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  • If the dog is really trained, why do I need to have even more lessons after I own him/her?
    Practicing is fantastic! But, what if we could show you a way to do it better, more effective, and a way that the dog improves with each response? Our lessons are geared towards teaching YOU how to work with your dog more effectively.
  • After the ownership transfer, what if I decide I no longer want the dog?
    We hope this never happens but understand that sometimes clients will have a change of heart. Compass Key maintains a “first right of refusal” in our Ownership Transfer Agreement. If you decide that you no longer want to keep the dog, please contact Compass Key first to determine if we have availability to intake the dog again in the future.
  • If the dog is really trained, do I really need to practice and exercise with him/her daily?
    Yes. Yes. Yes! Even service dogs that have been working for years still need practice and exercise. This is a crucial step in the ongoing training for your dog. Consider the dog similar to a college graduate – he/she has had a lot of education and training, but now needs to go out in the real world and be put to work. This takes more than just the education and training; it takes daily practice too! They will not be perfect on their first day on the job working with a new person.
  • The dog has spent so much time with the trainer, will he/she ever bond with me the same way?
    Bonding with a dog takes time! The trainer will always have a bond with the dog and the dog is likely to recognize them and get very excited for years to come! We recommend spending a lot of time during the first few weeks playing, going for walks, practicing the cues and giving rewards for cues the dog especially enjoys performing. If at all possible, we also recommend that the dog does not leave your side for the first week (stock up on groceries/errands as much as possible before the dog comes to your home to stay) – If you go downstairs, so does the dog. If you go in the bathroom, so does the dog. If you go to the kitchen, so does the dog. All of this helps with bonding.
  • I understand that I can’t change or customize the skills, but would you be able to add additional skills to the training process after I put the deposit down?
    Dogs available for purchase were acquired to be trained for a specific skill set or sets (see our Dog Sales: Disability Skills Training list). The dog was initially selected for training to fall within that designated set list. However, if you would like to add an entire set list to the dog’s training, that may be an option depending on the trainer and the dog’s capability. In many situations, this may not be an option. If you add an entire set list, the cost of the dog will change – likely by a few thousand dollars depending on the set list. To add just a few customized skills to the dog’s training, the most effective and cost efficient route is to purchase the dog as is, and following ownership transfer the continuing lessons can include adding any skills/behaviors that you would like customized to fit your needs. Compass Key does not start any physical support training where pressure is applied on a dog until the dog is fully matured, has certified x-rays, and approval from a veterinarian.
  • How does the dog purchase process work?
    1. Client has an Initial Consultation ($300 plus any applicable travel charges, see our FAQs on Service Dog Training). This may be done in person or virtually. 2. If both the client and the trainer believe that an available dog may be a good match for each other, the client will need to submit an Application for the dog. 3. If the Application is approved, a “Meet and Greet” is scheduled ($300 plus any applicable travel charges). During this time, you will learn more about the dog and the trainer will review the exercise, care, and practice requirements of the dog. This Meet and Greet is highly recommended to be completed in-person, but may be completed virtually if necessary. If the Meet and Greet is not completed at the client’s home, we will need to complete a virtual (Facetime or Zoom) review of the premises where the dog will be kept. 4. Following the Meet and Greet, client and trainer will both determine if this dog is a good fit. There is no guarantee that the trainer will believe the dog is a good match for you, even if you strongly desire to purchase the dog. Our goal is to match a dog and a client that will work well together. 5. If client and trainer decide to move forward, the initial client paperwork (letter of medical necessity and completed Service Dog Overview Agreement) will need to be completed prior to putting a deposit on the dog. 6. A Deposit Agreement is required to be signed and a deposit of $5,500 will need to be received by Compass Key. 7. Please see the dog’s approximate availability date. We estimate that all dogs will remain with Compass Key for several months following our initial acquisition. You may put a deposit (“hold”) on the dog several months before the approximate availability date. 8. The purchaser must complete a minimum of 3 virtual lessons and a minimum of 5 private lessons (in-person). The cost of these 8 lessons is included in the $5,500 deposit. If travel charges are required and/or if additional lessons are needed, those costs will be invoiced separately and payment will be due upon receipt of the invoice. (While we strongly encourage the 5 private lessons be completed prior to transfer training, you may complete the 5 private lessons (in-person) at the same time as transfer training). 9. When the dog is ready for their final testing with a non-primary trainer, the official ownership transfer date will be scheduled within 2 weeks of the testing date. If you are unavailable for the dog to come into your home within those 2 weeks, ownership will still transfer (balance paid, and Ownership Transfer Agreement signed) at the 2-week mark. Additional days will be invoiced as Maintenance Boarding. 10. Transfer training will take place at your home (travel charges may apply) and includes 5 hours of training typically over a two-day period (2.5 hours one day/evening and 2.5 hours the next day). Trainer will keep the dog with them at their hotel overnight in between the two days of transfer training. 11. We strongly recommend scheduling 2 lessons weekly for the first 2 weeks the dog is in your home and weekly lessons for at least 4-6 weeks. Once the dog is settled in more, lessons should continue at minimum twice each month.
