Most of the Service Dogs Schools in the US breed their own dogs to enhance desirable traits and the health and longevity of the dogs. Even with careful, sophisticated breeding and genetics techniques used, there’s a graduation rate of only 30-40% of their dogs.
Meanwhile, there’s a huge overpopulation of dogs in the US, with 3.9 Million of them entering shelters each year. About 1.2 Million of them are euthanized each year. (statistics provided by ASPCA). Putnam Service Dogs will use shelter and rescue group dogs to help contribute to the solution of dog overpopulation in this country.
A Rare Type of Dog
Service Dogs are a rare type of dog, almost not a dog, as service dog trainers say. Service Dogs have to be confident so they’re not easily startled or spooked. They have to be focused, with a strong work ethic – willing to focus on their handler to the exclusion of other dogs, nap time, and other diversions. They’re taught to pee and poop on cue, not to use it to mark territory. Dogs serving recipients with physical disabilities other than blindness have to be calm, low energy, and very trainable.
Unfortunately, smart dogs tend to be high energy, and low energy dogs tend to be not very trainable. Service dogs can not be aggressive, either with other dogs or people. They need a low prey drive. Most Service Dog Schools use labs and retrievers, and/or a mix of the 2 breeds, as they have the highest success rate of graduating as service dogs. Hearing assistance dogs tend to be smaller, and higher energy – always on alert for sounds. They’re commonly terriers.
Putnam Service Dogs is committed to training any promising dog, regardless of its breed. We will search for young dogs in shelters and rescue groups, that exhibit the necessary traits. Dogs selected by Putnam Service Dogs that don’t prove to be suitable to become service dogs will be carefully adopted out by the staff. These dogs’ attractiveness as pets will be improved by the socialization and training they have received from volunteers and training staff at Putnam Service Dogs.
Putnam Service Dogs will enhance the lives of the shelter dogs it carefully selects, as well as the lives of their Service Dog Recipients and their families. On average, we need to assess 9 or 10 potential dogs for us to find one with the temperament and size we’re looking for. Even with our very focused assessments, we are releasing about 1/3 of our dogs before graduation. A service dog is a very rare, valuable dog!