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FAQS

WHERE ARE YOU LOCATED?

We are based in northern New Jersey, specifically Randolph, NJ. We operate throughout the tri-state area and prefer to remain within an hour and a half of our home base (some exceptions are made). We also offer virtual lessons via Zoom.

Contact us today to see if we can help you!

WHAT IS YOUR TRAINING METHODOLOGY?

We like to cater to the individual handler and dog. We use the LIMA dog training method, in addition to relationship-based training.  The LIMA method uses the least intrusive, minimally aversive strategy whenever possible. We are knowledgeable about proper use of training tools such as head halters, prongs, and e-collars. Every dog and handler has their own preference to what works best. The ultimate goal is for our training to help you not rely on a specific tool, such as a prong, for the long term.

WHAT TYPE OF SERVICE DOGS DO YOU TRAIN?

Thunderbolt Assistance Dogs trains psychiatric alert and response, medical alert and response, mobility, and multipurpose service dogs. We do not train guide dogs for the blind. With our current skill set, we are open to training diabetic alert dogs and hearing alert dogs on a case by case basis.

WHY SHOULD I CHOOSE THUNDERBOLT ASSISTANCE DOGS?

It's already hard enough training a service dog all on your own. Without professional guidance, you risk having your dog "wash out" or fail to become a successful service dog. It can be a tumultuous process to fail a dog and we want to help people through it, making different training plans to suit your income and abilities.

FAQ: FAQ

SERVICE DOG FAQS

WHAT IS A SERVICE DOG?

Under the ADA, a service animal is defined as a dog that has been individually trained to do work or perform tasks for an individual with a disability.  The task(s) performed by the dog must be directly related to the person's disability

WHAT DOES "DO WORK OR PERFORM TASKS" MEAN?

The dog must be trained to take a specific action when needed to assist the person with a disability. For example, a person with diabetes may have a dog that is trained to alert him when his blood sugar reaches high or low levels. A person with depression may have a dog that is trained to remind her to take her medication. Or, a person who has epilepsy may have a dog that is trained to detect the onset of a seizure and then help the person remain safe during the seizure.

IF SOMEONE'S DOG CALMS THEM WHEN HAVING AN ANXIETY ATTACK, DOES THIS QUALIFY IT AS A SERVICE ANIMAL?

It depends. The ADA makes a distinction between psychiatric service animals and emotional support animals. If the dog has been trained to sense that an anxiety attack is about to happen and take a specific action to help avoid the attack or lessen its impact, that would qualify as a service animal. However, if the dog's mere presence provides comfort, that would not be considered a service animal under the ADA.

DOES THE ADA REQUIRE THAT SERVICE ANIMALS BE CERTIFIED AS SERVICE ANIMALS?

No.  Covered entities may not require documentation, such as proof that the animal has been certified, trained, or licensed as a service animal, as a condition for entry.

There are individuals and organizations that sell service animal certification or registration documents online. These documents do not convey any rights under the ADA and the Department of Justice does not recognize them as proof that the dog is a service animal.

Our program offers certification to provide handlers proof of training and recognition for our graduates. 

CAN YOU TRAIN A SHELTER DOG TO BE A SERVICE DOG?

All dogs and puppies going through our program must be evaluated. Yes, a shelter dog can be a service dog, but you run the risk of the dog "washing out" (failing) later on, or running into various behavior problems (and even health issues) from their upbringing or poor breeding.

HOW DO I KNOW IF A SERVICE DOG IS RIGHT FOR ME?

First you need to meet the definition of being disabled: 
The ADA defines a person with a disability as a person who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activity.
A service dog won't help every disability.  For example, if talking to strangers and getting stared at in public gives you social anxiety, a service dog may not be the right option for you. 
Unlike other medical equipment, service dogs require a lot of care and upkeep, and are a huge financial investment. It is our opinion at Thunderbolt Assistance Dogs that the individual should try other means of treatment (therapy, medication, residential hospitals etc.) before committing to getting a service dog. Make sure everyone in your support system and household are on board.

FAQ: FAQ
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