  • Is the price of the dog negotiable?
    No, the cost of the dog is already discounted and does not represent the amount of time and effort the trainer has invested. Consider that the cost of a 4-week Board and Train Program is $6,300 and the average time that a dog listed for sale has spent with a trainer is a minimum of six months (plus with dog sales we have the cost of all supplies, acquisition, veterinarian visits, etc.).
  • Will the dog stay at my house at all during the training or transfer process?
    Transfer training will always take place in your home. We strongly recommend that the private lessons completed before the dog’s ownership transfer also take place in your home. The dog will remain with the trainer (sleeping, hotel stays, etc.) until the dog is officially transferred into your ownership.
  • What if it doesn’t work out (I change my mind, dog doesn’t progress in training, etc.), but I already have a deposit on the dog?
    We understand! This does happen occasionally. If Compass Key determines that the dog is not progressing with training or otherwise becomes unsuitable to be a service dog, the full deposit amount will be returned. The Initial Consultation charge and Meet and Greet charges are not refundable. If we have another dog available for purchase, now or in the future, you are welcome to place a deposit on a new dog. If, for any reason, you decide to not move forward with purchasing a dog that you have already placed a deposit on, partial deposit refunds may be available depending on when the deposit was submitted, how many handler pre-ownership transfer lessons have been completed, and when the dog was intended to be transferred to you for ownership.
  • What guarantees do you have on the dog?
    We guarantee that we have tested the dog in all areas of Phases 1-3 (aside from spay/neuter requirement if dog is under 1 year old or otherwise not recommended to be sterilized yet), and an introduction to Phase 4 (dogs under 1 year old and not fully matured cannot test through Phase 4) of our Service Dog Training Program. That does not mean the dog is perfect, is robotic in any of the cues/behaviors, or will perform 100% of the time. We guarantee that we have had various health clearances performed by a veterinarian. Before Compass Key lists a dog for sale, we have a completed Veterinarian Health Check Form on file and dog is current on age-appropriate vaccinations recommended by the veterinarian. Please note that we require a new Veterinarian Health Check Form annually on file, so, after ownership of the dog is transferred we will need a new form on file annually. This Veterinarian Health Check Form does not mean that the dog is guaranteed to be cleared of any future diseases, illnesses, or injuries.
  • How do I know the dog is really trained?
    We take our comprehensive training process very seriously. The primary trainer of the dog is not the same person as the tester. We require that a non-primary trainer on our staff tests the dog on Phase 1: Basic Skills, Phase 2: Advanced Skills (including a behavior assessment), Phase 3: Disability Skills (aside from spay/neuter requirement), and an introduction to Phase 4: Public Access Training of our Service Dog Training Program prior to the transfer of dog’s ownership. During your Initial Consultation, you will receive a program book that outlines the requirements of every dog/handler team in our program. Please note that the primary trainer is the “handler” of the dog through testing. This means that the handler is highly experienced and is a professional. You will need to have many lessons and practice with the dog regularly before he/she responds to you the same way. Our testing/training process with the dog and the primary trainer are the exact same as what we require of all clients and their dogs. We will not officially test dogs through Phase 4: Public Access Training for multiple reasons, but we will ensure that they have been introduced to public environments. The majority of dogs available for purchase are not fully matured. One of the requirements of our Phase 4: Public Access Training checklist is that the dog is at least 1 year old and fully matured. While Phase 3: Disability Skills requires that all dogs are introduced to the foundation of disability skills, Phase 4: Public Access Training requires that the dog’s disability skills are both refined and can be accomplished with no coaxing in public. Expecting a young un-matured dog to complete refined disability skills in public is unrealistic and while the dog will be taught to understand disability skills at time of purchase, they will not be refined and ready-to-work in public. Dogs are not sold as certified service dogs. Once transferred to the new owner, the handler/dog team will need to test out of each phase together prior to becoming a certified team.
  • I like this program, but I want a specific breed of dog and would like the training customized to fit my needs.
