Where do you get your dogs?
Dogs entering our service dog training program come to us through many different avenues, including our own breeding program, donations from qualified breeders, pet homes, and rescue organizations. On occasion, C.H.A.M.P., Inc. has also purchased puppies for our program.
What breeds do you use, and what characteristics do you look for?
We use Labrador and Golden Retrievers (as do most service dog providers), Standard Poodles, crosses, and dogs of uncertain heritage. The most important qualities we look for in a dog, regardless of breed, are excellent health (including orthopedics), a friendly, intelligent personality, a strong work ethic and desire to please.
What about health requirements?
All of the dogs entering our service dog training program are screened for temperament and must pass a general good-health evaluation. C.H.A.M.P., Inc. uses the PennHIP evaluation process to screen all of our service dogs for hip abnormalities. Our service dogs are also screened for eye abnormalities. In addition, each dog is medically cleared for breed-specific health concerns. For instance, we routinely screen for elbow abnormalities in retrievers and retriever crosses and for heart abnormalities in certain breeds.
Health screenings are very expensive, but the expense is justified. Health screenings are an absolute necessity in ensuring each dog we place is mentally and physically able to perform the tasks required. The screenings occasionally remove an otherwise exceptional dog from the service dog program. It can be a heart-breaking decision to remove an animal from the program, but our primary concerns are for the well-being of both our dogs and their future partners.
Are the dogs spayed or neutered?
Yes! All C.H.A.M.P., Inc. service dogs are spayed or neutered.
How long can a service dog work?
Service dogs in good health often work until 10 to 12 years of age. A very high quality food, excellent veterinary care, exercise, grooming, and plenty of love and attention all help to increase the working life of a service dog.
Who owns the service dog?
C.H.A.M.P., Inc. maintains ownership of the service dog throughout the partnership of the team. A graduate is responsible for the service dog’s care and maintenance including food, toys, veterinary services and so on.
Can I choose the breed, sex or color of the service dog?
If your dog's breed/sex/color is more important to you than the service dog assistance skills and companionship he/she will provide, we suggest you explore other options.
I already have a dog and really like my dog. Can you train my dog to become my service dog?
No, we find it more successful to work with dogs already in our training program. These dogs have already passed our temperament requirements and our stringent health requirements, and we are able to match each particular dog's strengths to best fit our clients' needs.
How old are the dogs when they are matched to their partners?
Between 18 months and two years of age. However, our trainers are watching and evaluating our dogs throughout each stage of their growth and development.
How long does it take to train a service dog? How old are the dogs when placed?
C.H.A.M.P., Inc. places dogs in four categories of service (see Placement Catergories ). A dog with relatively fewer skills (such as a Home Therapy Dog) is generally trained in six months to one year's time, depending in part on the age of the dog when it enters our training program. A dog with more advanced skills (like a Home
Service Dog), can take longer, up to 18 months to train. A dog with highly advanced custom skills can take even longer to train. Regardless of the dog's required skill level, the minimum age for placement (at C.H.A.M.P., Inc.) is 18 months of age. Between two and three years old is more typical.
What happens to dogs that don't make it all the way through your training program?
Dogs may be released from our training program for a number of reasons. Oftentimes, the reasons are health-related; for instance, we typically use the PennHIP method to screen for potential hip problems when our puppies are 16 weeks of age. Puppies that don't pass this first major screening must be removed from the training program. Older puppies and dogs may be released following other health screenings or perhaps due to behavior and/or general temperament issues.
Some of these puppies and dogs will return to their breeder or to the families who donated them; others will be available for placement as Companion Animals. If you would like to be considered as a potential home for one of our released dogs, please Contact Us and we will send a Companion Animal Placement application for you to complete and return.
What happens to a service dog when he or she retires?
Retirement is an emotional time for both the human partner and the dog, after having worked so closely together for so many years. Retired service dogs are welcome to live out their retirement with their partner; some people may choose to allow a family member or close friend to adopt the retiree. If the graduate so chooses, C.H.A.M.P., Inc. can assist them in finding an appropriate retirement home for their friend's golden years.