an access requirement test and been taught the skills necessary to volunteer in a clinical setting, such as hospitals, mental health institutions, hospices, schools, and nursing homes. Therapy Dogs offer comfort or can be trained to help with specific clinical objectives. A Therapy Dog must be comfortable in new environments, enjoy interacting with a wide range of people, be calm even in chaotic environments, and be confident with strange noises and actions. They must also be extremely comfortable with being handled. As a general rule, therapy dogs, in addition to their training, should be insured and licensed by the non-profit that’s offering their services.
Emotional Support Dogs (ESAs) may be trained to assist a specific owner, but are not trained for specific tasks or duties to aid a person with a disability, and this is the main difference between ESAs and Service Dogs. ESAs typically require a letter of diagnosis from the owner’s doctor or psychiatrist, and the Fair Housing Act mandates “reasonable accommodations” for emotional support animals even in housing buildings that don’t allow pets.
**Therapy Dogs and ESAs are not considered Service Dogs under the ADA and don’t have the same legal right to access in public spaces.** Both are allowed only in places that allow pets, with the exception of housing (ESAs) and clinical work environments (Therapy). As of January 2021, airlines are no longer required to accommodate ESAs or Therapy Dogs.
Service Dogs are defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and are individually trained to perform specific tasks to mitigate the disability of their handler. According to the ADA, disabilities can be “physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability.” The work of the service dog must be directly related to the handler’s disability. Service Dogs must pass a public access certification test and, once fully qualified and trained, have full public access rights.
Why is this so expensive?
Most service dog program-trained dogs cost $30,000 or more, and most of those programs have wait lists that can be several years long. This isn’t a realistic situation for most people. The amount we charge is a fraction of that. However, training a Service or Therapy dog requires a significant investment of time, love, labor, and skill, and our prices reflect that.
Do you offer financing?
We are happy to work with you. Include that information in your application, and we will reach out to discuss your options.
What if I don’t live in Greenville?
That’s ok! We obviously can’t offer day training if you aren’t local to us, but you can still take advantage of our board and train program. You’ll need to drop off and pick up your pup in Greenville, SC, and you’ll need to plan to stay for a few days when you pick your pup up to do your in-person sessions. We can help you make arrangements.
If you are from out of town, in most cases your dog can begin their stay with us immediately after they pass their Team Evaluation. This saves you making an additional trip.
Can you train MY dog?
As an initial step before beginning training, we will do an in-depth temperament and suitability assessment of your dog. At that point, we will be able to give you feedback about your dog’s chances of success. Not all dogs are suitable candidates for this type of work; in fact, even in Service Dog breeding programs, more than half of the puppies are generally disqualified from work before their training is complete. Having the right dog for the task you need is crucial.
If we determine that your current dog does not qualify, we can help you select another potential candidate, if you like. Or, many dogs that do not qualify to pass public access still make great at-home helpers. In the event that your dog will not work out for your original plan, we will help you sort through your options.
If your dog shows potential but needs some more basic training to be ready, we can help you with that, too.
Will my dog be certified after this training?
If you are training a Therapy Dog: You will have options. You can either opt for the same Public Access certification we do with our Service Dogs (which should qualify you for general Therapy Dog work), or, if you are wanting to join a specific Therapy Dog organization, you will need to find a tester from that organization. In your Exploration session, we can discuss this in more depth and determine the best option for you.
If you are training a Service Dog: As your graduation step after the completion of your dog’s training program, you and your dog will complete a valid Public Access Test. This test will be given in-person, after we have worked together to make sure the skills taught transfer to you. Once you pass this test, you will receive a letter of certification from Horizon Dog Training as proof that your dog has met the standards and is a fully trained Service Dog by all legal definitions of the law.
Will my dog be able to fly with me after this training?
If your Service Dog has done work in airports and is comfortable in that environment, as well as able to exercise their training there, then yes. (Depending on your training program objectives, this may or may not be part of your dog’s training plan, and some dog and handler teams may need to practice in order to be ready.) However, you will need to complete the US Department of Transportation Service Animal Transport Form.
Please note that Therapy Dogs and ESAs do not have access rights to airports or on airplanes since 2021 law changes.
Is there a guarantee that my dog will become a Service or Therapy dog?
No. Sometimes dogs just aren’t suited for the work, and that can’t always be determined ahead of time. This is why we evaluate our candidates so carefully, in order to give the greatest possible assurance that it will work. If for some reason we determine that your dog will not work out once we have begun training, we will notify you immediately and discuss options.
If your dog is not suitable for public access training, your dog still might be able to be a fantastic Home Helper (a fully trained but non-certified service dog who helps you out at home).