    This dog sale program is intended to optimize the success that a specific dog will be sold. For this reason, we do not take special requests for specific breeds and disability skills. We look at our client base as a whole to determine what breeds and what disability skills are most requested at any specific time. This helps us have greater success to sell a dog quickly so we have availability to intake the next dog. Even if a client promises to put a deposit on a dog as soon as we intake and start training, if that client changes their mind later in the process Compass Key would have possession of a dog with a lower likelihood of being sold quickly (which hinders our availability to continue intaking dogs). We do understand that many clients want this customized training and use of a specific breed. We are able to accommodate these wishes with our Board & Train program. We are happy to help you select a dog and use our Board & Train program (many clients use this long-term – sometimes throughout puppy stage or throughout the adolescence stage). Please see our Service Dog Training FAQ for more information.
  • What is transfer training?
    The final step before the dog comes to live in their new home! Transfer training will take place at your home (travel charges may apply) once the dog has completed testing and training requirements and is ready for ownership transfer. It includes 5 hours of training which is typically completed over a two-day period (2.5 hours one day/evening and 2.5 hours the next day). The trainer will keep the dog with them at their hotel overnight in between the two days of transfer training.
  • What does the cost of the dog represent?
    We purchase a puppy from a breeder that breeds for health and temperament. The price of these puppies is $4,000 each plus the cost of transportation to get them to a trainer. Then the training begins with the puppy at just 8 weeks old. Puppies have between five and ten training sessions a day. They live in a structured environment and soon learn that most puppy behaviors need adjusting. They also learn nearly 40 cues that are taught (sit, down, stay, wait, come, leave it, off, place, back, heel, touch, etc.). These puppies stay with a trainer for ten to fourteen months with training done every day. The cues are refined with duration, distance, and distractions to ensure that these dogs remained focused on their handlers regardless of the level of stimuli. Breaking down the daily cost, if a service dog in-training were with the trainer for one year, and the price of the dog is $48,000, that comes out to $131 per day, but that does not include the acquisition cost, veterinarian bills, food, toys, etc. On average, trainers end up earning about $62 per day training a puppy. That's not very much when considering the outings for socialization, the sleepless nights, and all of the countless aspects of raising a young puppy. Non-profit service dog organizations value their dogs to be between $75,000 and $85,000. They come up with this number based on the 100's of hours of training and all other costs related to raising and training a service dog. The price also includes special testing conducted by a non-primary trainer, and most importantly, lessons with the new handler (3 virtual lessons while dog is still in training, 5 in person lessons, 5 lessons for ownership transfer training, and 2 lessons after the transfer has been completed). The cost of the Meet & Greet ($300) is deducted in our final price for the dog.
  • If the dog has already passed through phases in the Service Dog Training Program, why do we need to do it again?
    Our program is designed for a team (handler/dog) to complete together. A huge aspect of this is making sure the handler knows how to, well, handle the dog! We want to put you in real-life scenarios that you will likely come across while working with your dog. We want to show you how to work through those scenarios in a way that your dog responds to you. Passing through each phase of our program does just this. It will take you and your dog through various situations so you are well-prepared when those situations happen again in real life.
  • Why do I need lessons with the dog when he/she isn’t even mine yet?
    We want to be sure you are prepared when you do own the dog! It is important for the handler of the dog to be consistent and patient. Your trainer will teach you how to work with this individual dog.
  • How long will you keep the dog? Why is there only an approximate availability date? When will I know the exact date a dog will be available for ownership transfer?
    The average time a dog will remain with a trainer is 6 months, depending on age, maturity, and previous training. When we list a dog for sale, we typically have just acquired him/her. The approximate availability date is 6 months from Compass Key’s acquisition date for a new puppy, and usually less for an adult or foundationally trained dog. We will not have a more precise availability date until the dog/handler team have tested through Phase 3: Disability Skills (aside from spay/neuter requirement), and starting their introduction to Phase 4: Public Access (typically this is 4-8 weeks before the listed approximate availability date). The approximate availability date is an estimate. Sometimes the trainer will have additional time to devote and have the capacity to intensely work on cues/behaviors causing this availability date to be sooner. Sometimes the trainer will not have the capacity to intensely work with the dog and/or the dog is struggling to learn some cues/behaviors causing the availability date to be later. In either instance, it will not affect the cost of the dog.
  • How do you select which dogs to acquire for dog training/selling purposes?
