Service Dog Training and Education Program:
A student organization at the University of Pittsburgh dedicated to raising service dogs through Canine Companions for Independence
Our puppies are bred in Santa Rosa, California through Canine Companions for Independence. All puppies are Labradors, Golden Retrievers, or a mix of the two. At about eight weeks old, the pups are transported to their volunteer puppy raisers. Our campus pups are a part of the North Central Region.
The Puppy Raisers are responsible for teaching the pups the 31 basic commands and socialize them to various situations for about a year and a half. A college campus is a perfect place to expose pups to these different environments! Our urban restaurants, libraries, lecture halls, sports arenas, and music halls are all great opportunities that we have at our disposal.
When the puppies turn in for matriculation, they spend about six to nine months in professional training where they learn advanced commands to prepare for working as a service dog. Some dogs are released throughout this process but can be used for other types of working animals or as therapy dogs. After that, they go onto team training, where the puppies meet people who are their potential matches. During this time, people and puppies work with each other to try to find good pairs.
Finally comes the Canine Companions for Independence graduation. This is where the Puppy Raiser hands the leash off to their partner and they graduate as a team.