At about 16 to 18 months of age, puppies are returned to Gallant Hearts for evaluation and training.
They first receive an evaluation in obedience, socialization and house manners. While in training, the dogs live in the home of Gallant Hearts Executive Director or in the home of the trainer. The initial evaluation also includes any medical testing that was not done as a puppy, such as a preliminary hip and elbow evaluation by Orthopedic Foundation For Animals and an eye exam by a canine ophthalmologist.
The training includes approximately one hundred and twenty hours of in harness training by our Gallant Hearts trainer over a period of four months. The dogs work about three hours a day and although food rewards are not used during training, positive reinforcement is used to make the dog want to work for a person and to establish the love and bond that must exist if a team is to be successful. The dog must master a lengthy list of competencies before it can be placed as a Gallant Hearts dog.