    Currently, we are only capable of intaking dogs that we have determined to have an optimal success rate of completing our program, with easy transportation to/from a trainer’s location for assessment and pick-up. If a trainer has availability and interest with intaking a dog, the breeder/seller is first interviewed to determine if they meet our standards. We also require that a copy of OFA or PennHip reports on the dog (or generational reports if the dog is under 4 months old) are provided. If dog is current on all vaccination records, the trainer will schedule a thorough assessment and temperament test in person with the dog to determine if he/she is a good fit for our program.
  • I really want this dog right now. I don’t care that he/she hasn’t completed training or that I haven’t had any lessons yet. How much will the dog cost if I just take ownership now?
    These dogs are only sold within the parameters set forth under “How does the dog purchase process work?” Another option that may work for you is selecting a dog of your choice for training and using Compass Key trainers for an extended Board & Train program.
  • What is the deposit for?
    The deposit is to officially put a “hold” on the dog. The dog will be available to purchase for anyone until someone has submitted the full deposit amount of $5,500. Partial deposits are not accepted to “hold” the dog.
  • How often will you provide updates on the dog’s progress while he/she is still in training?
    Training updates will be in the form of lessons (either in-person or virtual) with you. We recommend a minimum of one lesson every 3-4 weeks while the dog is still residing with the trainer.
  • Do you have a payment plan or financing available so I can pay for the dog over time?
    Compass Key does not have a payment plan available as we are not in the financing business. However, we recommend PayPal Credit as a financing option. They offer loans up to six months with no interest.
  • This dog is going to be a perfect robot once I get him/her into my home …. right?!
    NO! Dogs are imperfect beings. It is never our intention to make them perfect. We want them to be dogs. We want them to have fun. And of course, we want them to be well-behaved and able to provide assistance to those in need. The top few reasons a dog is not listening: 1. Not enough exercise. They are bored! The amount of exercise (running) needed differs with each dog. Some dogs need several hours of exercise daily to work to their fullest potential. 2. Not enough attention and/or bonding time. Spend some time just taking a slow walk with your dog, or laying down petting him/her. 3. Not enough (or, sometimes too much!) practice. We recommend 5-7 sessions daily of about 5 minutes each for most dogs. 4. Adolescence. Yes, even dogs go through adolescence! Most dogs go through adolescence between about 4 months to about 14 months (sometimes starting younger, and sometimes lasting until a bit older). A dog’s adolescence period can be trying. There will be times that they act as if they have forgotten literally everything they know. Remain patient! They have not forgotten everything, so continue with numbers 1-3 above!
  • What is a service dog (assistance dog)?
    Service dogs (sometimes referred to as assistance dogs) assist people with physical, neurological, or psychological disabilities to perform everyday tasks. They help people overcome limitations caused by the disability and increase their independence and quality of life. They can provide alerts before the handler experiences a medical problem or assist when the problem occurs. They provide a wide range of assistance to address many types of physical limitations. They alert people with hearing impairment to ringing phones and doorbells. They can help people with Post Traumatic Stress, Military Sexual Trauma, or Traumatic Brain Injury to function successfully in public, helping them to feel secure and easing stressful situations. Each service dog/handler team is individually trained to address the unique needs of the handler. The Compass Key Service Dog Training Program is designed to exceed training requirements of service dogs as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). If you are instead interested in Therapy Dog training, where dogs are trained to visit individuals in different facilities to visit clientele for comfort, please contact us for additional information.
  • Why shouldn't I just buy a vest online that indicates my dog is a service dog?
    There are many scam organizations online that people use to purchase vests for imposter service dogs. Anyone can purchase these vests to give the illusion to the public that their pet is actually a service dog. Unlike scam organizations, Compass Key's program ensures that dogs are highly trained and tested so they are able to mitigate the disabilities of their owner, properly trained for all public venues, and have a handler that thoroughly understands how to work with them.
  • Sign me up! How do I start?
    The first step is having a consultation with one of our trainers. If you would like to schedule the Initial Consultation, please contact us by filling out our contact form. You do not need to have any documentation for the Initial Consultation, and we will begin compiling that information from you once a plan has been determined to begin training. We look forward to meeting with you!
  • I am not located close to any of your trainers. Is there any other way you can help me?
    If you are not close to any of the locations listed on our website and are willing to travel, we are happy to discuss potential training options. We have had successful training programs with clients located internationally that have been willing to travel to work with us and use tools such as Zoom or Facetime for video conferencing in-between in-person sessions. Another option is to utilize an outside trainer to provide a foundation with basic and advanced obedience skills prior to working with Compass Key directly. Once you begin working with Compass Key, one of our trainers will need to test you through Phase 1: Basic Skills and Phase 2: Advanced Skills.
