Service Dog Training

shutterstock_45005518CPT’s outstanding service dog program has been featured in the New York Times best-selling book Doctor Dogs and recognized nationally by People Magazine.

CPT custom trains service dogs for wheelchair bound, neurologically impaired, orthopedically impaired, hearing impaired, and psychologically disabled clients. CPT also trains assistance dogs for children with autism. A CPT custom trained service dog can significantly improve the recipient’s quality of life.

Regardless of where you reside, if you have a service dog need, then CPT can help.  Via CPT’s Board Train, Hands-On, and Combo service dog programs, CPT has custom trained service dogs for clients from throughout the United States and in Canada.  By exercising flexibility, diversity, and creativity in program design, CPT has satisfied clients with a myriad of disabilities who reside in a variety of locations.

Moreover, CPT’s experience and expertise progresses beyond mere dog training.  We have participated in groundbreaking scientific research that has spawned advanced field tests for evaluating candidate animals.

CPT’s owner Mark Spivak co-authored  a peer-reviewed study (Functional MRI in Awake Dogs Predicts Suitability for Assistance Work) that used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to develop a brain marker algorithm for selecting optimal service dog candidates.  In addition, Mark was the principal investigator (PI) in a $500K Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) funded research study that identified 24 single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), genetic markers, relevant to service dog success or failure.  The genetic findings remain unpublished, as they have potential future commercial applications.

Most importantly, as stated above, CPT has practically employed the referenced research to develop proprietary field tests that more accurately assess puppy and young adult candidate animals.  CPT assists clients in locating ideal breeds, breeders, and litters and then evaluating the litter to select the most suitable puppy.  Similarly, CPT evaluates existing pets for suitability.  Upon the conclusion of the process we produce a professional evaluation report.  Furthermore, if the dog is deemed appropriate for the client program, then CPT constructs a customized post-evaluation lesson plan to ameliorate identified weaknesses, whereupon we maximize the future utility of the candidate.

By improving candidate selection and providing superlative training CPT produces unmatched outcomes that greatly improve quality of life for our clients.

CPT Physical Assistance Dogs open and close doors, open and close refrigerators, turn on and off lights, retrieve items from the floor, answer telephones, carry objects, assist in pulling wheelchairs up inclines or rough terrain, assist in transfers, assist in balance and walking, provide a distress signal, and seek human caretakers during emergencies.

CPT Hearing Assistance Dogs identify the sound of an alarm clock, doorbell, door knock, fire alarm, telephone, baby crying, or other sounds important to the specific client, then alert the client and respond accordingly.

CPT Autism Assistance Dogs prevent a child from bolting via usage of a dual-tethering system here and can aid in locating an escaped child should the child become separated from the dog or escape while accompanied by the dog. Autism assistance dogs also facilitate social contact with third parties and may reduce the frequency, duration, and severity of recipient stereotypical behavior, asocial behavior, and/or tantrums.

CPT Psychiatric Service Dogs reduce the frequency and severity of depressive episodes, perform behaviors automatically and/or on command that reduce the frequency, severity, and/or duration of panic attacks, provide a buffer from crowds, facilitate social interaction, and bolster general relaxation and confidence. When, requested, they can also perform other specialized behaviors, such as room searches and turning on lights.

CPT Seizure Response Dogs perform a bracing behavior that prevents injury from falls and communicate an emergency situation to passers by.  CPT Seizure Dogs may also alert to a seizure pre-ictally, so that the recipient has ample time to assume a safe position.

• CPT Physical, Hearing, Autism, Psychiatric, and Seizure Assistance Dogs play a valuable role in facilitating social interaction, expanding confidence, reducing anxiety, and minimizing the physical and psychological effects and limitations otherwise posed by a disability.

• CPT trains assistance dogs to remain calm in indoor and outdoor social settings, including restaurants, malls, business offices, other commercial and professional settings, and public transportation, and teaches dogs to ignore distractions while remaining on task.

• CPT assists with documentation and identification that facilitate public access.

• Dependent upon client specifications and preferences, CPT can either train a client’s existing pet or locate, evaluate, and select a puppy or adult dog that is ideal for participation in a client’s customized CPT service dog program.

• Unlike most service dog companies or non-profits, CPT tailors each program to the CPT client’s unique specifications and preferences.

• After training the dog, usually in a board training program, performed in a real-life environment at the home of a CPT trainer, CPT provides client/recipient training, which can occur at the CPT Training Center and/or at the home of the client.

• If a client is physically and emotionally capable, via our Hands-On Program, CPT can at times offer lower cost training options that integrate private and group instruction with or without an intermittent board training program. The Hands-On Program, that emphasizes group class, private lessons, in-home private lessons, and remote private lessons, is substantially less expensive than the typical service dog training program that requires a continuous board train of between 4 to 6 months.

• Most non-profit service dog organizations have long waiting periods due to excessive demand. In contrast to non-profits, CPT does not rely on donor money. Our clients pay directly for their dog and/or the training. Thus, clients with financial resources will find working with CPT advantageous, as they can receive a trained, ready-to-work animal in a matter of months, instead of years.

