HOUSTON 501(c)(3) PROVIDING FREE, IN-HOME SERVICE DOG TRAINING FOR VETERANS AND
SUBSIDIZED TRAINING FOR CIVILIANS
SUFFERING FROM PTSD AND OTHER DISABILITIES

DID YOU SUBMIT AN APPLICATION AND HAVE NOT HEARD FROM US?

Service Dogs

At Give Us Paws, we differentiate ourselves from other Service Dog programs by not only training the disabled handler's existing dog at their location in a 6-month program, but by teaching the handler to train their dog, themselves. If there is no existing dog, we may assist with an animal assesment prior to selection in order to determine suitability as a Service Dog. Dogs can be selected from local animal shelters, rescue groups, breeders or Service Dog puppy raisers. All potential Service Dog candidates are carefully evaluated prior to selection for the best chance at certification. The dog must reside in the home before training can begin. At the completion of training, the service dog must be able to pass the Assistance Dogs International Public Access Test and perform at least three tasks specific to the handler's disability.

Once fully trained, the dogs are able to assist disabled individuals to accomplish daily tasks that would otherwise be difficult or impossible. Each dog's training is customized to the individual needs of the disabled handler. The dogs can be trained to perform many services including, but not limited to:

  • Recognize and avert PTSD episodes
  • Provide "cover" for the handler during episodes of anxiety or depression
  • Nudge handler out of bed in the morning
  • Recognize nightmares and wake their handler
  • Pick up and retrieve items
  • Retrieve an emergency phone
  • Alert a caregiver
  • Fetch medications
  • Open and close doors
  • Pull wheelchairs
  • Provide bracing to stand, walk, and sit down
  • Help with chores, such as laundry
  • Take off shoes and socks
  • And many others...

Perhaps the most beneficial remedies are the companionship, unconditional love and devotion a dog can provide to their lifelong partners. Once a strong bond forms between the person-dog relationship, the dog's trust, devotion, and a desire to please will follow.

The cost to train a Service Dog in our program is $5,000.00, but we do everything that we can to provide training services free of charge for our disabled veterans. For civilians, if financial eligibility requrements as outlined below are met, this amount can be subsidized in part or whole according to your family's combined countable yearly income, if funds are available. Please see our eligibility and sliding scale pricing to see if you qualify for subsidized services. Give Us Paws utilizes only positive reinforcement to train its dogs.

We follow the standards set forth by Assitance Dogs International (ADI) Public Access Test and strive to work at levels above the minimums.

Service Dog Definition

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) defines service animals as "dogs that are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities." It also specifies that "organizations that serve the public must allow service animals to accompany people with disabilities in all areas of the facility where the public is normally allowed to go."

That's why it's important to differentiate Service Dogs from therapy dogs, emotional support dogs or companion animals (pets): Service dogs and their handlers are granted special access rights that don't apply to other types of animals.

Therapy dogs visit patients and residents in hospitals, assisted living facilities, nursing homes, schools, and shelters to provide solace, affection, and stress relief. Their interactions tend to be short duration. Therapy dogs have very stable temperaments to tolerate other animals and occasionally intense situations without becoming upset, nervous, or dangerous. These dogs can be extremely helpful to those they visit, but they are not the same as Service Dogs who form a long-term team with their handlers.

An Emotional Support Animal is a dog or other common domestic animal that provides theraputic support to a disabled or elderly owner through companionship, non-judgmental positive regard, affection, and a focus in life. If a doctor determines that a patient with a disabling mental illness would benefit from the companionship of an emotional support animal, the doctor write letters supporting a request by the patient to keep the ESA in "no pets" housing or to travel with the ESA in the cabin of an aircraft. ESAs are not task trained like service dogs are.

More information about Service Dogs is available from Assistance Dogs International.

FAQS

Q: WHO TRAINS THE SERVICE DOGS?

A: The primary trainers of the Service Dogs are the dog's disabled handler with the assistance and guidance of a certified dog trainer and staff. Our trainer will come to your location once a week, for 1 hour, during 24 weeks of training. The handler will be required to log 4 hours of animal/handler homework each week. At the end of the training program, the team will be required to pass the Assistance Dogs International Public Access Test and also perform at least three specific tasks on command or cue for the benefit of the disabled handler.

Q: HOW MUCH DOES IT COST TO TRAIN A DOG?

A: Training costs $3,000.00-$5,000.00, but we do everything that we can to provide training services free of charge for our disabled veterans, financial assistance is available based on need and is provided on a sliding scale.

Q WHO SHOULD APPLY FOR A SERVICE DOG TRAINING?

A: Any disabled American Veteran can apply to Give Us Paws to train their existing dog that's over 6 months and less than 6 years old. This service is also available to other Americans with disabilities. Please view our eligibility requirements. Once an application is accepted, an evaluation interview will be conducted and every attempt will be made to acquire funding for suitable candidates.

Q: HOW DOES GIVE US PAWS GET FUNDING?

A: All of the money and supplies needed for our training programs are donated through private or corporate sponsorships and gifts.

Q: HOW DO I APPLY FOR A SERVICE DOG?

A: Check eligibility requirements, go to the Service Dog Application and fill out the application form!

Q: HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO TRAIN A SERVICE DOG?

A: Give Us Paws follows a 6-month training program for training an adult Service Dog once they have completed their early socialization, but the program will vary for every dog.

Q: ARE THERE DISABILITIES FOR WHICH YOU DO NOT PROVIDE SERVICES?
A: We DO NOT provide services for the following disabilities:
  1. Visually or hearing impaired or non-verbal individuals
  2. Seizure Alert (we will train for seizure response)
  3. Bi-polar, multiple personalities or schizophrenia
  4. Autism
  5. Children under the age of sixteen years

Other disability qualifications determined on a case-by-case basis.

Q: WHAT BREEDS OF DOGS MAKE GOOD SERVICE DOGS?

A: A lot of Service Dog programs use Golden Retrievers and Labradors. They have many of the characteristics that make for a good Service Dog. However, there are examples of many other breeds that have been successfully trained as Service Dogs. The needs of the person may determine the ideal size of the dog. Small dogs may struggle to pick up and present objects in a suitable way, large dogs could be difficult to put under a table in a restaurant or out of the way on a bus or plane. A good Service Dog is not protective, is people orientated, not overly active, confident but not dominant or submissive. Service dogs should not require complex grooming as this could be a problem for their handler.

Q: ARE OTHER ANIMALS ALLOWED IN THE HOUSEHOLD DURING THE TRAINING?

A: If you have an existing dog or cat in the household other than your Service Dog, we will make determinations on a case-by-case basis as to whether the program is right for your household. Other animals can present distractions which detract from the efficiency of the training schedule. Once accepted into the Service Dog training program, we do not allow fostering or ownership of any new animals into the household until the training program is completed.