Service Dogs are dogs trained to perform specific tasks for people with both physical and mental disabilities, and unlike Therapy Dogs, are allowed by federal law to accompany their handler anywhere the general public is allowed.
Total Dog!’s Service Dog Training Program is designed to train dogs to be watchful and loyal Service Dogs that can confidently go with you, wherever you go. You’ll work with an experienced dog trainer to teach your dog to reliably perform the specific tasks needed to effectively mitigate the disabilities of their handler–and stay well-behaved on the go–until they’re ready to pass the test for Service Dog certification.
Our basics training program is designed to teach your dog to perform the basic commands and tasks needed for AKC certification. We’ll use positive, progressive behavioral-modification techniques to teach your dog foundational skills at their own pace, before they’re ready to move on to more advanced tasks.
With our Total Dog! training package, you can train your dog to perform advanced tasks (in addition to those included in our basics package) in a variety of real-world environments—including the company of new people and other dogs. From movie theaters and restaurants, to grocery stores and parks, we’ll train your dog to be completely desensitized to distractions and entirely calm in novel situations, so that they remain loyal companions wherever you go.
“We had just gotten our new puppy and were scheduled to be gone for 2 weeks when she was only 5 months old. We had tried PetSmart for obedience 101 and just hadn’t seen the results I was hoping for. My puppy, Stormi, is a small dog (10 pounds at that time), and the other dogs in our class were all large and she was super intimidated. It didn’t make for a good set of lessons, at all! Since I knew I would need boarding - it dawned on me to look into a board and train program. That’s when I found Total Dog! I called and set up a consult with Brice. Within 20 minutes of us talking, he had slipped a lead around her neck and had her sitting, in the most perfect pose (see photo)! He immediately put any anxiety I had at ease. Fast forward to returning from vacation - we had opted for 4 weeks of the Board & Train program. It was the best investment I could make in our new puppy. She got to tour local coffee shops, a City Council meeting, and came away stealing hearts and perfectly behaved!! And, to top it off, since her Board & Train program, Brice is just a phone call away and set up a private lesson and came out to work on any “hiccups” we may have encountered along the way. And once this pandemic is over, we are looking forward to completing her Canine Good Citizen certificate. I cannot say enough about Brice - his patience is amazing, both with my puppy and with me! He listened to every thing I said and never made me feel rushed, or that any question was stupid. Not only have I referred several friends to him, but will continue to bring all future dogs to him from here on out.
had the best training with Luisa! millie lacks no energy 😅 and Luisa showed up every week determined to get Millie trained. We had three big goals and each goal was met before Millie graduated. Luisa made it possible for me to push a baby stroller and walk millie on a leash (with no bouncing!!). we loved working with total dog training. will recommend to all of our friends that are dog people 🙂
Moriah is simply amazing! I have 2 dogs a Cane Corso and a Beagle and within the FIRST SESSION they were completely new dogs! She covered all of my major concerns and worked on them weekly and taught me things that I didn't even know my dogs needed to work on. She made my dogs a priority and made them feel loved. I am now able to walk/shop/go out/ go to the park/ and even place them without worrying that they will run off or attack anyone. Highly recommend Total Dog it is worth every penny!
As an individual with a certification in dog training, 3 ½ years of experience in training, as well as being an A.K.C and C.G.C evaluator and C.C.P.D.T With a specialization in behavior modification I have a unique perspective on how puppies/dogs can and will be and go on to be in terms of being fulfilled and successful in multiple aspects of their lives. While not trying to reinvent the wheel, my way of training is rather unique in the way that the behavior of the puppies/dogs is shaped. Whilst using treats as a means for reward after successfully completing a command has been the traditional route for far longer than one can imagine, I have noticed that affection as a means for reward breeds long term fulfillment, and success for both the puppy/dog and owner, therefore, I have implemented this reward system in my way of training, negating the over-treating of a puppy/dog which in-turn negates the creation of separation anxiety and other bad habits that can and will develop from over-treating. By implementing affection as the means for reward, the puppy/dog understands that he or she will be rewarded with affection and they will execute any command more successfully.