• Moreover, we will train the animal in accordance with customized program specifications unique to the needs of the specific recipient, rather than generic specifications most convenient to the organization.

Since each client program is custom designed, please contact the CPT office by e-mail or phone (404 236-2150) to receive a preliminary program design and/or cost estimate.


Reviews of the CPT Service Dog Program



I’m so grateful to this company for helping Baylor (my service dog) and I. Not even once did I feel uncomfortable sharing with them what I needed. I never felt judged or misunderstood and I trusted 100% that Baylor was in the best possible hands. The second time Lisa (a trainer with CPT) came to get Baylor for board training, Baylor ran out to Lisa’s truck and didn’t look back at mom or home even once! That really floored me. Baylor is so attached to me, and I have to admit I was a bit jealous that she loved Lisa that much! 🙂 That moment totally silenced any questions in the back of my mind about how Baylor was getting on when she was hanging out with Lisa. Clearly they have a really special bond and Lisa has an awesome gift working with dogs. Baylor is not the same dog she was in January, and it’s all thanks to Lisa. I want to also comment on how dramatically Baylor changed each time she had her board training. The first board train, she came home much quieter and able to focus with a very expanded repertoire of commands and things to work on. However, in public she was still kind of distracted around other dogs and I don’t think she fully understood her job. This is totally understandable, since she had only spent 6 weeks with Lisa. The second board train she did was for 5 weeks and Baylor came back a dog ready to WORK. She can now restrain herself from being wild to absolutely calm in seconds. I am amazed at how many new things Lisa taught her in such a short time. Baylor is learning Heel, Back, has mastered the Stand/Stay, does a great Visit, and her Lean is perfect. I am thrilled with Baylor’s progress and I take her with me proudly. We are an awesome team now, and I think she is a great ambassador to other service dog teams and pit bulls. Even when she’s not working, we get so many compliments on her good behavior and how sweet she is. I am so, so thankful to CPT. On another note, I am on the lowest dose of medication I’ve ever been on, and my psychiatrist and I are considering tapering me off of it completely. I have no doubt that this is entirely due to how much Baylor has been helping me since her training.
Olivia D. – Psychiatric Service Dog Program via CPT’s Board Train Service Dog Program.  May 23, 2016 ·



We are having our lab Bentley service trained through CPT. Mark was very good at evaluating Bentley and also understanding what we needed in Bentley. He was excellent working through all the commands Bentley would eventually learn and understanding the “unseen” needs our daughter has. It was amazing the change in Bentley from his first board train with Lisa. She was excellent at working with Bentley and really understanding what he needed to learn to help my daughter….she is almost 5 with several brain issues. Although bright and joyful, she has many sensory, balance, and seizure issues. Lisa has been amazing getting Bentley ready to serve and work with our daughter. He is continuing in classes with Karen while he is home and she has also been great. Bentley goes back to Lisa at the end of this month and while we will miss him again, we are so grateful for the bond they have and how amazing Lisa is at training Bentley. We cannot wait to see what this year brings as we countdown to next year when Bentley can receive his final service certification. Thanks CPT!
Molly G.-  Juvenile w/ Congenital Cognitive and Mobility Impairment.  CPT Combination Program that includes both the Board Training and Hands-On Service Dog Programs.   June 11, 2016 ·

CCI Puppy Raiser Class

In addition to operating our own service dog program, for almost two decades CPT has operated the Atlanta-area Puppy Raiser Classes for Canine Companions for Independence (CCI), the nation’s largest and most respected nonprofit service dog organization.  Furthermore, CPT President Mark Spivak’s company Dog Star Technologies, in partnership with CCI, conducts government contracted canine neuroscience and behavioral research designed to improve the selection and training of service dogs.  Below are some photographs of a recent CPT-CCI Puppy Raiser Class.

CPT service dog trainer Patricia King coaches the CCI puppy raisers to place their dogs in a group down-stay.

Now the down-stay becomes more difficult, as we add some live chickens to the room.

Before CPT or CCI approve candidate animals as full-time working service dogs they must remain calm, composed, confident, cooperative, and focused on-task, regardless of the environment and regardless of the distractions present in the environment.

To responsibly perform amidst full public access, service dogs need to reliably act with equanimity in any public, private, commercial, or residential setting.

The CPT service dog program and the CCI Puppy Raiser Class includes conditioning drills to train the dogs to remain calm, composed, confident, and on-task regardless of the floor or ground substrate, vehicles, or objects present in the environment and regardless of whether the environment contains unfamiliar persons, dogs, cats, or wildlife- even chickens!

A display of out-of-context anxiety, aggression, or excitability disqualifies a dog from working as a public-access service dog.

Furthermore, service dogs need to have a subordinate temperament, where they will easily cooperate with a disabled or a juvenile handler.  Therefore, the evaluation process is frequently as important as the training part of the program.

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