Meet The Puppies Training To Be Service Dogs
– [Narrator] Across the country more than
half a million people rely on a service dog
in their everyday life.
These elite dogs are the product of
months of schooling.
And not all puppies that begin training
have what it takes to become a service dog.
If a pup doesn’t live up to the strict
standards required they will fail out.
Which puppies have the brains and behavior
to make it through the rigors of training?
We find out
at Puppy Prep.
On the California coastline,
about half way between Los Angeles
and San Francisco sits Arroyo Grande.
A small community of beaches,
mountains and wineries.
Just outside of town is Doggie Do Good.
A training and obedience school specializing
in the education of service dogs.
Depending on the dog,
the journey from carefree puppy to hero
can take anywhere from six months
to more than a year.
Not all dogs make it through the process.
If a dog flunks out,
it’s put up for adoption.
At any given time,
there are dozens of service dogs in
training at Doggy Do Good.
The abilities they learn range from
retrieval, to stability, pressure therapy,
medical alerts, simply kisses,
and much more.
What they learn depends upon what each
individual dog is predisposed to.
^yellow lab, Deacon, specializes in
^retrieval and stability.
– Good, steady.
– [Narrator] At almost two years old,
he’s older than many of the dogs that
have already graduated.
He was a stubborn pup.
And though he had come close to
he is now only weeks from
Still, he can’t coast.
Until the minute before graduating,
trainers are watching the dogs for any sign
that they won’t be able to cut it.
Deacon and his classmate are working
on basic come drills.
The pups run around the lawn and play.
And one by one the trainers call out to them.
– Kaya, come.
– Cooper, come.
– [Narrator] The most important thing a
dog needs to learn is the difference
between playtime and work time.
While it’s alright for the dogs
to act like puppies,
as soon as the trainers calls them
they need to snap into work mode.
These drills help solidify that skill.
– [Trainer] Deacon, come.
– [Narrator] For a veteran like Deacon,
this is simple.
If Deacon is a senior in service dog high,
one of the incoming freshman
^An eight month old golden retriever.
Kaya is beautiful and I love her.
If she fails out of school during training,
I will be trying to adopt her.
And right off the bat she’s having a problem.
See, Kaya enjoys the company of people
over other dogs.
While it’s good to be comfortable around people,
she can’t remain nervous around other dogs
if she’s going to pass training.
^Kaya’s half sister, Remmy,
^is also starting class.
Though they share a dad and are almost
the same age Remmy has a
completely different personality.
Remmy loves to play with other dogs.
And often tries to pull her half sister
out of her doggie shell.
^For the especially young pups,
^like six month old chocolate lab, Beneli,
learning the come command begins on a long leash.
A trainer call Beneli and gives a gentle tug.
This one little pull is all the puppy needs
to come the rest of the way.
Until she recognizes the command,
the leash helps Beneli understand
what the English speaking humans
are trying to communicate to her doggy ears.
So far she’s doing an,
Stop getting everyone into trouble.
Keep it it up, Beneli,
and you’ll be off that leash in no time.
After this morning exercise,
it’s time to try something more subdued.
Most of the service dog’s time isn’t spent
running around or actively working.
Instead being calm and on call.
Ready at a moment’s notice to help.
The puppies must lay down and not get
distracted for long stretches of time.
Trainers toss toys around to make sure the
dogs will choose their jobs over pure playtime.
– [Trainer] Good stay, guys.
– [Narrator] Whenever a dog breaks from their
down stay it isn’t enough for the dog to
simply lay back down.
The trainer needs to take the dog
back to the position where they were.
Otherwise a puppy won’t understand the
gravity of getting up.
If a dog is always distracted,
and can’t learn to focus,
that’s the quickest way to fail Puppy Prep.
Kaya’s brother, Luke, is late to class.
He spent the morning offsite with a trainer.
And without having the morning to run around,
like the rest of his classmates,
Luke may be too bored to sit still.
Beneli, all you have to do is
literally stay still.
If Beneli can’t stay when the ball is
tossed over her head,
she may become too distracted when
taken out in public.
you pups just need to relax.
These two have just started,
so their behavior isn’t a huge problem yet.
Kaya, however is just as new and already
a pro at down stay.
That’s why you’re my favorite.
With most of the dogs being unfazed
by the toys,
it’s time for some livelier distractions.
Oh my God,
^it’s Mr. Pip!
^Mr. Pip is beyond
being absolutely undeniable,
also a service dog in training.
Smaller dogs can comfort people with anxiety,
as well as help alert people with diseases
like diabetes when they need to
take their medicine.
Now, however, his only job
is to distract his classmates.
Most of the dogs don’t fall for the enchanting
dance of Mr. Pip.
^Except for Tank, the german shepherd.
^One thing that Tank
needs to work on is his play drive.
Small animals like cats and Mr. Pip
can distract larger dogs when they’re with
their future owners.
Tank must fight his most basic instincts
in order to pass Puppy Prep.
And as for Mr. Pip,
he isn’t scared.
He has a job to do but he performs it admirably.
God bless you, Mr. Pip.
By the end of the down stay lesson,
it looks like everyone’s made progress.
But there’s one more test.
A malinois with almost unlimited energy.
Mercy belongs to Sandy,
the owner of Doggy Do Good.
Mercy acts as a four legged trainer.
Squeaking the toy just as the
people trainers would.
Mercy’s claimed a victim.
With only a month from his planned graduation,
Deacon should know better than to
break from down stay.
If he continues to lose focus,
he may have to stay in school for extra months.
Or worse, flunk out.
As for the other dogs
they’ve taken their lessons well.
For most it’s still early in their
service dog training.
As long as they can keep making progress
the puppies show good promise of graduating.
Kaya in particular,
shows a lot of potential.
Especially for her young age and upbringing.
Unlike her brother, Luke,
who was raised since birth by trainers
at Doggy Do Good,
Kaya went off to a puppy raiser family.
Many of the dogs at Doggy Do Good
live with a foster family for the
first few months of their life.
There, they learn the most basic behaviors.
Like potty training.
When pups reach six to eight months
they return to Doggy Do Good to begin
service dog school.
Kaya’s family dropped her off a few
weeks ago and she’s seen them only once since.
Today, however, they’re back for a visit.
When trainer, Paul, brings Kaya outside,
she thinks she’s going for a walk.
What she doesn’t know is that the family
that raised her is waiting around the corner.
– [Dad] Kaya.
– [Sis] Kaya!
Hi, oh, hi!
– [Dad] Hey, baby, hey baby.
– [Mom] Come here.
– [Sis] I miss you.
– [Narrator] During their training
it’s easy to forget how young the dogs are.
When allowed to roll around with
her former family,
Kaya is all puppy.
Even if foster father, Ray, wants to make sure
she still behaves.
Puppy raisers are a crucial part of
the service dog process.
one of the bottlenecks to training service dogs.
Newborn puppies need your constant attention
to learn the basics of obedience.
– Good girl.
– [Narrator] And while it’s fun for the family
to raise a puppy,
knowing they have to say good bye
in a few short months can be difficult.
Kaya’s family is proud of the job
she’ll someday have,
and while they still miss Kaya,
the family thinks that soon,
they’ll be ready to take another puppy
to help begin its journey to
becoming a service dog.
– Release, release, good girl.
– [Narrator] At the end of the day,
the good boys and good girls at Doggy Do Good
have taken another step to becoming fully
trained service dogs.
But tomorrow is another day
filled with new challenges and distractions
that could ruin a dog’s career.
Which puppies have what it takes?