  • I don't have money for training; do I have other options?
    First, check with your health insurance company. Some plans, such as many health savings accounts (HSA), offer assistance with the cost of service dogs. Also, many of our clients fundraise to help with the cost of training prior to starting the training process. We have had clients start online fundraisers or ask different businesses in their community to help with the cost. As much as we would like to help in the training process, if you are unable to pay for training and are unable to fundraise, Compass Key is unable to train you or your dog. An alternative is applying to a non-profit organization that provides service dogs.
  • Once my dog has completed training, are they able to go everywhere with me?
    Service dogs are protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and are able to be with their handler out in public anywhere a civilian is permitted.
  • How is having my dog trained through Compass Key different than getting a dog through a non-profit service dog organization?
    Clients of Compass Key reap significant benefits that many reputable non-profit service dog organizations do not offer: -The most common is that Compass Key is able to train clients' privately-owned dogs, assuming those dogs prove to be good candidates. Most non-profit organizations breed and train their own dogs and do not train their clients' pet dogs. -We train dogs for clients of all ages. Sometimes the handler of the dog is not the actual client and, is instead, the client’s parent, guardian, or caretaker. There are no age requirements for handlers, but they must be able to give cues, corrections, and properly handle the dog throughout each phase of the Service Dog Training Program. -Our clients are involved in every step of the training process from the beginning to the end, including lessons that we conduct in our clients' homes. -There are no excessive wait times with Compass Key. Most non-profit organizations have lengthy waiting lists (sometimes a few years) to receive a dog. -Non-profit organizations typically receive a large number of applications, but very few individuals are accepted because there are a limited number of dogs available. We are able to accept many clients after reviewing and completing our Initial Consultation; no applications needed! -Your dog’s training will be customized to your needs rather than having generalized disability mitigation training that may not apply to you.
  • Is my dog guaranteed to become a service dog?
    Everyone at Compass Key is committed to being completely honest and forthcoming with all observations to give you a realistic expectation of what will be accomplished during training. We will listen and work with you diligently and take time to answer any questions throughout the training process. We certainly want to see continued success and progress. We also know that there are no absolutes with dog training. How well your dog learns and how much they improve will depend on many factors including their level of socialization, genetic predisposition, and how much time you train with them. Our ultimate goal at Compass Key is to give you the tools to establish clear communication, mutual respect, and the necessary confidence that is crucial between you and your dog. We will show you how to understand your dog, how to teach your dog to understand you, and how to remain consistent in every situation. The trainers at Compass Key believe that building this close relationship with your dog is accomplished through constant, positive interaction thereby creating a healthy foundation on which even the most difficult challenges can be resolved. Participation in our training program does not guarantee certification. If at any time the trainer feels the dog is not well suited for assistance work due to behavior or lack of response with training, the handler will be promptly informed.
  • How long does it take?
    The length of training is different for every dog and there are many factors that need to be considered (i.e. age of the dog, trainability, cue/skill sets they need to acquire, and level of involvement of the owner/handler). Sometimes training can take more than 1 year to complete depending on these factors.
  • I travel via airplane frequently; will my dog be able to go with me?
    Phase 6: Travel Training is an optional add-on to our program that includes a trainer going on a round-trip flight with you to teach you and your dog the appropriate procedures. The cost of this training includes the airplane tickets (yours and your trainer’s), plus $125/hour for your trainer’s time. We highly recommend that you take advantage of this program if you intend on flying with your dog. Be sure you have a copy of your letter of medical necessity and your certified handler/dog ID Card from Compass Key anytime you fly.
  • Does my dog have to be a certain age to start training?
    We recommend that puppies start training as early as possible to ensure proper puppy development. We train dogs of all ages and start as young as 8 weeks! Older dogs can learn too! Please keep in mind that service/assistance work can be tiring for dogs especially as dogs approach mid-life. We do not recommend starting with a dog older than about 4 years old, depending on the breed. For dogs that will be trained in any type of scent detection work, we recommend that training starts with a dog younger than 1-year-old.
  • I don't currently own a dog. Can you help me find one?
    Selecting the right dog is crucial to your success as a service dog team. For this reason, we strongly encourage you to have the Initial Consultation with a professional trainer BEFORE you select a dog. In service dog training, the dog’s lineage, health clearances, and breed characteristics play a large role throughout the overall course of training. Because of these other factors selecting one of the most common service dog breeds (Golden Retrievers and Labrador Retrievers) is oftentimes not enough alone. Mixes of Golden Retrievers and Labrador Retrievers (example – Goldendoodles and Labradoodles) have vastly different characteristics as a mix. During the Initial Consultation your trainer will discuss the dog selection process and can make suggestions about which breeds will work best for your needs. Once you have tentatively selected your dog, you may decide to schedule a trainer’s assessment of the dog ($300 + any applicable travel). Prior to the trainer assessing a potential new dog, you first need to have an Initial Consultation with your trainer.
