Willing Partners Canine Education, Inc.
Willing Partners Canine Education, Inc.
Willing Partners meets the need for Service Dogs through an exclusive training program designed to allow the participant to be involved in the process from day one. "I feel it is important to allow that involvement and use it as a healing tool. Our program works closely with the Veteran's Administration counselors to develop specific programs for the individual veteran."
The training program is designed to get those with disabilities up and out of the house. "We force the student to enter into the public because they have to walk the dog and take training to a wide range of places. When people see someone out working with a dog they will generally stop and talk, ask about what they are doing. This causes interaction between the person training the dog and other people."
The Willing Partners program is also designed to meet the needs of the dog too. "We train from the dog's perspective. This results in huge changes in the dog and quick results for the person doing the training." It is that change in the dog that will provide a much needed boost of accomplishment for the disabled person. "They are able to take a dog that doesn't know anything and have that dog walking on a leash within a week. The positive aspect of this accomplishment will just increase as the training progresses."
Each person paired with a service dog candidate go through an evaluation process that helps Willing Partners meet their individual needs. "I may need my own dog to do certain things, but another person may not need help in those areas. We go through a wide range of activities they do and we are able to fine tune the dogs training that way." While the individual needs are highlighted, all the dogs undergo the obedience and public access training. "The obedience a service dog must have is different from the type you would see in an obedience competition ring. All of our obedience is done under heavy distraction. Our dogs have to be able to walk by a field of little kids playing ball and still keep his eyes on the human."
In order to graduate the team must undergo no less than 120 hours of obedience, 120 hours of public access and 120 hours of task training. "Those are high standards. They are high because I want to make sure that no matter what that team does, no matter where they go, they will be well qualified. We do not do good, we do best training."
Willing Partners is also the only Service Dog and Therapy Dog Program to be accepted by an accredited Community College in Illinois through John A. Logan College.
Persons applying for the service dog training program may use their own dogs only after they have undergone and passed temperament and socialization exercises. We do not limit the breed of dog or size of dog that a person may use as a service dog; however, the dog must be able to do the job it will be trained for. For instance, a small dog could not be of help for mobility work because of its size but would make a fine Post Traumatic Stress Disorder service dog.
Each dog is required to pass a multi-level series of obedience, public access and task training. Our obedience is done under heavy distractions by other dogs, loud noises and people. Our Public Access training class is unique in that we take those qualified teams out into public venues: malls, restaurants, stores, sporting events and parades to name just a few. Students learn how to navigate these high traffic, high stress environments in such a way that the dog is safe and able to focus on their person. Dogs will receive "custom training" that matches up the needs of the handler to their specific disability. A mobility service dog may be taught to help a person out of bed of to walk. A PTSD service dog may be taught to alert to movement behind the handler, to nudge the handler awake or to get help.
Mission of Willing Partners
Providing Service Dog Training