As autism is a spectrum disorder, each individual seeking a service dog presents a unique collection of symptoms which may change over time. Accordingly, those of us who train dogs to be paired with individuals suffering a disability on the autism spectrum are charged with accessing our dog’s personality and fostering the animal-human bond allowing the dog’s innate sensory perception to recognize the circumstances of their human partner’s needs and respond appropriately.
Some programs place puppies in the home and require the families to train the dog in all phases of its development; basic obedience, socialization and skills need to aid their child. Receiving a highly trained dog alleviates the burden on the parents. That is not to say fostering the bond between the dog and its potential human partner cannot begin in the early stages of the dog’s basic training and socialization and in fact may be necessary for a successful partnership.
Puppy resides in a loving home witha puppy raisers from the age of eight (8) to ten (10) weeks until they are 12 to 18 months of age. The puppy raiser’s goal is to raise an energetic and curious pup into a mature, dependable dog. During phase one training, the puppies attend bimonthly training classes and are socialized in various public settings to form the foundation for their specialized training once the puppy is matched with a partner.
During this important part of the dog’s growth, each puppy is evaluated by the trainers and veterinarians to ensure their health and temperament meet the requirements for phase two of their training. Before moving onto phase two, the Perfect Fit Canines dog will have mastered basic obedience skills.
During phase two of the program our Autism Specialist and Animal Behavorist will work diligently to initiate animal-client interaction at the time appropriate for each individual child, the dog with whom he or she may be partnered and the family. The time and costs needed to train, match and permanently place a service dog will be based on a schedule customized to perfectly fit each situation.
Phase two training the puppy will leave the home of the puppy raiser and enroll in a boot camp at Misty Pines Dog Park to undergo daily training by Mr. Woods and his staff. The length of the boot camp is dependent upon the skills the puppy must master to complete the fit with the client.
During phase two training, the dog-client team with work with our autism specialist, Jim Wagner, as well as the Misty Pines training staff to fine tune the working relationship of the team and confirm the dog is a perfect fit for the needs of the child and his/her family. Before placement with the client, the client-dog team will pass a competency test, including the Canine Good Citizen and Therapy Dog International tests.
Once at home, Perfect Fit Canines will provide on-going support, training and information to ensure the continuing success of the team. To begin the application process, please contact Susan Wagner and/or Jim Wagner at Perfect Fit Canines: 412-359-9789 to request an application.
Submit the completed application with the following documents:
- Photograph of your child or young adult seeking a service dog, if unable to meet in person;
- One letter of reference from a relative not residing in your household;
- One letter of reference from a friend or professional who has known your child or the young adult for at least one (1) year;
- $100 (non-refundable) application fee;
- Confirmation of Disability and Diagnosis Prescription (form provided with application) completed by the recipient’s physician; and,
- Signed Release of Information (form provided with application).
- Once your application is reviewed, our Autism Specialist will contact you to set a time for an at-home interview. Both parents/care givers must be present for this interview.
- This step includes an assessment of your child’s interaction with one of our dogs in training and completion of additional paperwork and agreements.