Team Training

All service dog students are required to attend TLCAD’s Team Training. TLCAD’s 3–phase Team Training model prepares clients to effectively utilize a service dog to mitigate the symptoms of their disability and increase independence in all environments. Team Training currently takes place up to four times per year.

TEAM TRAINING (1): Foundation Training Workshops

Requires that the student attends Foundation Training Workshops in an online classroom setting.

Foundation Training Workshops are designed to: 

  • Orient students to their service dog and life with a service dog. 

  • Teach students TLCAD training methods to maintain and build upon their dog’s skills. 

  • Prepare students to utilize their service dog at home and in the community.  

TEAM TRAINING (2): Skills Training Class

Requires that the student travels to and resides at a training campus (at their own expense) located in the Los Angeles area, for five days of intensive training.   

Skills Training Class is designed to: 

  • Teach students their dog’s trained foundation and custom cues. 

  • Teach students handling skills needed to utilize their service dog. 

  • Develop the bond between the dog and student. 

  • Prepare students to pass a Public Access Test and successfully navigate the community with their service dog. 


TEAM TRAINING (3): Adjustment & Bonding

After Skills Training Class, the student returns home with their dog where they spend two weeks adjusting to home life.  Students must attend a phone meeting each week during the Adjustment & Bonding period. 

Adjustment & Bonding is designed to: 

  • Allow for adjustment to home life routines and integrate with family members. 

  • Facilitate  bonding. 

  • Ensure the successful transfer of the dog’s skills to the home environment. 



After completing all three phases of Team Training, clients continue their journey with their service dog with the support of TLCAD staff, who follow up with them on a monthly basis for six months post-placement and annually thereafter for the working life of the dog. TLCAD staff are also available for training and support on an as-needed basis. 

During Month 3-4 of the placement, TLCAD staff will conduct an individual training session with the client in their home and in the community to ensure the success of the team in all environments. See below for additional information on Facility Training.   

Training in the home is designed to: 

  • Fine-tune the transfer of the dog’s skills in the home. 

  • Assist in establishing routines, custom household rules, and behavior plans to set the service dog team up for success. 

Training in the community is designed to:  

  • Ensure client’s ability to utilize their service dog to mitigate their disability and increase their independence in public and pass a Public Access Test. 



Graduation is an exciting time to celebrate the service dog team, volunteers and incarcerated trainers.   

After Team Training, the service dog team is required to attend a graduation ceremony at the correctional institution from which their dog was trained. Click HERE for details on our service dog training program.  Graduations are held once a year per institution, so the graduation date may not coincide with Team Training. The client is responsible for all costs related to traveling to the correctional facility from which their service dog was trained for Graduation (either in San Diego or Ione, CA). 


Facility Training

Following Skills Training Class, TLCAD staff work with the team at their facility for up to a week (days and training hours vary based on the type of facility and facilitator role). If the facility is located outside of San Diego County or outside of a 120-mile radius of Ione, CA, the client is responsible to cover the cost of travel, hotel lodging and per diem expenses for the TLCAD staff for the duration of Facility Training.  

Facility Training is designed to:   

  • Ensure the successful transfer of the dog’s  skills to the facility.

  • Teach clients how to utilize their dog to provide animal assisted intervention/therapy to the facility population. 

  • Educate facility staff about the role and rules regarding the facility dog.