What makes Paws 4 independence different from other Service Dog Programs?

Paws 4 Independence is a 501(c)(3) organization that trains the dogs with their owners from the beginning. In doing this the dog and handler build a stronger bond and the handler will know how to correct problems as they arise and will have the knowledge to continue training the dog throughout its life. Paws 4 Independence provides training for the lifetime of the dog. We have training classes twice a week and many participants find that Paws 4 Independence is a family from which they can find support because everyone is going through the difficulties of having a disability and knows the struggles that come from experiences being in the public eye with their Service Dog. There are not a lot of owner-trained Service Dog programs out there yet. Having this format to our training allows us to train more dogs because we are not reliant on foster homes for ALL of our dogs, we are able to keep the cost of Service Dog training substantially lower ($4,500 versus $5,000-$50,000+ for a dog that is trained by a program before you receive it), handlers are paired with their dog from the beginning rather than at the end of the dog's training, and we can quickly resolve any issues that may come up. We have found that we have a substantially higher success rate with our Service Dogs compared to other programs.

Who can apply for a Service Dog?
Anyone with a physical, mental, or developmental disability may apply for a service dog. We will consider all applicants regardless of race, gender, religion, creed, sexual orientation, ethnic origin, or age.

Who qualifies for a Service Dog?
The Service Dog candidate must be able to actively participate in the training processes required to own a Service Dog or have a caregiver who can fulfill these duties. The candidate must be actively pursuing the goal of independent living and seeking to improve his or her quality of  life through the aid of a service dog. The emotional, physical, and financial needs of the service dog must be met continuously and a stable loving home must be provided.

What kind of dogs does Paws 4 Independence use?

We use dogs of all different breeds as long as they are able to perform the tasks and meet the needs of the handler. We breed our own boxers and rottweilers for the program as well.

Where does Paws 4 Independence get its dogs?

We breed our own boxers and rottweilers and donate several dogs from each litter to the program. The majority of the dogs in our program are dogs that participants already owned or specifically obtained for Service Dog training.

What if someone already has a dog and would like it trained?

We accept individuals into the program who already have a dog they would like to train providing the dog is suitable for Service Dog work. There are a variety of variables that are considered, such as age and temperament of the dog. Every dog must be evaluated by our trained staff before being accepted into the program.

Where are they trained?
We have training classes on Monday and Wednesday nights at the Hmong Cultural Center in La Crosse.  Advanced classes meet at different public venues in the community for public access training as well.

How long is the training process?
The length of training for a Service Dog varies due to a wide variety of factors such as age, temperament, how quickly the dog is able to learn tasks and skills, how committed the owner is to training the dog on a regular basis, difficulties that arise with coming into maturity, behaviors that may take time to train out, how often they get training on public access, and whether or not the dog is able to pass the Canine Good Citizen Test and our Public Access Test. Commitment to daily training at home and how often the dog is worked with outside of class and in class play a large role in the training process. On average it takes one to one and a half years.

How long do service dogs work?
On average, service dogs work approximately eight years. A dog's physical and emotional well-being may extend or shorten the dog's expected length of service.

What if someone wants a dog but doesn't live near Wisconsin?
It depends on the individual's commitment and ability to come to the classes that we offer. We are willing to accept people in other Midwest states if they are willing to travel and commit to training. 

What is the cost to receive a dog?

There is a $35 application fee for processing a service dog application and when you are accepted into the program the cost of training for the lifetime of the dog is $4,500.  We ask for a $500 down payment upon acceptance into the program. We have had clients utilize a payment plan with us for paying off their bill.

How is Paws 4 Independence funded?
We are non-profit 501(c) (3). We are funded through grants, scholarships, the generosity of the public, donations,

fundraisers, etc.

How can I purchase a Boxer or Rottweiler puppy to have as a family pet?

To purchase one of our purebred Boxer or Rottweiler puppies contact us through e-mail at paws4board@gmail.com or by phone at (608) 797-2410. To learn more about our dogs go to our Boxer and Rottweiler Breeding page.

Does Paws 4 Independence provide any general obedience classes for dogs that are family pets, not service dogs?

Yes, we do accept dogs for obedience training. The dogs will join our beginning and intermediate classes.  We will take on 1-2 general obedience dogs at a time to add to our classes. For more information call us at (608) 797-2410 or email us at paws4board@gmail.com

Frequently Asked Questions

Paws 4 Independence

"Service Dogs Saves Lives"