Dog Training

NEADS Dogs are trained to perform tasks and behave obediently through the use of positive reinforcement and clear leadership. We select dogs that are natural followers, so it is easy to guide them into choosing behaviors that we like in order to reward them.

Our dogs love to work. The behaviors we teach are inherently fun for them (like tugging on a rope or running to a sound), so the dogs learn to associate work with having a good time. As a puppy grows and learns, each positive experience influences future behaviors.

During early training, food is the primary reward that reinforces good behavior – this capitalizes on a common motivator for dogs. As time goes on, the food is reduced or replaced with other incentives so that the dog will work even when there is no food reward. Whether it’s a scratch on the chest or a chance to play ball, the dog knows that something good is coming. As a result, working is fun for both the dog and the human, which ensures a happy working relationship for many years to come.

NEADS dogs are taught a list of core commands, and they follow a basic training schedule throughout puppyhood. However, once a dog is nearing completion of the program and is matched with a specific client, the dog’s training is tailored to the client’s unique needs. After the client experiences 10-14 days of training with a skilled instructor, they can barely remember a time when the dog wasn’t a part of their life.

Our organization has trained Service Dog Teams for over 40 years. Through research and experience, our instructors remain up to date with current training methods and trends in the industry. We routinely explore new dog breeds and new tasks to make certain that we are meeting the needs of our clients. Most importantly, we raise and train the perfect working partner for each of our clients.

Assistance Dogs International Accreditation

NEADS is proud to be an active member of Assistance Dogs International (ADI), the internationally recognized governing body that establishes industry standards and practices. ADI provides accreditation for canine assistance organizations that meet a selective set of criteria, including standards of excellence in the acquisition, training, and partnership of Assistance Dogs. NEADS clients are expected to maintain the minimum standards that ADI sets.

Visit the ADI website for more information on current standards of training for Service Dogs and their partners.

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The Route to a Lasting Partnership

  • Bonnie (3)

    The Dogs

    Most NEADS dogs are purpose-bred for temperament, health and personality traits best suited for service dog work. Some NEADS Hearing Dogs are acquired from animal shelters and rescue groups.

  • Jean (l) Banks (r) 1

    Early Learning Center

    Here staff work to housebreak the puppies and lay the groundwork for some beginning commands. Puppies have indoor and outdoor playtime, one-on-one time with staff and volunteers, and socialization sessions.

  • prison pup

    Prison PUP Program

    90-95% of NEADS puppies are trained in 7 correctional facilities throughout New England.

  • dogs in training

    Dog Training

    NEADS Dogs are trained to perform tasks and behave obediently through the use of positive reinforcement and clear leadership. We select dogs that are natural followers, so it is easy to guide them into choosing appropriate behaviors.

  • matching process

    Matching Process

    The more we understand about your lifestyle and expectations, the better we can pair you with a dog that fits with you. The matching process includes an online application and a comprehensive, in-person interview.

  • the trainers

    Client Training

    Clients spend one to two weeks at the NEADS campus learning how to work and live with their new Service Dog. Our trainers work closely with the new partners to ensure the match is a strong one.

  • (042918 Fitchburg, MA) Derek Blake, 9 1/2 kisses his social dog Jean during NEADS service dog graduation ceremony in Fitchburg on Sunday,April 29, 2018. Staff Photo by Nancy Lane

    Graduation

    Twice each year, we honor our most recent Service Dog teams, celebrating the partnership between a client and his or her Service Dog.