I am an entrepreneur in the wellness industry, and as such, I see firsthand the impacts that dogs can have on their families…good and bad! My desire to help people find balance in their lives perfectly dove-tailed into the mission that Total Dog! has, so it was very easy for me to adopt the Total Dog! philosophies not only on my personal Great Pyrenees, but I was then inspired to learn how to bring this to anyone that I can!
I had studied many books and videos, and while there is amazing information readily available, there is also a lot of ineffective information out there as well. Having a single source to get to the truth is amazing!
My Pyrenees is now the “start of the “show” when I am at local Farmers’ Markets, and I can take her off leash wherever I am allowed, without the fear of her running off or getting into scuffles with other animals. We are experiencing true freedom! She is also certified as a Service Dog! Many know that Pyrs can be a bit stubborn, especially on recall, but she now checks in with me to make sure that she is still within the predetermined range that I have set for her.
I am so excited to help you find the same joy with your dog as I do with mine. My whole philosophy on life and wellness is about balance, and having an unruly dog can certainly throw things off! We are here to help!
Starting with her family’s Cocker Spaniel at the local obedience club, Jillian began training when she was 11 years old. This prompted her to get her own dog when she was 13; a rescued Shetland Sheepdog named Missy. They trialed in AKC and the 4H club in agility, conformation, and obedience and eventually got into work as a therapy dog team. This was the root of Jillian's love for dog training.
Now active with her 3 Australian Shepherds, they compete in agility, conformation, obedience, rally obedience, scent work, and herding/stock. Together they have earned numerous titles in each of these venues and have competed at the National level. In 2019 Jillian and her dog Dosey Doe won the High in Trial award for Agility at the ASCA Nationals in Bakersfield, CA. While her personal dogs focus is on competitive sports, her professional work has been centered around general wellness and behaviors.
Jillian's background in professionally working with dogs includes an education as a Registered Veterinary Technician and managing her own grooming business. This has given her a unique perspective in more than just training. Jillian believes in looking at the whole dog to get the best results in their behavior, but also focuses on being a coach for the owners to know how to make desired changes stick.
Family always comes first. Especially my boys Christian (8) and Jovahnny (baby) and my little brother Adrian (9). I’ve always had a big heart for pets, especially dogs. Currently don’t have any pets due to just having a baby who doesn’t do too well with animals but we do plan to get one in the future. I am bilingual, I was born in Mexico but raised in Round Rock, TX. Love going to Mexico to visit my family and of course their delicious food. Excited for the opportunity to help dogs and their owners in Central Texas.
Melinda’s passion for training began at 9 years of age with her family dog, Hershey. Since then, Melinda has enjoyed training her own dogs for fun in agility, skills, hunting, tricks, and service dog work. In 2017, Melinda medically retired from law enforcement and began a new journey where she could turn her passion for dogs into a career. Melinda attended Rocky Mountain School of Animal Acupressure and Massage in 2020 where she earned her Canine Massage Therapy license. Since then, she has found a true passion for helping owners build the best relationship possible with their dogs. During her free time, Melinda trains and competes in dog sports and continues their never-ending journey of canine education.
Melinda has experience in:
Cassandra started working with dogs as a young girl when her family decided to open a rescue right out of her home after losing their family dog to breed discrimination.
Always passionate about working with animals, she continued her rescue efforts throughout her life by volunteering in shelters and learning from experts in the field about the handling and training of dogs and cats. After several years of apprenticeships in dog training, working for dog training companies, and serving as the operations and training director of a large scale pit bull rescue for over four years, she joined the Total Dog Team. Today, her mission is to empower owners with the confidence to improve the relationship with their dogs through education, training, and behavior modification.
Haley has always had a love for animals and helping others. She currently has two dogs named Roscoe and Duke as well as two daughters Raynee and Emilia. She strives to continue growing in everything she does. As an administrator Haley enjoys making one on one connections with clients and providing the best information for their training needs. Haley enjoys spending time at the lake with friends and family. Today, her goal is to help as many clients as possible and to empower her team by being a positive role model.
