Each Smoky Mountain Service Dog puppy is hand selected by our trainers and the majority will come from reputable breeders. Appropriate shelter/rescue dogs may also be considered. The puppy is then placed in a qualified puppy raiser home where it is taught socialization skills, basic obedience and is given the chance to experience such activities as shopping, traveling, and other various outings. Trainers meet regularly with puppy raisers to reinforce basic skills and develop more advanced skills. Puppies are continually monitored and cared for by a local veterinarian and maintain a healthy diet as prescribed by the trainers.
Upon completion of basic training, the dogs will be carefully matched to a waiting recipient and begin specialized training to learn the needs of the individual that they will be paired with. When the trainer is confident that the dog is completely able to meet the needs of their companion, the individual and the dog will go through advanced training as a team prior to being placed in the home of the recipient. Appropriate follow up continues for the duration of time that the dog is in service.
SMSD has been awarded Accreditation by Assistance Dogs International. This validates that the facilities and operation of the SMSD program meets or exceeds ADI standards.