The goal of the Service Dog Trainers Program is to provide hands-on and classroom learning, with one or more service dogs in training which will prepare the student for basic qualification to train service dogs or for future employment in the pet obedience industry. Participation in the curriculum provides students with the opportunity to experience knowledge-based education in all phases of the occupation, with an emphasis on the handling of service dogs in training and on providing people with disabilities enhanced independence through the use of a highly trained service dog. Hands-on training is conducted under the direct supervision and guidance of qualified professionals.  Classroom assignments include supplemental readings and videos that support hands-on learning.


Students are required to care for the dogs in training housed at the facility, learn care and maintenance in aspects of kennel management, and participate in outings and training activities for the dogs in training, community events, parades, photography sessions and activities involving the dogs in training that promote the mission and services of Canines for Service. 


After successful completion of the curriculum, students will be prepared to take certification exams with programs such as the International Association of Canine Professionals, Certification Council for Certified Dog Trainers and Assistance Dogs International.  All certification examinations and fees are the responsibility of the student. 

The US Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, has information on animal care and service workers available in their Occupational Outlook Handbook.

Learn to train service dogs


Training others to train, Canines for Service is preparing students for a future career in service dog training.  The Canines for Service Trainer's Program is a comprehensive curriculum providing hands-on experience in all phases of service dog training with major emphasis on providing people with disabilities enhanced independence through the use of a highly trained service dog.

The program is an assessment-based certification program providing education and training supporting the intended learning outcomes. 

After successful completion of the curriculum, students will be prepared to take certification exams with programs such as International Association of Canine Professionals, Certification Council for Certifed Dog Trainers and Assistance Dogs International.  All certification fees are the cost of the student. 


The Trainer Program is 18 months long, meeting 4 days a week for 6 hours each day.  In addition, students are required to assist with scheduled shifts caring for the service dogs in training and attend events and outings to ensure dogs in training meet the requirements for training as a service dog.


The curriculum is designed to be completed in 18 months. Students progress with their assigned service dog through Basic, Intermediate and Advanced level training and have the opportunity to enroll in an elective teaching module.  Students will learn about basic care and grooming of the service dogs in training, socialization training in the community through outings, and state and federal access laws. Advanced training includes an introduction to client services and may include participating in training with a client.


Each student’s attendance and progress is tracked and records are maintained. Evaluation of the student is accomplished through a series of knowledge tests and progress checks conducted at regular intervals. The progress checks are used for the student to understand how the service dog’s training is progressing and what commands or skills need further work. Completion of the course is centered on the actual training of a service dog for partnering with an approved client. The course is pass/fail based on mastery of the subject area.

An 8-week elective module can be added by the student to encompass student teaching. 

This curriculum is intended to provide a hands-on learning opportunity working with service dogs in training.  It does not focus of animal health or behavior outside of the needs related to the service dogs in training. 


Canines for Service uses the philosophy of scientific training or relationship training. Desired behaviors or skills are taught by rewarding the dog for the behavior wanted and not rewarding the dog for an undesired behavior.  This trusted and positive relationship between the trainer and the service dog in training is key to the success of the dog.


Skills are taught in a sequential manner with increasing complexity and building on the dog’s previous success.  Repetition and consistency are key to shaping the dog's behavior and building confidence in each skill.


We have long believed dominance training only intimidates the dog and does not set the dog up for long-term success. By using scientific training, the dog develops a desire to work for the handler.


Throughout the Trainers Program, we expose the students to various methods of dog training using video and published books to provide an overall education in the variation of dog training.  However, Canines for Service uses only the relationship-based training.  


The Canines for Service Trainers Program requires applicants to submit the following:

  • Canines for Service Trainers Program application and nonrefundable application fee

  • Proof of identity

  • Personal Essay: Maximum one-page essay explaining the student's interest and future goals related to the program of study and a description of the applicant's experience with dogs

  • Two letters of reference: one personal, one professional

  • Veterans only: copy of their DD-214 and a letter of recommendation from a sponsoring Veteran's organization

  • $50 nonrefundable application fee

You can make a difference


Vocational training in a specialized field is a choice.  There is only one 4-year college for training in the service dog industry. Other programs offer 1- to 6-week programs, which provide an introduction to service dog training or focus on one skill.  


The Canines for Service Trainers Program is a comprehensive hands-on curriculum that will provide skills for future employment. 


Fees are due as follows:


  • Application Fee (nonrefundable): due with application

  • Registration Fee: due within 15 business days of acceptance into the Trainers Program

  • Tuition, Support and Supplies Fee: One-third is due 15 business days prior to the first day of class; the balance is billed at two equally spaced intervals; a direct monthly debit may be set up with Canines for Service; please contact us.

Financial Aid

  • Financial aid is not available at this time. 

  • GI Benefits:  the Trainers Program is not eligible for Veterans G.I. Bill benefits at this time. 

  • Veterans may obtain sponsorship from other Veterans organizations.  


Refund Policy

  • The application fee and registration fee are not refundable. 

  • A student with a confirmed registration who cancels prior to the first day of the program will be eligible for a 100% tuition refund.  

  • Students who withdraw between Weeks 1 and 3  are eligible for a 75% tuition refund for that module. The application, registration, supplies and support fees are not refundable. 

  • Students are not eligible for refunds after Week 3. 

  • Students who choose to withdraw must do so in writing 30 days prior to the scheduled billing dates. 



  • Students are responsible for finding and securing their own housing for the duration of the Trainers Program.


221 Old Dairy Road, Unit 1
Wilmington NC 28405

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Canines for Service Inc. is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Contributions to Canines for Service Inc. are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by applicable law.  Tax identification number: 56-2118747

Canines for Service Inc., Canines for Veterans and Canines for Therapy are registered trademarks of Canines for Service Inc.  All rights reserved. 

©2018 Canines for Service Inc.