Welcome to Bulldogs for Soldiers! Congratulations on your decision to embark on this wonderful opportunity to make a dear friend who will help you in so many ways on your path to healing.
Bulldogs for Soldiers was started to give something back to those of you who selflessly fought for our country and the freedom of all Americans.
Tragically, so many soldiers are returning home suffering the debilitating effects of PTSD and/or TBI. This affects their lives drastically in so many ways. Most commonly soldiers suffer panic attacks, flashbacks, nightmares and difficulties expressing emotion including inability to display love and affection to their own families.
The use of dogs to help soldiers cope with these debilitating symptoms is something relatively new but sofar the positive results are virtually 100% conclusive.
Soldiers paired with dogs are able to relearn to share affection, trust and begin to reintegrate into society and even enjoy going out into public again. Anxiety is decreased and often eliminated.
Your service dog will become your new best friend. He or she depends on you to love and care for them while at the same time offering unconditional and non-judgemental love and devotion.
How the Puppy Program Works
Your Bulldog puppy was carefully chosen from a litter of quality bred Bulldog lines. Not every Bulldog is a good service dog candidate but you can rest assured that the dog chosen for you is the best of the best.
Your Bulldog puppy was raised indoors in a family environment and exposed to many different stimuli and situations.
He or she has been given all of his or her vaccinations, taken on car rides and crate trained.
We've raised them on a high quality diet and carefully implicated housebreaking rules.
The idea of our Puppy Program is to allow you to raise your own service dog to foster the strongest bond possible.
When you take your pup home it is your responsibility to rear and socialize them in order to prepare them for work as your service dog.
Ensuring they are well cared for and veterinary issues are tended to immediately are a must.
The helping Paws Project and Bulldogs for Soldiers can help with resources for low cost veterinary care, spaying and neutering, resources for assistance in helping offset costs of care, legal resources and much more can be arranged.
You should begin taking your service dog puppy everywhere you go whenever possible. Once you receive your dog's uniform you'll want to begin taking them into public to begin training them in appropriate public access skills.
When your dog is in uniform they are on duty and ABSOLUTELY no one, including your own family members should talk to or try to pet them.
Carry a spray bottle with you wherever you go when your dog is on duty. A prompt, quick squirt in the nose will be discipline for behaviors such as sniffing displays or people. At first, your puppy will want to seek attention from people and discipline MUST be consistently enforced. Any attempt to greet or seek attention, even simply focusing on a person rather than you, the handler, must be discouraged. Even if it is a persons fault that your dog's attention is on them, your dog will be disciplined. This will happen! As much as you may feel like squirting the person instead, your dog MUST learn he or she needs to avoid all other people (and distractions) while on duty.
On the contrary, carry treats with you as well and be generous in rewarding your dog's focus on you.
Only when the uniform comes off is your dog permitted to "be a dog" and socialize.
In addition to public access training, you will be introducing the basic obedience commands. These should be practiced daily as many times as possible, but only in short sessions lasting no longer than 5 or 10 minutes at a time. Also, look for opportunities throughout the day to practice commands.
The basic commands you will begin teaching include, but are not limited to:
- Name/watch me
- Target (nose or paw)
- Automatic sit at Halt ("Auto-sit")
- Uh-oh (correction)
- Eliminate on cue
Training is always done using positive methods. There is no excuse for bullying, intimidation or physical punishment. There is also absolutely no need to have to yell at your dog. Instead we teach our dogs what we DO expect from them from the beginning.
90% of training should be done by the handler of the service dog.
Training begins in the form of hand signals and most commands MUST be taught silently at first. Trying to teach the verbal cue before teaching the actual behavior can confuse your puppy and can drastically damage and slow the training process down.
Formal training will begin depending on the individual needs of the dog and handler. Generally between the ages of 9-12 months your puppy will return to the trainer for 4 weeks of intensive training. As much handler participation as possible is recommended. Ideally, handlers are asked to come weekly to work with the dog and trainer and if the handler can come more often we are always glad to work with you!
Upon completion of the 4 week program the dog/handler team will become a fully certified service dog team.
During puppy raising, close contact must be maintained with your trainer.
A weekly progress report is required for the first month and subsequent months will require a bi-monthly report that can be submitted by mail or e-mail.
Phone and/or e-mail contact is welcome and encouraged. Also, we are willing to meet for a session at any time during this period and anytime in the future for life.
Handlers must notify their trainer immediately of ANY issues in behavior or otherwise no matter how small or trivial it seems. Remember, small issues can quickly spiral into large and unmanageable ones!
It is highly recommended you order you puppy's uniform within 2 weeks of taking your puppy home.
The basic uniform consists of:
□ Vest (color choice of blue, green or camo)
□ "In-training" button or patch
Official Photo ID Badge
An official photo ID badge is not necessary s but highly recommended to help avoid the frustration of access challenges.