Our service dog training program provides veterans with renewed purpose, confidence and unconditional support.

Our service dog training program provides veterans with renewed purpose, confidence and unconditional support.

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Our Program

Our program begins by carefully matching veterans to a vicd foster dog, forming a training team. Each team is then led through twice-weekly training sessions over the course of one year. The program is based on an Integrated Victory Management system focused on rewards and accomplishments, and guided by professional trainers, and a mental health clinical practitioner. 

The goal of the program is the training and successful graduation of a fully certified Stress Injury Service and Support Dog (SI-SSD) that remains in the veteran’s care.

The bond created through each team is life altering. Our dogs learn to be emotionally tuned to their person and their unique triggers. They’re able to wake veterans from nightmares, ground them from a hyper-aroused state, and support them unconditionally through the stresses and trauma of everyday life.

To ensure the program is available to everyone who needs it, all dog and travel-related expenses are covered by VICD. This includes dog food, veterinary treatments, obedience training, training equipment, and gas cards to cover travel to class. VICD also recognises the crucial impact loved ones have on a veteran’s recovery. We invite family to attend our monthly support sessions to learn more about the program and its methods. Donate Now.

The VICD training program is made up of two distinct parts: Compassion Dog Training and Public Access Training. Compassion Dog Training forms the foundation of the program and consists of three levels. Once complete, teams may apply for Public Access Training, with the goal of becoming a certified service dog team. Learn more, about applying to our program.

 

Compassion Dog Training

Compassion Dog Training is a reward-based core skills training program, approximately 24-30 weeks in length. The program has been carefully structured to ensure VICD veterans successfully achieve their goals, while strengthening the team bond. Compassion Dog Training builds the foundation necessary to progress to the VICD Public Access Training program.

Compassion Dog Training

Compassion Dog Training is a reward-based core skills training program, approximately 24-30 weeks in length. The program has been carefully structured to ensure VICD veterans successfully achieve their goals, while strengthening the team bond. Compassion Dog Training builds the foundation necessary to progress to the VICD Public Access Training program.

LEVEL 1 CORE SKILLS

Basic obedience, Sit, Down, Stay, Stand, Heel, Recall, Present.

 

 

LEVEL 2 ESSENTIALS

Handler confidence training with obstacles, Automatic sit stay, Take it, Leave it, Accepting a friendly stranger, Politely accepting petting, Door exercises, Come when called.

LEVEL 1 CORE SKILLS

Basic obedience, Sit, Down, Stay, Stand, Heel, Recall, Present.

 

LEVEL 2 ESSENTIALS

Handler confidence training with obstacles, Automatic sit stay, Take it, Leave it, Accepting a friendly stranger, Politely accepting petting, Door exercises, Come when called.

LEVEL 3 CULTIVATING THE ESSENTIALS

Loose dog exercise, Walking through a crowd.
Reaction to passing a dog, Off leash recall. 
Stand for examination. Accepting a friendly stranger.
Walking through a doorway with a dog present.
Come when called off leash.
Meet and greet (dog to dog interactions).
Reaction to distractions.

During training, teams may opt to take the Canadian Kennel Club’s Good Neighbour (CGN) Test. Run by an external agency, this serves as a practice run for the team to assess their own skills and abilities in a testing environment.
Once all three levels of Compassion Dog Training are complete, most teams elect to pursue Public Access Training, with the goal of receiving the B.C. Government Guide Dog and Service Dog Certification for a Stress Injury Service and Support Dog (SI-SSD).

Public Access Training

If a team displays the criteria necessary to become certified, graduates of Compassion Dog Training are eligible to commence Public Access Training. Under the mentorship of VICD trainers. Eligible teams then undertake a certified public access examination by a B.C. Ministry of Justice certified examiner.

STEP ONE:

• Interview with the VICD Working Advisory Group to confirm suitability and interest in public access certification

STEP TWO:

• Commence supervised Public Access Training with certified VICD training staff
• Successfully complete the Public Access Training pre-test checklist
• Meet with the VICD mental health team to navigate questions regarding public access rights

STEP THREE:

• Receive ‘Service Dog In Training’ badge
• Demonstrate an ability to practice skills unsupervised and in public
• Attend mandatory weekly Public Access Training sessions with VICD trainers in public settings
• Demonstrate an ability to perform all tasks required for certification
• When VIDC feels the team is ready the exam is scheduled

STEP FOUR:

• Successfully complete the B.C. Guide and Service Dog Certification exam with the B.C. Ministry of Justice certified examiner

The veteran and dog team is now a B.C. Certified Stress Injury Service and Support Dog team (SI-SSD), allowed full public access in accordance with British Columbia’s Guide Dog and Service Dog Act​.

V.I.C.D. After Care

Consistent connection is at the heart of our program, which is why we invite all teams to continue taking classes with us after graduation. We also encourage graduates to consider sharing their experience with new teams through our mentorship program. This program helps mentors develop the skills needed to support other veterans throughout their 52-week journey.

The encouragement and guidance of someone who has walked the path already is invaluable. Becoming a mentor is also an opportunity to stay connected to the program and become an integral part of the healing process.

Learn more about the application process.  

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