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As each of our dogs is unique, each one’s path from puppy through Service Dog in Training (SDiT) to Service Dog is their own, but follows VMF’s training and development framework to ensure their transformation from a cute, adorable and sometimes, clumsy puppy to a focused, highly skilled and mature service dog.

8 weeks:
  • Puppy acquired from a vetted and knowledgeable breeder
  • Puppy transferred to the care of his designated Puppy Raiser
  • Puppy Raiser provided the necessary equipment and supplies for puppy’s care
2–6 months:
  • Puppy Raiser and puppy attend weekly (Wednesday) and tri-monthly (1st, 3rd, 5th Sunday of each month) VMF training sessions to learn/reinforce socialization and basic obedience skills and manners
  • At six months of age the puppy is expected to have mastered basic foundation skills, and to take and pass the American Kennel Club (AKC) Canine Good Citizen® examination
  • Upon achieving AKC CGC®, puppy receives official VMF In Training jacket.
6–12 months:
  • Puppy attends weekly (Wednesday) VMF training sessions (puppy is delivered to VMF’s Canine Training Center for training, and picked up at conclusion of training) for the duration of raising period
  • Puppy Raiser and puppy attend tri-monthly (1st, 3rd, 5th Sunday of each month) VMF training sessions for duration of raising period
  • Puppy Raiser continues and expands training on basic dog obedience skills, with guidance from Canine Training Team
12–15 months:
  • At one year of age, Puppy Raiser and SDiT are expected to earn certification as a therapy dog from one of the nationally recognized organizations that evaluate and register therapy dog teams
  • SDiT evaluation and assessment by third party, professional dog-training organization
15–18 months:
  • SDiTs certified as Therapy Dogs participate in regularly scheduled therapy sessions at facilities treating veterans
  • SDiT’s begin to meet veterans, who have applied for and been approved to receive a VMF service dog
  • Upon successful Veteran-SDiT matching, SDiT begins advanced training tailored to specific needs of the veteran
  • SDiTs attend private and group SDiT training provided in multiple settings
18+ months:
  • Veteran and SDiT undergo private, on-site VMF-supervised training during a five to six day period
  • Veteran and their new Service Dog depart for veteran’s home as a trained and confident team
Throughout Entire Raising Period
  • Puppy Raiser provides daily instruction to, and monitoring of, SDiT on the basics of being mannerly and attentive to humans
  • Puppy Raiser and SDiT go on socialization outings three to five times a week to enable SDiT to become confident, relaxed, and well-mannered in all settings
  • Puppy Raiser and SDiT participate in VMF-sponsored events
  • SDiT has quarterly sits of at least one week in duration with a different puppy raiser or sitter
  • Puppy Raiser and SDiT attend tri-monthly (1st, 3rd and 5th Sunday) VMF training sessions



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