  • If I have several lessons in a short period of time, will I complete the training program much faster?
    Consistent repetition of cues and skills over a period of time is what creates long-lasting behaviors. Quickly jumping from one skill to the next will not have long-lasting results for your dog. Age and maturity are major factors in the ability to progress through the program and more lessons will not accelerate maturity. We test dogs in various environments and circumstances to ensure they understand the correct response before moving forward with new skills. While we may recommend weekly or bi-weekly lessons, scheduling lump back-to-back lessons is not beneficial for you or your dog. Instead, daily practice is where you will see the most substantial results. It is also important to not over-work your dog, which includes long workdays, too much stress, excessive requests or expectations of your dog’s abilities, considerations of weather, inadequate sleep, exercise, and play/socialization time.
  • What documentation do you require for the program?
    To commence training, we require a signed Service Dog Overview Agreement, Emergency Contact Forms completed by your selected contacts, our Medical Necessity Form completed by one of your licensed medical providers, a copy of your dog’s Rabies Certificate (if old enough), documentation of distemper vaccination (i.e. DHPP), documentation of parvo vaccination, and documentation of a negative fecal test within the last six-months. Prior to beginning disability skills training, we also need a completed Veterinarian Health Check Form. In addition to passing all training requirements, to complete the program you must maintain at least a 6-month relationship with Compass Key, and your dog must be at least 1 year old, be mentally and physically mature, and be spayed or neutered.
  • Is the cost for training tax deductible?
    Likely. Costs associated with the purchase of a dog, training costs, veterinary bills, food (if prescribed by the veterinarian), and other expenses may all be tax deductible! Please consult your tax preparer for additional information.
  • Do you provide training for Emotional Support Animals (ESA), training if I do not need my dog to accompany me in public, or training for just a few specific disability tasks?
    We are happy to help train disability skills even if you decide not to pursue the entire Service Dog Training Program. You would still need to enter into the Service Dog Training Program (with all of the same requirements) and test out of Phase 1: Basic Skills and Phase 2: Advanced Skills prior to moving into Phase 3: Disability Skills training. You are not required to complete the full program.
  • What is Assistance Dogs International (ADI)?
    Assistance Dogs International (ADI) is an internationally recognized accreditor of legitimate service dog organizations. Currently, ADI only recognizes non-profit organizations. Because Compass Key is a for-profit company, we are not eligible to seek recognition or accreditation through ADI. Some government agencies do require that service dogs on premises maintain a certification through an ADI-accredited organization (i.e. military bases, flying internationally, etc.). For these reasons, Compass Key recommends that all clients consider pursuing certification with an ADI-recognized organization. However, according to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), you are not required to be certified by any organization to have your service dog with you in public environments.
  • What is the cost of each training package?
    The training consists of phases: (1) basic skills, (2) advanced skills, (3) disability skills, (4) public access, (5) physical support skills (optional add-on for adult dogs only), and (6) travel training (optional add-on). At the end of each of these training phases, you and your dog are tested prior to starting the next phase of training. Some dogs may already have the necessary foundational skills to quickly pass through specific phases (i.e. some may be ready to simply take the test for that phase to move to the next phase). The length of each phase and intensity of training will depend on you and your dog. It is very important that you continue working with your dog on a daily basis between their lessons, so they continue to learn from you and progress. Depending on the phase and intensity level, your trainer will recommend which training type will be best for you and your dog. A combination of several training options will likely be utilized to pass through all phases of training. The program types are: Initial Consultation The first step of the process is scheduling your Initial Consultation. During this time, we will answer any questions you may have and will explain, step-by-step, our Service Dog Training Program. We will provide you with a digital copy of our Service Dog Training Program book that itemizes every skill and task required in our program. If you already have a dog, we are able to meet them during this time to have a basic evaluation of their overall temperament. If you do not have a dog, we will discuss your preferences and explain available options. We will convey what to expect throughout the course of training and explain all of the requirements needed. Approximately 1.5 - 2 hours: $300 (due upon scheduling). Please note that no training is conducted during this consultation. If there is a lapse of more than 6 months between the Initial Consultation and when you are ready to begin training, a new Initial Consultation may be required. Travel