Updated: Oct 2
At Compass Key most of our clients work under the guidance of our trainers to take their privately owned dogs through the phases of our service dog training program as an owner trainer. However, sometimes this approach isn’t the right fit for everyone. Raising and training a service dog prospect is a substantial commitment, especially if starting from a puppy, and not everyone has the time or knowledge to do so. Owner trainer clients must spend many hours working with our trainers to teach their dogs the basic and advanced skills, disability tasks and/or work, and public access training needed to pass through the program. This takes a lot of dedication working on their own dog training knowledge and skills base, regular training sessions and homework, and ensuring their dog is well rounded and socialized with no major behavioral concerns. This is a difficult feat already, but for someone working full time, a student balancing work and school, a stay-at-home parent, or a person struggling with health concerns, adding raising and training a service dog to their list of tasks can feel impossible. So, in order to be flexible and meet the needs of all our clients, Compass Key offers fully trained service dogs for sale to clients who want to start our program with a fully trained dog.
Service Dogs for Sale
The dogs offered for sale through Compass Key are sold having already gone through phases one through four with one of our experienced trainers. They were purchased as puppies from a responsible breeder, and specifically selected for having a suitable temperament as a service dog. Each puppy lives with one of our trainers in a highly structured environment, and is raised with the utmost care and attention given to proper socialization and training. Once a dog passes through the first four phases, they are available to begin their service dog journey with their new handler. When a client purchases one of the dogs Compass Key has trained, they then are required to take the dog through the Compass Key program as a team. The price range for a fully trained dog from Compass Key typically ranges from around $46,000 to 48,000.
What is included in this price? First, Compass Key purchases 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 eight 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 (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 remain 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.
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.
Breeder or rescue?
A common question that we’re asked about our dogs for sale, is why Compass Key sources dogs from a breeder, instead of from a shelter or rescue. This is a complex question that could really be a whole blog post on its own. In short, rescuing a dog and training them to become a service dog sounds ideal, but in reality, there are many barriers and complications that usually prevent this from happening. Service dogs must represent the most safe and stable dogs in our society, as they are present in basically every aspect of public life. While rescue dogs are not inherently unstable, most do not come with a known behavior and health history, and it can be difficult to get an accurate read on their temperament at such a stressful time of their life. Thus, what can often happen (sometimes after many hours of dedicated training) is a rescue dog develops behavioral or health concerns that precludes them from working as a service dog, and they must be washed from training. This usually involves rehoming the dog, which is difficult on both the dog’s new family and trainer, as well as the dog. In order to best set up our clients and the dogs we hope to offer for sale as service dogs for success, Compass Key chooses to source our dogs from responsible breeders who breed for health and temperament.
One of those breeders is Henne Goldens. Currently all of our dogs offered for sale were bred by Jessica of Henne Goldens, and as a part of this blog she was happy to speak with Compass Key about her breeding program.
Jessica has been breeding golden retrievers for 9 years, and began her breeding program after seeing her family’s golden suffer with numerous health conditions. Originally an intensive care nurse, she now breeds golden retrievers full time, and is determined to make a difference in the breed. The Henne Goldens program emphasizes physical health as the top priority. She started with foundation dogs that came from lineages that met her criteria for health. For each breed, the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) has a Canine Health Information Center (CHIC) website page where you can see recommended health clearances. You can find the detailed recommended health clearances for Golden Retrievers here, which includes testing hips, hearts, eyes, and elbows.
Hip dysplasia is a big concern in goldens, and Jessica takes this issue very seriously, using PennHIP to screen breeding dogs for this health condition. Jessica aims to have all of her breeding dogs meet CHIC standards, and often goes beyond the recommendations, getting DNA clearances on her dogs as well for many other inherited diseases. She is also very transparent about what health clearances have been done and the results, posting health clearances for all her dogs on the individual bios of her website.
If you’ve ever met a golden, chances are you know what sweet and lovely dogs they tend to be. There is a reason goldens are such a popular choice for not only service dogs, but also devoted family pets. Temperament is another focus for Henne Goldens, with the dogs Jessica keeps to breed having that sweet and friendly disposition goldens are so well known for. She also puts much consideration into caring for the puppies she breeds, raising each litter in her home where they receive regular contact with her and her family. Puppy Culture, a popular puppy socialization protocol that includes Early Neurological Stimulation (ENS), is implemented while raising each litter to ensure that each puppy has well rounded experiences during critical developmental stages, and can be best prepared to meet their individual potential.
All of this has resulted in a breeding program that has been very successful placing many puppies who have gone on to become fully trained service dogs. In Compass Key there are numerous Henne Goldens, trained by our trainers and owner trained by clients under our guidance, who have passed through our program successfully. Currently, Compass Key has four Henne Goldens who are working with our trainers to go through the phases of the service dog training program, and being offered for sale to our clients.
And introducing. . . JUNIPER
In the next few blog posts, each of these dogs will get an individual profile piece so you can get to know them and learn more about their journey to become Compass Key service dogs. We’re excited for you to meet them!
If you have any questions in the meantime, please contact us!