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group of four service dogs sitting in line on beach


Our Training Process

yellow lab puppy in assistance training vest being held by staff member

Birth to 3 weeks


Neurological stimulation and stress control conditioning involves exposing the Puppies to a series of different stimuli, postures, physical restrictions, physical stimulation, and so on for the first three weeks.

3-20 weeks

Puppy Development

Here, the focus shifts on intense socialization and exposure for the Puppies. It is widely accepted within dog training and psychology that the first 16 weeks of a puppy’s life have a permanent impact on their temperament, psyche, and trainability.

black lab puppy in assistance dog in training vest sitting on beach looking up
black lab assistance dog with handler walking on beach

5-15 months

Obedience and Skills Training

Specially trained Inmate Trainers at 3 West Virginia prisons are chosen to train Dogs in basic and advanced obedience skills.

12 months


paws4prisons®️ Program

A “Bump” is the process of a dog choosing their partner from our selected Potential Clients.

two golden retriever assistance dogs touching noses on the beach with two handlers
dog-training at UNCW with paws4people

16-24 months

Public Access or Facility-Based Training

During this stage of training, paws4people trainers certified in Public Access Training take Dogs to many different environments such as restaurants, retail stores, movie theaters, public transportation, etc. as part of their public access training.

18-24 months

Client or Handler Transfer Training

Within the paws4people and paws4vets Programs, the process of a Conditional Client learning to utilize their Assistance Dog to control, regulate, and mitigateSM their symptoms is known as Intervention Transfer TrainingSM (ITT).

yellow lab assistance dog in service vest sitting on beach shaking paw with handler
golden retriever service dog in vest standing next to handler in wheelchair


Black and Red or Green Vest Testing

Upon Black Vesting, the Client or Handler receives custody of the Dog. We liken this to their “Learner’s Permit.”



Dog Goes Home with Client or Handler

Dogs are owned by the organization for the duration of their career, and are placed with the Client or Handler on a custody basis.

group of four assistance dogs in service vests with group of five handlers