Since 1998, Tender Loving Canines has served the San Diego area, training Service Dogs for individuals with disabilities. TLCAD currently trains and places Service Dogs individuals with autism and Wounded Warriors (veterans and active duty service members suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury, and/ or mobility-limitations). This is a big job for a dog, so volunteers train each dog for 18 months before they’re ready to work independently with their forever humans.
Not just any dog can be trained to help any human — this isn’t a one-size-fits-all shop. During the training process, dogs present their natural talents and temperaments, and Tender Loving Canines uses their expertise to assign the right dog to the right individual, based on their unique needs. When the Service Dog in Training has finished up their basic and customized training with their volunteer trainer, the dog then begins the placement process with an individual with autism or Wounded Warrior. TLCAD staff and volunteers train with clients for four to six months. In that time, human and Service Dog put their new relationship to the test in different environments (home, work, out in public), so they learn one another’s rhythms. This process maximizes the client’s use of their Service Dog- helping them to achieve independence in all areas of their lives.
Using a Service Dog has been proven enormously effective in elevating the quality of life for people living with a mental or physical disability. The companionship and assistance of a Service Dog can help mitigate depression and anxiety, reduce the need for medication, increase focus, and help the individual feel more comfortable living and working in society.
Serving as a volunteer assistance dog trainer is a rewarding way for dog lovers to make a difference in their community. Dog training is a big time commitment, so Tender Loving Canines Assistance Dogs is always looking for interested, enthusiastic volunteers who have the time and desire to devote to training these helpful animals. Potential trainers go through a free 8-week Trainer Training Course prior to receiving a Service Dog in Training, so they can learn about positive reinforcement training methods and the commitment as well as reward of training a Service Dog for an individual with autism or Wounded Warrior.
A good way to find out if training Service Dogs or volunteering for TLCAD is for you is by visiting TLCAD’s website to learn how to volunteer at http://www.tenderlovingcanines.org/ways-to-give/give-time.aspx
In the future, Tender Loving Canines Assistance Dogs hopes to expand their At Ease (Wounded Warrior) and Leash-On-Life (autism) programs to be able to help more individuals that would benefit from a Service Dog in their lives. To do so, they need your help to raise $125,000 toward this goal. Check out TenderLovingCanines.org today to donate! Your donation will help Tender Loving Canines Assistance Dogs train more Service Dogs, to help more individuals with autism and Wounded Warriors in San Diego County.