TOP DOG is committed to:
- Improving the lives of people with physical disabilities.
- Building self-esteem and independence through dog training.
- Educating ourselves and others about the human/dog relationship.
- The respect, support, and well-being of all people and dogs.
TOP DOG is 501(c)(3) non-profit organization based in Tucson, Arizona. Since 1987, we have been dedicated to teaching people with physical disabilities how to train their own dog to become a certified service dog who can perform a broad range of tasks that help make their life easier! Our unique series of instructional books and videos guide students through the entire training process, under our professional supervision.
To enroll for TOP DOG training, applicants must make a two-year commitment with the ultimate goal of achieving certification. Each year of the training is comprised of three 12-week sessions … each separated by a four week recess. New sessions start in January, May, and September each year and fill up quickly. It is preferable for applicants to reside in the greater Tucson area for the duration of training. Applicants living outside the greater Tucson area should enroll in our Online Training Course. All applicants must be willing and able to provide nutritional food, proper medical care, a fenced yard, and adequate exercise space for their dogs. All dogs must be spayed or neutered.
The first session is the Beginner Class where students learn the basics of obedience and canine behavior. The Beginner Class is generally limited to five owner-dog-teams to ensure that each team receives the individual attention they need throughout the program. The second session is the Intermediate Class where students perfect basic obedience with added distractions and start learning service exercises. In this session, students also begin taking their dogs into public places under supervision.
All students must pass the ADI Public Access Test to move into the Advanced Class. In advanced sessions, students work toward certification as a TOP DOG team. They learn many useful service exercises which vary depending on each student’s needs. These exercises include, but are not limited to, picking up dropped objects, helping the person get dressed, assisting in rising from a chair, retrieving a telephone, and turning lights on and off.
Each TOP DOG team is assigned a Training Assistant (TA), a volunteer helper who meets weekly with the student throughout the program, to advise and offer encouragement. Our TA’s attend an extensive training course, so they are qualified and well prepared to coach, mentor, and advise a student who is training their dog.