K9 Training Program


Transforming Rescue Dogs Into Emotional Support Animals

Emotional support animals can be extremely powerful in alleviating the negative aftereffects of trauma. Such pets have the ability to provide endless support, companionship, affection, and unconditional love—all enormously therapeutic to first responders and veterans who have experienced disturbing events while performing their noble professions.

AAR’s K9 training program teams up rescue dogs with heroes, so that animals and humans in need can help each other lead more fulfilling, happier lives. Because the animals, too, are often survivors of highly challenging situations such as abuse, neglect, and abandonment.

We work with a licensed animal behaviorist who provides basic training to local rescue dogs in Tucson. Trained dogs are then matched with humans seeking companionship and support, for a win-win situation.


What is An Emotional Support Animal?

Support pets provide comfort and companionship to people struggling with mental health conditions such as anxiety, depression and PTSD. Unlike service dogs, who help their humans perform certain tasks they’d be unable to manage without them, emotional support dogs don’t require special training.

However, support pets do need to be obedient and well-behaved, which is why we put all animals through our K9 training program before sending them home with veterans and first responders.


Do I need a support dog?

At AAR, we provide help for veterans and first responders, empowering heroes and warriors to take charge of their own transformation and recovery. Our K9 training program is just one of the ways we do this.


Many heroes find themselves missing the camaraderie of their service career. The constant presence of a support dog can help fill this hole.


Following long periods of service, you may end up spending lots of time alone—a dog is a permanent companion that will never leave your side.


Since dogs are naturally optimistic, spending time with your support pet is likely to uplift your mood and improve your outlook.

Physical Touch

Cuddles on the couch, scratches behind the ears, belly rubs—all this affection contributes to a mutually beneficial relationship between you and your pet.

Emotional Support

If you’re finding everyday scenarios challenging, having a faithful and furry friend to accompany you can be extremely encouraging.


How Our K9 Training Program Works

We’ve developed a basic K9 training program to ensure all the animals we rehome are ready for their new life as an emotional support dog:


Certified dog trainers visit animal rescue centers in Tucson to hand-pick canines suitable for training up as emotional support animals. Certain qualities, such as intelligence and capacity to learn, make some K9s more likely to succeed as emotional support animals than others.


Suitable dogs undergo our basic training program to prepare them for rehoming (see more details below).


If you’re interested in receiving an AAR-trained rescue dog, you’ll pay a fee through a non-profit organization we work with.


We’ll match you with a suitable AAR-trained dog based on your needs and preferences.


You’ll spend one week on our training site with the animal. During this time, we’ll teach you basic clicker training and provide instructions on how to further develop the dog’s learning.


You get to take home your new canine companion, and your new life together begins!


Humane Dog Training Through AAR

We only use humane and non-invasive methods to train our rescue dogs. Our preferred method is clicker-based training, which is easy and effective as long as it’s performed correctly.

Often, animals have experienced significant trauma themselves as puppies and younger dogs, so it would be criminal to traumatize them further through rigorous training methods.

Furthermore, as explained above, emotional support animals don’t need to be able to perform complicated tasks, such as switching lights off or moving items around. Their training is purely to ensure they’re obedient, well-behaved, and pleasant to be around.


Clicker Training For Dogs

So how does clicker-based dog training work? Animals are rewarded with a click—and, crucially, a tasty treat —every time they perform a desired action. Eventually, they begin to associate the click with having done something right. The trainer can then remove the treat on some occasions, meaning the dog starts to view the click itself as the reward.

Using Clicker Training

We teach our rescue dogs the following:


The Three Ds

The dog you take home will be trained in basic clicker training as explained above. During your one-week stay at our center, we’ll ensure you’re confident using the clicker method with your new support animal. We’ll also teach you how to continue your pet’s training using the three Ds:

Three Ds

Duration: Getting the dog to perform a certain action or behavior for a longer period of time

Distance: Increasing the space between you and your dog when giving the command

Distraction: Introducing elements that could distract your pet, such as noises, food, and other stimuli

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General Disclaimer

AAR is committed to providing resources and support for personal growth and development. Please note that AAR is not a substitute for professional care, therapy, or medical advice. The information provided on this website is intended for informational and educational purposes only. It is not a replacement for consultation with qualified professionals. If you require medical or therapeutic assistance, please seek the guidance of licensed professionals. AAR does not assume responsibility for any actions taken based on the information presented on this website.