Visit our home, and we’ll visit yours
Receiving an autism service dog requires more than learning how to give commands. The dog will become a new member of your family, and each family is unique. For this reason, ASDA does both off-site training at our headquarters in Oregon, and in-site training at your home, wherever you live.
Phase One: Training at ASDA headquarters
The first phase of training requires the child’s principal caregiver to travel to Oregon, where they will spend seven days in training at ASDA headquarters. The dog will be with this person during the evenings so that both can work on establishing a relationship. The principal caregiver is defined as the parent who spends the most time with the child, and this is the person who needs to establish the primary bond with and authority over the dog.
If the other spouse wishes to attend, we ask that they do not engage the dog in any way, and serve as an observer only. But we really prefer that this person waits until the second phase of training, where they will also be trained in accordance to ASDA standards. Even if both parents spend an equal amount of time with their child, one will need to establish authority with the dog first. We’ve found this format to be consistently successful.
Phase Two: Welcoming the service dog home
Next, the dog returns with the principal caregiver to its new home. The next two weeks are spent adjusting to the new home and integrating into the family. These two weeks are crucial for bonding, so no in-pack training or tethering is done during this time.
Phase Three: Our trainer visits
After the two week adjustment period, an ASDA trainer arrives to work with the family for seven days in their hometown. (Our trainers stay in a nearby hotel.) Now the specific needs of the child and family are addressed, and the service dog is fine-tuned to the family’s routine. The tethering process begins, and the trainer visits all places the family, child, and dog will need to navigate together, such as schools, parks, stores, etc.