Service Dog Training

    Top Paw Training develops teamwork between the handler and their psychiatric service dog to promote recovery and long-term independence through a personalized comprehensive training program. 

    Having a service dog is a helpful but only if your dog is well-trained and only if you have been well-educated on how to best put your service dog's skills to work for you. I have developed an affordable solution (less than $5000) to train psychiatric service dogs for reliable, practical use and education for handlers to promote teamwork and integration of your service dog into your daily life.

    I'm passionate about making sure you are working as a team with your service dog to promote your independence and recovery. 
    I began training psychiatric service dogs as a response to several handlers that needed urgent help. Let down by the other "service dog companies", their dogs were untrained (even after weeks of classes), unable to work (responsibly assist with their disability) for them on a daily basis and they received inadequate education on living with-, handling, or using their service dogs' skills. This was an unacceptable disservice- and I felt called to offer a solution with my services. 

    Having lived with a stress disorder myself, I know, firsthand, how your best friend can help you moderate and relieve symptoms of PTSD, anxiety, stress, environmental triggers, etc. throughout everyday life and in public places. Without the strong teamwork and support my program promotes, having a service dog can easily add more stress to your life, rather than help.

    I'll help you understand...

  • Exactly what psychiatric service dog can and can't do for you.  
  • How to live with your service dog and how your dog will fit into your life, especially with regards to family, friends and coworkers
  • How to know when you need or don't need your service dog to help you and how to use your service dog to promote your individual recovery.
  • How to deal with the public and ignorant people so that your service dog gives you freedom, not stress.
  • How to make sure your dog is having their needs met efficiently and is making responsible, independent choices while working for you so that you are not having to be a "pet butler".

    A service dog is not a pet, but rather, a working companion dog that is trained to do specific tasks for you. A dog can help with mobility and balance, can buffer environmental stressors in public places, can comfort during times of need, wake you during nightmares, alert you to rising stress levels throughout your day, patrol your home or public places as an extra set of eyes and ears and is a great constant friend that loves and listens unconditionally. The feeling of protection and security from the alerts, as well as the emotional support and companionship is amplified through working as a team, which is a priority of my program. 


   I'll support your dog's training, your handler skills, and integrating your dog into your family and life for the lifetime of the dog. Equipment, patches, useful tools and management guidelines are included in the program fees, which begin at $2500 for obedience training and service dog task skills. Grants are available. 

    Every program is custom to your life, needs, and dog. I have trained and verified ("certified") mobility service dogs for physical needs (injuries, wheelchair, paraplegic) psychiatric service dogs for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and anxiety

    The dogs I train are NOT emotional support dogs- they are true service dogs trained to alert to your specific needs and assist you in custom ways that improves your ability to live each day to the fullest. I train your service dog tasks that assist you with your disability, whether temporary or permanent. 

My foundation of my PSD program is similar to the Obedience Boarding School Program. >>Read More

More Info About Service Dog Access

       The ADA defines a service dog as one that has been trained tasks to provide assistance to an individual with a disability to help mitigate that disability, whether permanent or temporary. If they meet this definition, then the dog is considered service animals under the ADA regardless of whether they have been licensed or certified by a state or local government.  I work very hard to instill public access skills and task skills so your dog can work for you anywhere you take him. Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), privately owned businesses that serve the public, such as restaurants, hotels, retail stores, taxicabs, theaters, concert halls, and sports facilities, are prohibited from discriminating and requires these businesses to allow people to bring their service animals onto business premises in whatever areas customers are generally allowed. 

   There is no national or local certification required for service dogs, period. You are not required to identify your specific reason for having a service dog to a business or the public (it’s actually illegal for them to ask you or to require proof), only that your dog is assisting you as a medical alert dog for a disability and is trained, clean and safe. I'll teach you more about your rights and show you how to go out in public confidently with your service dog.

Acquiring a Dog to be a Service Dog 

   If you need a service dog, let's talk about your needs and go about picking a suitable dog, training your current pet or strengthening the teamwork between you and your current service animal. 

    If you do not have a dog, I can help with that too. We'll go over some pictures of dogs and see what interests you by appearance and discuss your desires for traits in a dog (certain breeds, size, coat type, nature). Then I pre-select several of the dogs for you before we go together to test which dogs have the makings of your service dog and which ones you feel a connection with. Once your dog is adopted, it goes straight into service dog training and begins its journey with you. This entire process can be as quick or as slow as you need it to be.

    I DO NOT RECOMMEND picking a service dog candidate out by yourself. Often dogs are picked for the wrong reasons or its hard to know what to look for. If you think you have picked the wrong dog already, please call me to evaluate and suggest what needs to be done to prevent breaking your bond.

Need help picking a service dog? Reach Alison at 830-557-7026