Our Mission

AVSDA's Mission:
Making Connections, One Dog at a Time!

Our Mission: In 2013 a small group of Veterans set out to make a positive impact for their fellow Vets who were dealing with the effects of post-traumatic stress. The goal was to help reduce the high number of suicides among Veterans, and specifically those coping with PTSD. Our chosen method to help was through the love and support of a dog. Since those early days, we have grown in scope and capabilities to become a professional Service Dog training organization with a great reputation in the Chicago area. We now seek to expand and assist our fellow Veterans nationwide, with the assistance of the advancements in distance learning. Our methods may change, but our core mission remains the same, to help our Brothers and Sisters on their journey of healing, and to make their daily lives better.

Our Approach: Our Service Dog Training Program is about more than just training dogs. Through our collaboration with Peggy Moran’s School for Dogs, LLC, we offer Peggy’s comprehensive, science and learning-theory based program. Over the course of 52-weeks, enrolled students participate in either an entirely online or a hybrid online/in-person program that teaches Veterans to train their own Service Dogs. AVSDA students learn how to build a partnership with a dog by better understanding how learning happens and how behavior changes are encouraged. We do not teach dogs to obey, but rather to cooperate and offer behavior as team players who learn to read and respond to situations and their handlers’ needs without the use of “commands”. We use no punishment, force, shaming, or frightening to achieve our team-building goals. We use gentle equipment that never causes fear or pain. Our teaching methods for dogs are humane and reward based, utilizing a variety of positive reinforcers including food, play, touch, encouragement, and affection.

Our Teaching Methods for people are similarly patient and kind. Our lessons and teaching focus upon guiding our human learners on their own personal journeys to uncover a deeper understanding of how they might interact with their dogs with confidence, love, and trust, while teaching their dogs to offer support in times of need. The people in our program learn to give in equal measure with how they receive from their dog partners. Time spent in our program is an investment in future assistance from empathic, intuitive, trained Service Dogs. Our program is not easy, but it is achievable. The results of completing the AVSDA’s 52-week training program include an exemplary working Service Dog trained by the Veteran partner under our guidance, and a deeper sense of understanding, confidence, trust, and social connection for both the Veteran and his or her Service Dog.