Service Dogs must have exceptional health, abilities, and temperaments. ECAD's founders, Dale and Lu Picard, have developed an outstanding breeding program, as well as a strong network within the industry. With the exception of some breeder donations, our dogs are Labrador and Golden Retrievers bred by ECAD for outstanding physical and mental health. We take pride in the fact that we have owned all of the female breeders from birth, and we only use studs from other Service Dog programs.
We carefully select females that have even tempers, good learners, and superior health to breed for ECAD. Our males are confident, excellent health, with a sweet personality. Each female will have no more than 4 litters in their lifetime and then go on to be exceptional ambassadors for us. On a yearly bases ECAD will whelp between 3 to 5 litters, all with the purpose of becoming Assistance Dogs.
Having our own breeding program helps to ensure the best possible puppies enter our training program. The puppies are whelped at our breeding center in Torrington, Connecticut by the Picard family. ECAD’s early education and socialization program stands the test of time. Between our Puppy Nanny Program and early exposures to various noises, textures, and objects while still in the whelping box, ECAD has a 85% or better success rate.
Our program is unique because the pups get the best of both worlds – home and school – right from the start. We are big believers in early education!
As early as eight weeks of age, the pups are ready to transfer over to our Nursery team. The nursery teams are loving people that open their homes and hearts for 2 months in order to expose their pup to traveling in vehicles, all the activity that happens in a home, as well as house manners. By 4 months old, our puppies already know Sit, Down, Come, Watch Me, and sleep all night in a crate.
The pups leave their nursery home between 4 and 5 months old when they begin more structure teaching in one of our ECADemy programs, such as the women’s prison in CT. By the end of the first year, they have learned up to 60 commands that can be combined to perform even more tasks of daily living designed to help a person with a disability.
All the dogs enter advance learning around 12 to 14 months at which time the specialized skills are being taught and mastered. It is when the dogs are about a year and a half old, our instructors compare the dogs' temperaments and skills with the needs of people who have requested dogs. When we find a potential match, we do extensive interviews with the client to identify their specific requirements. We then do highly individualized training for the dog(s) we believe will work best for that client. By the time the client comes for team training, the dog has had up to 1500 hours of education and socialization.