charges may apply. See the last page of this FAQ for the Travel Charges Worksheet. A virtual Consultation using a video conferencing platform (Zoom, FaceTime, etc.) may be scheduled for those located a distance from us. A hard copy version of our Service Dog Training Program book may be requested and shipped to you for $55 Training Center, Group, or Virtual Lessons Lessons are conducted at our facility (available at the Southeastern PA and Northern VA branches only), at various public venues (group lessons only), or via a video conferencing platform (Zoom, FaceTime, etc.) at the trainer’s discretion (many skills/tasks are recommended to be trained in person). We will be teaching you how to work with your dog in between lessons and will ask for daily practice ("homework") from you! $145 per lesson (due upon scheduling). (1-hour lessons for training center or virtual lessons, 2-hour lessons for group lessons) Purchase 5-lesson package for $700 (non-transferable to other clients or into other programs) (full payment due upon scheduling first lesson). Training center or virtual lessons may be conducted back-to-back if you would prefer multiple-hour lessons. Group lessons are only available to dog/handler teams that have already passed Phase 1: Basic Obedience of the Service Dog Training Program Group lessons are only scheduled periodically. Trainers will invite eligible participants to group lessons based on dog teams that will work best together. Group lessons will have a maximum of 5 dog/handler teams. If 2 dog/handler teams or fewer arrive to the group lesson, the lesson may be shortened to 1 hour. Group lessons are scheduled at various venues. If there are multiple venues during one lesson, travel time is included in the 2-hours. There is no additional charge for multiple dogs of the same household participating in the training center or virtual individual lessons. Private Lessons Individual private lessons are conducted in your own home or at a public venue. These lessons are 1 hour each and are customized to fit the needs of you and your dog. We will be teaching you (and any other members of your household) how to work with your dog in between lessons and will ask for daily practice ("homework") from you! $195 per 1-hour lesson (due upon scheduling). Purchase 5-lesson package for $900 (non-transferable to other clients or into other programs) (full payment due upon scheduling first lesson). Lessons may be conducted back-to-back if you would prefer multiple-hour lessons. Travel charges may apply. See the last page of this FAQ for Travel Charges Worksheet. There is no additional charge for multiple dogs of the same household participating in these lessons. Board & Train Your dog will come to stay with one of our professional trainers in the trainer's own home. They will be loved and cared for as if they were part of our family. They will be learning new cues and skills throughout their stay while living in a structured environment. A scheduled time will be given for you to drop-off your dog and their luggage to the trainer. Our Board & Train program costs $225 per day with a minimum of a 5-day stay. Puppies, ages 0 to six months are $300 per day. Below are examples of various typical Board & Train programs. 1 Week-Long Stays (Minimum): (Half-payment is due to schedule training and half-payment is due two business days prior to pick-up.) 1 week + take-home lesson = $1,575 (Puppies $2,100) Add a Day = $225 (Puppies $300) 2 Week-Long Stays: (Half-payment is due to schedule training and half-payment is due two business days prior to pick-up.) 2 weeks + take-home lesson = $3,150 (Puppies $4,200) Add a Day = $225, (Puppies $300) Add a Week = $1,575 (Puppies $2,100) 4 Week-Long Stays or Longer: 4 weeks + take-home lesson = $6,300 (Puppies $8,400) (Half-payment is due to schedule training and half-payment is due two business days prior to pick-up.) Multiple 4 week-long packages, half-payment of the first 4 weeks is due to schedule training and the remaining half is due by the end of the first 4-week period. Subsequent months: half-payment is due every 2 weeks with the first payment due on the first day of the new period.) Add a Day = $225 (Puppies $300) Add a Week = $1,575 (Puppies $2,100) Day-Training Your dog will spend the day working with one of our professional trainers. Drop-off/pick-up times may extend between 6-10 hours for this day-training program. During your dog’s stay, the trainer will be working with him/her on overall structure and specific cues/behaviors previously discussed and agreed upon by you and the trainer. $265 /day (Puppies $325) $50 overnight charge (if scheduled beforehand) Maintenance Boarding Your dog will come to stay with one of our professional trainers in the trainer's own home. They will be loved and cared for as if they were part of our family. This is primarily a boarding program; no new training will be conducted. It is meant for clients who are traveling and want their dog to stay in a structured environment while they are away. Your trainer will practice previously taught and refined commands to upkeep their current level of training. This program is not meant to teach refinement of commands, but instead, maintain your dog’s current level without regression. $115/day Additional Options/Notes on Board & Train, Day Training, and Maintenance Boarding: A special trip to veterinarian, groomer, pick-up of specialty dog food, etc. = $65 plus travel charges and cost of service/item. An additional holiday charge of $65 will be added for training on the following days: New Year’s Eve New Year’s Day