Service Dog Express was founded to provide the training of Service Dogs for wounded warriors/veterans with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and civilians with psychiatric disabilities such as PTSD, anxiety, depression, manic depression, etc. We also train Service Dogs clients with epilepsy, diabetes, hearing, mobility impairments, and medical alert needs.
We believe that the animal-human bond is an absolutely indisputable part of emotional, mental, spiritual, and physical healing. We seek to make this healing available to everyone, regardless of financial or other challenges that might discourage them from seeking this invaluable resource. Service Dog Express also prides itself on the fact that we work solely with professionally-assessed rescue dogs living in shelters or foster homes, thus reducing the euthanization rates that exist. However, if a client truly insists on getting a dog from a breeder or has a bond with their own dog, we are always happy to oblige their requests.
Service Dog Express began in San Antonio, which is considered “Military City, USA”, where there are many wounded warriors/veterans that Service Dog Express knew could greatly benefit from the assistance of a properly trained Service Dog. As our business grew, we expanded to include civilians. Service Dog Express offers their professional and compassionate services to not only San Antonio area clients, but to those in Austin, Central Texas, Dallas-Fort Worth, Wichita Falls, El Paso, Houston, South-central New Mexico. In accordance with recent Americans with Disabilities Act guidelines, we offer self-training assistance to clients who are not located near a trainer and choose to train their own dog.
Many Service Dog organizations that exist throughout the country offer excellent quality dogs, but they are far from San Antonio and end up costing the clients waiting periods of up to 2 years and thousands of dollars for the Service Dogs and travel. These organizations have well-trained Service Dogs, but they have been trained independent of the handler, thus lessening the bond that Service Dog Express believes is integral in the development of a cohesive, well-functioning client/dog pair. All clients of Service Dog Express are trained by one of our many trainers in personalized sessions with the dog to ensure that the learning experience strengthens the bond between the client and their dog.
To paraphrase: Service Dog Express is different in that we prefer to work with the client who either: 1) already has a dog with whom they have an established bond or 2) we have assisted in choosing a dog from a local shelter, rescue group, or breeder, or 3) chooses from our 'Available Assessed Dogs' located at www.servicedogexpress.com.This greatly decreases the cost to the client and training can begin quickly. We generally have no waiting list periods.
We are happy to consult on whether the client's dog has potential to be a Service Dog. The dog must be already in the client's possession before training begins. Service Dog Express has 16 trainers who are highly experienced in assessing dogs for temperament and trainability to ensure a successful outcome.
At Service Dog Express, we first meet with the client and the dog at their home. We assess the client’s specific needs. Then, training begins soon thereafter. Training is given at a very reasonable hourly rate. We do in-home training at first so that the dog and client are first introduced to the trainer in their comfort zone. Then, training is taken out into the public arena so that the client and Service Dog learn to adjust to many different public settings. The goal is to reduce client stress and help them reintegrate into society to become fully functioning, productive people with purpose and confidence.
All Service Dogs and clients are trained to pass the Public Access Test as dictated by Assistance Dogs International (ADI). Once these basic commands are perfected, we train the Service Dogs to address specific needs of the client. For example, many wounded warriors or civilians with PTSD suffer from night terrors. We work with the Service Dogs so that they immediately sense when the client is having a night terror and the Service Dog can alert the client to be quickly awakened and reoriented to current space and time.
Dogs are taught to sense when clients are experiencing panic in or out of the home, and they alert the client to this change in mood. The dogs do this by physically providing a “shield” (COVER) either in front of or behind the client to make them feel protected through training. The dogs also nudge their clients or alert them in other tactile ways so that the client uses the dog as a comforting presence, stroking the dog or talking to the dog gently. Our mobility service dogs are trained to work with wheelchair-bound clients, those with instability while walking, etc. Our diabetes detection dogs are trained to alert clients to changes in sugar levels and alert, and our epilepsy detection dogs are trained to either alert to oncoming seizures, protect clients during a seizure, and alert others when a seizure occurs.
Updated vaccination records are a must for the dog, as is monthly heartworm and flea/tick prevention. The future Service Dog must have a veterinarian that they have or will work with regularly should the need come up. We have a special partnership with a veterinarian in San Antonio that works with the majority of our Service Dogs and offers 25% discounts for all treatment.
It is of utmost importance that the client understands the necessity of working with the dog between training sessions. Clients are expected to train daily with their dogs by following the homework given by the trainer at each session.
Service Dog Express also does many educational programs for public and private schools, local Girl/Boy Scout groups, and any other organizations that are interested in learning more about Service Dogs. We provide answers to any questions clients might have regarding access rights, Service Dogs in the workplace, in apartments, and in places of business. Clients are also guided through the process of getting the proper vests and harnesses for their dog, and how to respond to questions or requests from people in the public who are interested in their Service Dog.
Our CEO completed four years of graduate study to receive her MS at Bergin University for Canine Studies, the only ADI-accredited Service Dog training university in the United States offering graduate degrees. She also attended additional training at East Coast Assistance Dogs in Dobbs Ferry, N.Y., also ADI-accredited.
Service Dog Express is BBB accredited and a member of The Greater San Antonio Chamber of Commerce, and has received many awards for Service in the community and congratulatory letters from State Senators and Congressmen for their work.