Frequently Asked Questions
When did you start Pawsitivity? What disabilities do you train for?
Pawsitivity was founded in 2012. We train service dogs for U.S. military veterans with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), missing limbs, no or low vision, deafness, seizures, and more. We also train service dogs to help children of veterans.
How much does it cost to raise and train a service dog?
$25,000 is the cost to raise and train a PTSD service dog for a veteran. This cost was determined by Congress in a 3-year study which proved that PTSD service dogs transform the lives of veterans and reduce suicide ideation.
Where do you get your dogs?
Pawsitivity works with rescues, shelters, and breeders across the United States to find dogs that would be good candidates for service dog training. The dogs are tested to see if they are friendly, obedient, and able to handle different situations. The dogs must be able to walk nicely on a leash without pulling, ignore other dogs that are barking and lunging at them, and play fetch with a stranger. They must also be able to handle being startled by loud noises, such as pots and pans being banged together. The breeds of dogs that tend to work best as service dogs are labs and golden retrievers, but we have worked with many different breeds.
The training process is demanding, but it is also incredibly rewarding. Pawsitivity has seen firsthand the difference that a service dog can make in the life of veterans. Service dogs can provide companionship, support, and independence as well as help veterans with disabilities to live more active and fulfilling lives.
We believe that every dog has a purpose, and we are committed to finding the perfect dog for every veteran. We are grateful for your support in helping us make a difference in the lives of veterans and their families.
How do you train the dogs?
Pawsitivity Service Dogs for Veterans has a four-stage training program for rescue dogs. Each stage is critical to the development of a well-behaved and obedient service dog.
- Stage 1: Medical Exam and Assessment: The first stage of training begins with a thorough medical exam by a veterinarian. This exam ensures that the dog is healthy and free of any conditions that could interfere with training. The veterinarian will also assess the dog's temperament and personality to determine if they are a good fit for the service dog program.
- Stage 2: Basic Obedience Training: The second stage of training focuses on basic obedience commands such as sit, stay, come, and down. The dog is also taught to walk nicely on a leash and to ignore distractions. This stage of training is essential for ensuring that the dog is well-behaved and under control in all situations. Our training methods are based on positive reinforcement, which is the same method used by the U.S. Army working dog program and Guide Dogs for the Blind.
- Stage 3: Public Access Training: The third stage of training focuses on public access skills. This includes teaching the dog how to behave in different environments such as grocery stores, malls, and public transportation. The dog is also taught how to deal with different types of people and animals. This stage of training is essential for ensuring that the dog is able to function safely and independently in public.
- Stage 4: Placement: The fourth and final stage of training involves placing the dog with a person who needs a service dog. The dog is then trained to perform specific tasks that will help the veteran with their disability. This stage of training is essential for ensuring that the dog is able to provide the veteran with the level of support they need.
- After Graduation: After graduation, Pawsitivity provides lifetime support for the service dog team. This includes providing training updates, resources, and support groups. Pawsitivity Service Dogs for Veterans is committed to ensuring that every veteran who receives a service dog from their program has the tools and support they need to live a full and independent life.
How long is the process?
Pawsitivity trains service dogs for up to two years, six months of which is spent directly with the handler. This is a crucial part of the process, as it allows the handler to learn how to take care of their dog and keep them in good health. The handler also learns how to train the dog to do specific tasks that will help them with their disability. This can be a life-changing experience for both the veteran and the dog, as they become a team that can rely on each other for support.
The training process is rigorous, but it is worth it for the life-changing benefits that it provides to both the veteran and the dog.
If the veteran can’t keep the dog for some reason, will you take the dog back?
If a veteran can no longer care for their dog, we will do everything in our power to receive the dog back and find it a loving home. We will not leave a loyal companion behind.
What do you do if the dog fails out?
Not every dog is cut out to be a service dog. But that doesn't mean they don't have a purpose. For those dogs who don't make the cut, we offer a second chance at a career as a therapy dog or a loving family pet. We call these dogs 'Career Change Dogs', and they are just as important as the dogs who go on to become service dogs. They provide comfort and companionship to those in need, and they deserve a second chance at happiness.
What makes Pawsitivity Service Dogs for Veterans special?
Pawsitivity is not your average service dog organization. We work with veterans who are often in very complicated circumstances. We work with veterans who have a multiple disabilities, including PTSD, traumatic brain injuries, and physical disabilities. We understand that they may have physical, emotional, and financial challenges and require a very individualized solution (there are no fees for the veteran). We also work with veterans who have children with autism and other disabilities. We understand that these cases can be very complicated, and we believe that every veteran deserves the chance to have a service dog that can help them live a better life.
We believe that every veteran deserves a chance to live a happy and fulfilling life, and we are committed to helping them achieve that goal. We are dedicated to providing service dogs to those who need them most, and your donation will make a real difference in the world.