Be A Trainer: Frequently Asked Questions

How does someone become a TLCAD Volunteer Service Dog Trainer?

To become a trainer you will need to have a love for dogs and have a passion for working with them AND wanting to help others with limited abilities on a volunteer basis. First, review our website, and complete the Volunteer Trainer Interest Questionnaire . Pending your eligibility (e.g. 18 years or older and live in San Diego County), you will be invited to attend our Volunteer Workshop (offered in 2 parts, held the 1st and 3rd Saturday of each month). After completing our Volunteer Workshop, a TLCAD staff member will conduct a home visit to ensure your home is safe and appropriate for training a Service Dog. Prior to receiving a Service Dog in training, a TLCAD staff member will conduct a minimum of four 1:1 training sessions with you as well as administer a Public Access Test to ensure you can safely and effectively handle and train our dogs in public settings.

Please Note: This does not guarantee that you will receive a puppy to train when you have completed the course. Your suitability as a TLCAD Service Dog Trainer will continue to be assessed during the 'hands on' experiences with our dogs.

How does someone learn more about TLCAD?

The best way to learn more about Tender Loving Canines Assistance Dogs, Inc. (TLCAD) is to check out our website, our Facebook page and YouTube channel.

Does a volunteer need dog training experience?

No. If a volunteer is accepted by TLCAD, they will be expected to participate in the TTC. This will provide them with a foundation for TLCAD Service Dog training. Topics will include Service Dog laws, training methods, clicker skills, preventing behavior problems and more. Classes will be held at The Spirit Training Center, Home of TLCAD at 1250 Activity Dr. Suite A, Vista, CA 92081.

What if the volunteer works or goes to school?

Students have Public Access Rights to train a Service Dog-In-Training on campus as long as the dog behaves in an acceptable manner. Work is a different matter. The volunteer trainer will need written permission by the proper authority to take the Service Dog-In-Training with you to work.

What if there is a "no pets" policy where the volunteer lives?

Service Dogs-In-Training are a legal exception. They have the same rights in California as working Service Dogs. However, if the Service Dog-In-Training is responsible for any damage, this is the TLCAD Volunteer Trainer's responsibility to repair, not the landlord.

When does a volunteer get to train a TLCAD Service Dog-In-Training?

Once a volunteer completes the curriculum and has attended eight 1-hour Saturday classes, experienced some hands on dog experience and has been screened/assessed as meeting our Service Dog training standards and expectations, they may be assigned a TLCAD Service Dog-In-Training once one becomes available.

Does the volunteer get to pick the breed of dog they want to train?

Not usually. However, if there are particular concerns and requirements, we will attempt to accommodate the volunteer's needs.

How long will the volunteer have the TLCAD Service Dog-In-Training?

Our program requires up to a two-year commitment depending on the age and experience of the dog. Throughout the two-year process the volunteer will help develop a puppy into a wonderful Service Dog under the direction of the TLCAD Training Department. There are times in a dog's training that it may need to be moved to another trainer. These situations will be determined and handled by the Training Department staff.

If the volunteer is found suited to be a TLCAD Volunteer Service Dog Trainer, what are my responsibilities?

First and foremost, TLCAD Volunteer Trainers are expected to be good stewards of our dogs. You will also be expected to attend training classes, any additional independent sessions and to produce monthly training reports on the dog you are training. Each TLCAD Volunteer Trainer will make themselves intimately familiar with the TLCAD curriculum.

You will work closely with an assigned Training Mentor who will help you remain focused and work to accomplish the training plan for your particular dog. You will understand and uphold the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) legislation, California State legislation and Assistance Dogs International (ADI) requirements of an Assistance Dog – which is part of the TCC curriculum.

A TLCAD Volunteer Trainer's responsibilities also include upholding the Mission of TLCAD, abiding by its Policies & Guidelines, as well as looking out for the welfare and training of their assigned dog at all times. TLCAD Volunteer Trainers must remain dedicated, patient and have fun training Service Dogs in order to be successful. Their goal will be to turn out a well-trained and well-behaved Service Dog, educate others and uphold the reputation and standards of TLCAD. This may appear daunting, but because we have so much fun, the final placement of the Service Dog appears to come fast and is immensely rewarding.

What if the TLCAD Volunteer Trainer does not have the money to pay for food or veterinary bills?

TLCAD presently pays for dog food, training equipment and veterinary expenses for our Service Dog-In-Training.

What if the TLCAD Volunteer Trainer does not have reliable transportation?

This could be a problem. Please contact the office for discussion.

What if the TLCAD Volunteer Trainer has pets already?

This may not be a problem and would be considered on a case-by-case basis. It will depend on how many and what type of pets you have and their behavior. Many of our Trainers have pet dog(s). The puppy you will be training will have different household rules than most pet dogs, so you may need to teach your dog our household rules. A puppy is capable of making adjustments easily and TLCAD gives recommendations for your present pet's behavior. If your pet(s) cannot tolerate a puppy, or their behavior is considered undesirable for a TLCAD puppy to be associated with, we will not place a dog in the home at that time. It is possible to retrain the dog if you so desire and are consistent and dedicated in doing this, whereby our decision would be reconsidered.

How much time will it take a Week?

The training can be done 'on the fly' at work, home or in public. The dog can "Down"/"Stay" by the volunteer's desk, walk beside them on a "Heel" or "Side" while the volunteer walks from one area to another. The dog can learn to not react to outside distractions when the volunteer is on lunch break. When on a break or lunch hour – the volunteer can incorporate small short training sessions – their Training Mentor will assist them with this plan. A young dog learns with short and frequent training sessions – a small part of a day.

However, a new puppy is like adding a toddler to a home. Even though volunteers will be taught how to successfully train 'on the fly' and successfully crate the dog for down time, they will still have a living being added to your already busy schedule. It is also a priority that the volunteer and their Training Mentor attends the Saturday and a weekly session(s) in order to train effectively and for the Service Dog-In-Training to move forward in its training.

Can the training volunteer co-train a dog with another TLCAD Service Dog Trainer?

This is possible, but only with the Training Department's permission. This is decided on an individual basis depending on the Dog and Trainers involved.

Can I dog-sit as needed instead of train full time?

Of course, and this is a good way to get introduced to the Service Dog world. You must first fill out the Dog Sitter Application. After we receive your application you will be invited to attend TLCAD's Dog Sitter Workshop (DSW). This workshop will go over basic cues, safety and laws, as well as providing information on our programs, before a volunteer will dog sit for one of our dogs. The volunteer will not be allowed to take the dog vested in public since you are not certified as a TLCAD Service Dog Trainer, it is against the law. However, they can take the dog for walks around their neighborhood if this is a safe environment. Allowing a TLCAD Dog-In-Training to visit with other dogs is strongly discouraged when it is in your care unless you have been instructed otherwise.