Our Training Program

The Semper Fi Service Dog Methodology

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Our SoCal Training Director, Dr. Deborah Hunter M.D. will teach veterans in one-on-one classes, and for greater socialization, groups of no more than 10 per class.  Veterans are taught to train their own service dog from day one. This training technique nurtures and develops a bond of trust, communication, and companionship within the service dog team of veteran and canine.

Through this connection of trust, the dog learns to recognize the medical triggers, such as increased breathing for a PTSD panic attack epsode, and becomes acutely aware of changes in the veteran’s distinct physiological behavior. In turn, the veteran learns to recognize changes in the dog’s behavior which also serves as a cue to the veteran an attack is immenent.


Hands-On Training

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The veteran is 100% involved in the guided training of his own service dog. The training director will gently educate the veteran to adhere to ADI standards, and the highest quality of dog training using canine training methodology learned from Bergin University, the only accredited service dog training school in the United States.  We provide the tools for success, but it is the veteran's own commitment and dedication that are crucial to the success of a veteran and their service dog partner.


Taking service dogs into public places such as a restaurant or a garden center  naturally brings excitement for the entire family, but may also bring unwanted attention. We will educate you through real-life scenarios, and how to respond to what may seem intruding public questions.


How Long Does It Take to Complete the Semper Fi Service Dog Training Program?

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The Semper Fi Service Dog Training Program is a 26-week course that’s split into three stages of training and personal/canine  accomplishment:

  1. Raising a Puppy - 6 Lessons
  2. Basic Dog Commands - 9 Lessons
  3. Service Dog Commands - 30 Lessons
  4. PTSD Specialty - an additional 12 weeks depending on IEP (Individual Education Program)


Only those veterans committed to program achievement are invited to participate.  

Is the Semper Fi Service Dog Training Program Free to our Veterans?

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 We want to thank our veterans for their service.  There is no charge for our program, ever.  

All training, service vests and education on their service dog and ESA rights are all free of charge.

Can I Use My Own Dog?

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If you are looking for your own dog to be trained as a service dog, in many ways this is an ideal situation, because your dog may already be in tune with your changing physiology during times of panic attacks or high anxiety.  That being said, we still need to access your canine's future capability for your personal disabilities, as well as overall temperament.    

Any dog who exhibits aggressive behavior in violation of our Minimum Training Standards for Public Access is NOT eligible for enrollment as an Assistance Dog, no matter what disability related tasks or alerts the dog is said to perform. 

Where is Training Held?

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Veterans residing in coastal Orange County individual training is held at our facility off Pacific Coast Highway in Huntington Beach.  For surrounding communities trainings are held at Irvine Regional Park in Orange.  

For San Diego County residents, training is held at Mission Bay.  Fiesta Island Dog Beach is a large area of land located within Mission Bay. Most of this island is designated as leash free for dogs.  Dogs can enjoy the beach side with lots of waves to play in, or the bay side with much calmer waters. There are also large fields to run around in.

Classes are held Fridays weekly at Fiesta Island Dog Beach in Mission Bay, San Diego, California.  Individual and group training are available. Classes are held in the designated gated area at the back center of the island.  

Mornings are scheduled individual training and afternoons are used for group training.

Individual Classes - Fridays 8-12

Group Training - Fridays 1-3