Memorial Day Independence Day Veterans Day Thanksgiving Day and the Friday following Christmas Eve Christmas Day and the day following Dog pick-up may be scheduled for an additional $30, plus any applicable travel charges (see Add-Ons below). If for any reason you need your dog to stay another night with our trainer, the additional cost is $250 per night. Payment for any additional nights is due by the take-home lesson. There may be additional in-training dogs staying with your trainer at the same time. If your trainer will be leaving their home for more than a few hours, they will ask a trusted friend or family member to check-on your dog while they are away (may include feeding or play time). Add-Ons for all Training Options: Travel Charges – Please see the last page of this FAQ for the Travel Charges Worksheet. Phone/email/text message interaction between lessons, during Board & Train, or Maintenance Boarding program beyond what is agreed upon = $40/30 minutes. Video conferencing platform (Zoom, FaceTime, etc.) interaction between lessons, during Board & Train, or Maintenance Boarding program = $70 for 0 to 30 minutes (minimum); $65 for additional 30-minute slots during same call. Email including a comprehensive overview of lesson notes, feedback, and homework = $15 each.
  • What types of service dogs do you train?
    We train service dogs for many types of disabilities. This includes individuals with psychiatric or psychological diagnoses, as well as mobility, balance, or other physical and neurological challenges. We also train dogs for medical conditions such as narcolepsy, seizures, traumatic brain injuries, hearing, allergen, and diabetes. We are able to customize training based on need and often work with clients who have rare conditions. We do not train Guide Dogs for the blind.
  • What breeds of dogs do you use?
    Although we often use Golden Retrievers and Labrador Retrievers because of the likelihood that they will have the preferred temperament and trainability, we have also trained dogs of many different breeds and sizes that ultimately have become certified service dogs.
  • Are you affiliated with any organization that is recognized by Assistance Dogs International (ADI) and would provide certification for me and my dog?
    Compass Key believes that legitimate service dog organizations’ primary mission is to help people with disabilities, while collectively promoting what is best for clients, dogs, and the service dog industry. Communication, interaction, and strong relationships with like-minded service dog organizations result in a mutual benefit to everyone. Assistance Dogs International provides a comprehensive listing of service dog organizations that they recognize as having exemplary standards. If you are seeking a certification from an organization that is recognized by ADI, we recommend contacting your desired organization to determine their process and whether or not they certify privately-owned dogs. Each ADI recognized organization will have different requirements, procedures, and costs for privately owned dogs to pursue certification. Eligibility for certification with any organization is separate from your training with Compass Key, so you will need to contact your preferred organization directly. We have many clients that have passed our Compass Key Service Dog Training Program that have successfully pursued and graduated with an ADI-recognized certification! Please feel free to contact us if you would like information on the organizations our clients have successfully pursued for ADI certification.
  • How much does it cost?
    The cost depends on how much training is involved and the length of time the training will take. Payments are scheduled throughout the course of training to help make programs affordable to as many clients’ budgets as possible. The following are cost estimates for example scenarios. No two clients are the same and no two dogs are the same, so the final price will always vary. These estimates are based off of the average total cost typically paid: (1) Cost Estimate # 1: Starting training with a new puppy (2) Cost Estimate # 2: Starting training with a dog with basic skills (3) Cost Estimate # 3: Training a dog for an owner that has limited involvement in training process (4) Cost Estimate # 4: Training on a budget (5) Cost Estimate # 5: Training a dog for a long-distance client (6) Travel Charges
  • What happens once I complete the Compass Key Service Dog Training Program?
    Certification that exceeds all requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) can be pursued through Compass Key by successfully completing the 4 phases of the Service Dog Training Program. Compass Key requires that you maintain at least a 6-month relationship with us prior to the final test, your dog is at least 1 year old, and fully matured. Your dog must be spayed or neutered to pursue certification with Compass Key. The initial cost of certification is $150 and includes a vest and ID Card. To maintain your certification with Compass Key, you will need to maintain regular communication and updates with us, re-test annually (for the price of a regular lesson), and pay an annual re-certification administration fee of $150. We further recommend that you obtain General Liability insurance to ensure proper coverage for you and your dog while in public places. If you decide not to become certified by Compass Key, but still complete the program with all other requirements, we will provide a program completion letter for your use.
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