Graduate Support Program
Canine Partners for Life is well respected for having one of the strongest follow-up programs in our industry. As an organization we feel that follow-up and support is what makes our teams strong and ensures the wellbeing of the graduate, service or companion dog, and the safety of the public. This sense of responsibility for the ongoing success of our teams means that we take our commitment to each team seriously and are willing to commit the resources necessary to ensure that each team has a long, loving and productive partnership. Our training staff are available to our graduates via email, phone or personal visits depending upon their needs.
Following graduation, graduates receive extensive support from the training staff including daily calls for the first week, weekly calls for the first month, and monthly calls for the first six months. Regular calls and written six month reports (including vet records, a rabies certificate, and a current dog license) continue the regular required follow-up. As comprehensive as training is, beginning life on your own partnered with a service dog is always exciting and challenging, but also filled with a million questions. We want to ensure that our teams are confident and well informed.
CPL also offers graduate support classes each month either on our campus or by Zoom. The classes are led by our training staff and offer the opportunity for our teams to practice their skills and share with other graduates. For the first year of a partnership, attendance at six of these classes is required (although if teams are distant they can complete this training with an approved trainer in their geographic area).
Certification and recertification are also an important part of our follow up program. Teams are certified before they graduate (taking a performance based evaluation at a local Walmart) and then are recertified every two years (more frequently if the evaluation highlights weak areas which need more focused training. Children younger than 18 are required to recertify annually until the age of 18). Recertification allows CPL to detect possible training needs and to discuss the current status of the team, answering any questions which the student may have, particularly those involving possible retirement of their canine partner. Recertification evaluations can be done by video for teams who are unable to travel to CPL.
The ongoing partnership with a service or companion dog is an evolving relationship. Canine Partners for Life is committed to providing support and follow up to our teams as they grow and change. To support that follow-up all graduates agree (by signing a transfer agreement) to provide regular reports and information to the organization on a set schedule and to complete their recertification evaluations by the given deadline. Extensions can be given for medical reasons if a doctor’s note is sent before the deadline and other extensions will also be considered if requested before deadlines. We ask our graduates to be respectful of our deadlines and expectations to reduce the resources needed to ensure compliance.