Team Training: The Student Experience
Our student residential program is an all-encompassing, immersive experience that provides you with the skills required for handling and caring for a Pilot Dog.
New students who are getting their first Pilot Dog will spend three weeks onsite, and students who have already had a Pilot Dog will stay for two weeks.
In return for your hard work and dedication, you will receive an extraordinary new level of independence, and the closest, most trusting partner you will ever have.
Preparing for Your Stay
We will make round-trip reservations for you to travel to the Pilot Dogs campus in Columbus, Ohio. As you pack for your stay, be sure to check the weather – Ohio experiences all four seasons with a wide range of temperatures and precipitation.
- Our student residence facility features large, comfortable, non-smoking/non-vaping private suites, and a resident assistant is on duty throughout your stay. Suite amenities include:
Private bathroom with a shower (bath towels and bathrobe provided)
Queen-size bed (linens and pillows provided)
A large dresser and a closet with hangers
Television with streaming TV
Desk and chair
- We have an exercise room, laundry room, and laundry service for linens and towels.
- A braille writer and CCTV are always available.
- Feel free to bring your laptop, tablet, or smartphone, as we have Wi-Fi available. If you’d like to bring digital books, we have talking book players available for you to borrow.
- Home-cooked meals are provided in our 421 Bistro, and our dining staff is accommodating to different dietary needs.
- Visitors are welcome on a limited basis, and mail is always welcome.
- Smoking is permitted in designated areas only.
Training with Your Pilot Dog
Over the first two days of your stay, you will spend time with your instructor as they teach you how to hold a harness handle and leash and use basic commands. While you practice, the instructor gathers information that will be used to match you with a dog.
After you are matched with your dog, you will attend training designed to present you with progressively more challenging situations. You will learn and reinforce core skills, and gain the confidence to go about daily life with your dog. Our primary goal is to teach you how to keep both your dog and yourself safe at all times.
- The day begins at 6:00 a.m. and breakfast is at 7:00 a.m. You will relieve and feed your dog, and meet your classmates in the dayroom to go to breakfast in our 421 Bistro together.
- The morning consists of training walks; lunch is at noon, with more training in the afternoon.
- Dinner is at 5:00 p.m., and afterward you will feed and relieve your dog.
- At 6:30 p.m. all students meet in the dayroom for an evening meeting. The day ends at 8:00 p.m.
There are two walks each day - once in the morning and once in the afternoon. Walk schedules may be adjusted according to an individual student’s health and ability.
A Note About Dog Breeds
Pilot Dogs trains four different breeds of dog: Labrador Retriever, Golden Retriever, Standard Poodle, and German Shepherd Dog (not all breeds are available at all times). We will try to accommodate requests for a specific breed; however, a student’s home environment - such as young children in the house, employment situations, and the age of the student - helps to determine the type of dog the student is matched with. The trainer will select the dog that they feel will best suit the student’s situation.
After Your Training
Once you have completed your training and are back home with your new Pilot Dog, you are eligible to participate in our Graduate Reimbursement Program. Expenses that are eligible for reimbursement are as follows:
- Dog food - $75 maximum (bi-monthly)
- Dog treats/Nylabones
- One-time crate expense
- Routine (preventative) vet care including, but not limited to:
Heartworm/flea & tick preventatives
Office call charge
Coverage of expenses not shown on this list will be determined on a case-by-case basis.
"While guide dog training is the primary focus of Pilot Dogs, I also wish to thank all the faculty for creating a courteous and dignified living environment.
Everyone is professional, and so hospitable that I wanted to remain for an extended stay."
-John Russo, two-time Pilot Dogs graduate