Boot camp has gone to the dogs for these young pups training to be service animals.
At the Puppy Prodigies Neo-Natal & Early Learning, instructors believe the most successful service dogs begin their training at a very early age.
Just ask Ricochet, the surfing service dog who helps children with disabilities fulfill their dreams of riding the waves.
The 8-year-old golden retriever was just one of the many pups in the Puppy Prodigies program, where pooches as young as a couple weeks old are learning to open doors, turn on lights, deliver mail and more.
“We believe that young puppies should have the opportunity to develop emotionally, socially and physically from the moment they’re born,” the organization said in a statement.
The group recruits puppies born at shelters or rescued from dire situations, and begins behavioral training for the puppies as young as 13 days old.
At four weeks old, puppies start familiarizing themselves with the commands they might encounter as service dogs, by flicking on light switches, pushing buttons on handicapped doors, and pulling off socks.
By the time the pups are 12 weeks old, they should have command of most of the actions they’ll be asked to perform in their future as a service dog.
Starting young helps the dogs build confidence and bond with humans, according to the statement.
It also helps gauge their ability to become service dogs at a young age, to avoid a mature dog ending up in the shelter if it flunks out of the program.