Founder, Professional Dog Trainer & AKC Evaluator
SGT Brice Cavanaugh founded Total Dog! and is on the Board of Directors for the National Tactical Police Dog Association, Operation Overwatch and The Pink Berets. He is a Professional Member of the International Association of Canine Professionals and is an Evaluator for the American Kennel Club's Canine Good Citizen multi-tiered program.
As an instructor in the tactical field, constant reading of journals and LE updates is a must. Brice’s unique perspectives come from decades of experience, from the tactical training and deployment of Military Working Dogs and Police Service Dogs to the instruction of deployment teams working in theater in some of the harshest conditions in the world.
As an instructor in the tactical field, constant reading of journals and LE updates is a must.
Not listed are dozens of courses that cover everything from Counterterrorism Tactics to Radiological Scanning Devices.
Service dog training is the process of teaching a dog to perform specific tasks to help individuals with disabilities. This type of training involves teaching commands, providing reinforcement for desired behaviors, and helping a dog learn to adjust to a variety of environments.
In addition, service dogs must meet certain standards and be certified for service work by organizations such as the American Kennel Club and Assistance Dogs International. At Total Dog! we provide both training and help with accreditation, so that you can get your dog service dog certified as fast as possible.
At Total Dog! our service dog training classes in Austin and San Antonio typically cover a diverse range of activities including basic obedience, housebreaking, and socialization. We’ll also teach your dog to perform specific tasks for its handler, based on their unique needs.
Yes! In addition to our service dog training, we also offer emotional support animal training, training for disability-specific task work, and public access training. These services can be provided as part of a package or as separate sessions.
Puppies can be trained to become service dogs. However, it is important to note that there is an extensive amount of training and socialization needed to raise one. Service dog training is not something that can be done in a few weeks, or without the help of a professional trainer, so it’s important to keep in mind that training will take time.
If you have a puppy that you would like trained as a service dog, consider enrolling them in our puppy training classes to start. Once they’ve learned the basics, we can discuss further training options.
A Service Dog is a dog that has been individually trained to perform specific tasks for a single person with a disability (someone with a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits their ability to important life activities). For example, a guide dog can help someone who is blind or visually impaired navigate their environment more safely and efficiently.
A Therapy Dog is a dog that remains inside—typically homes, hospitals, and hospices—that’s been trained to provide comfort to those who are sick or disabled. Therapy Dogs must also pass a test to ensure that they’re safe and well-mannered in the company of novel situations, people and other dogs, but unlike Service Dogs, don’t have public access rights, meaning they can’t go everywhere with their owner.
Yes. We’re happy to provide Therapy Dog training in Austin and San Antonio for dog owners who want to train their dog to be well-behaved and safe in specific environments, including homes, hospitals, care centers, schools and libraries, but not necessarily in all public spaces.
Contact us today to learn more about our Therapy Dog training programs!
While we don’t technically enforce breed restrictions on any of our dog training services, Service Dogs must be able to comfortably and effectively execute the tasks needed to help mitigate the their handler's disability. This means that some breeds may lack the physical attributes (i.e., strength or mobility) to effectively mitigate some disabilities, and may make great Therapy Dogs but not Service Dogs.
You can talk to one of our expert Service Dog trainers in Austin or San Antonio to find out if your dog is a good candidate for Service Dog certification.
While each dog has their own unique learning style and levels of maturity, any dog can learn new skills and behaviors, at any age. At Total Dog!, we're a truly all-inclusive dog training service and train dogs of all breeds and all ages.
We offer a Total Dog! dog training package that includes unlimited lessons until your dog reaches the goals identified at the start of the program. Following the program's completion, you'll have the opportunity to extend your dog's training to help them reach new goals.
Click here to learn more about our training packages.
We’re happy to offer service dog training in Austin and San Antonio. Regardless of where you are, our Texas’ dog trainers have the experience and know-how to help your dog become a fully functioning assistance animal. Contact us today to learn more!