What We Do
Service Dog Project Inc. is the culmination of Founder Carlene White’s 30 years of experience with animal training and a lifelong dream to assist the disabled population through the aide of service dogs. Service Dog Project has trained and donated 190 certified Great Dane service dogs to individuals who have difficulty with their balance and mobility.
Our Great Danes are bred, born, raised, and trained on SDP's farm and for the first month are watched 24/7 by staff and/or volunteers. Once the dogs are fully trained (usually a year or older) they are paired with a recipient and are then trained to meet the recipient's exact needs. As balance dogs they are taught to be steady in harness and match their gait to the handler’s speed. The dogs also learn to halt and brace in case the handler should fall and require assistance to stand.
Breeding for size and temperament
SDP imports bloodlines from Europe because of their fuller body type. All breeding dogs are obedience trained. Some are out working as therapy dogs.
Pups are handled from birth and notes are taken on their markings, personality and disposition. At around ten days old each pup is fed a very small quantity of goat’s milk along with their mother’s milk. The pups are handled and weighed regularly. Once they start solid puppy food each pup is given their own dish and are NEVER allowed to push and shove for food. Food aggression is not allowed. Spoon feeding is done in the group to learn names and manners. Treats are given to one dog at a time as their name is called.
At three months the pups are moved to a heated/air conditioned puppy house where they have access to the outdoors. At this time they are still under the watchful eye of staff or volunteers. Slowly the litter is separated and the pups are moved to other kennels on the property. All kennels have access to runs for the dogs to go outside to exercise.
Training for Balance
As balance or walker dogs they learn to be steady in harness and to match their gait to the handler’s speed. They learn to halt and brace in case the handler should fall and to stand still so the handler can use the harness to pull themselves up. They learn to turn right and left and to ease themselves through doorways, elevators, aisles, checkout counters, under restaurant tables, etc. The dogs learn to concentrate amid distractions such as lively children, meat counters, squirrels and other daily encounters. They should be able to relax and fall asleep almost anywhere, e.g., meetings, movies, lectures, work, etc.
By one year the dogs should be 'Canine Good Citizens' with a firm base of obedience, both on and off lead, and should accept anything the general public has to offer.
We have a very low percentage of 'Perfect Pets' but when we do they are adopted by caring people who are usually our staff or volunteers.
Matching You with a Service Dog that Meets Your Needs
Upon matching, the dogs are trained to learn the individualized tasks needed for each recipient. For example a Parkinson's patient who has a problem with 'freezes' can be helped to walk if the dog is taught to touch the foot or ankle. This simple action breaks the freeze and the person can then walk on.