An onsite day program three days/week (Tues, Weds, Thurs) is provided on-site so the Soul Dogs, Inc. resident dog trainers may teach the dogs and our train-the-trainer participants the necessary skills to train dogs in basic obedience, as well as emotional support and service functionality. Our goal is for each participant to attain his/her/their maximum functional level, or to be supported in a way allowing him/her/them to gain an increased level of self-sufficiency. We believe dogs are a vital piece for these individuals to feel safer and less alone so they may better access the community.
Services will include assistance with self-care, sensory stimulation and reduction of alarm to sensory stimulation, as well as reinforce skills taught in this program. The dogs will be taught the skills needed to mitigate the symptomology associated with PTSD. For example, the dog can interrupt panic attacks, remind the individual to take medication, create a barrier in public if the person feels crowded, and aid in hyper-vigilance by clearing dark rooms and turning on lights, and reducing social anxiety by having a partner in the community that they trust. Participants may choose to become involved in the train-the-trainer program where they will learn to train dogs; at the end of the program they may choose to teach classes to community members under the guidance of Soul Dogs, Inc.’s trainers/staff.
Skills necessary, such as dog training, dog grooming and feeding, veterinary care, CPR/First Aid, etc. is taught in the on-site train-the-trainer program to participants in a way they may integrate so they understand the necessity of caring for their animal partner; additionally specialized classes will be taught by local professionals, and the staff frequently host group discussions that relate the teachings done with our dogs to the teachings we follow in our everyday lives.
The train-the-trainer program is located next to a park, a training area, across the street from a strip mall with numerous stores, restaurants, health club, etc. Additionally, the train-the-trainer program partners with local businesses in the animal industry to learn more ways to care for our pets. The train-the-trainer program spends approximately 25-50% of their time in the community. The rest of the time is spent learning and training at the day program.
Supported community connections will be a part of the train-the-trainer program each day, taking the dog-participant teams into the community to practice skills learned in the onsite program as indicated above. SCC supports the abilities and skills necessary to enable the participant to access typical activities and functions of community life with the support of their animal partner. These activities occur in the community where our participants interact with non-disabled individuals and learn how to ask for help and navigate daily activities of the “typical” population, such as grocery stores, big box stores, restaurants, banks, parks, etc. These activities encourage socialization with the general community and learning how to answer questions about their dogs and the purpose for the dog. It will also enable us, as support persons, to understand what the training needs are to better support the individual.
Outings may include, but are not limited to: libraries, grocery stores, big box stores, 16th Street Mall, restaurants, public transportation, museums, the airport, local small concerts, street fairs, dog parks, parks, classrooms at the local community college, etc. The goal is to teach skills in the community, retain and improve on skills learned in day habilitation, feel safer and more comfortable in the community, and be a better dog caretaker.