Assistance Dog Education Program and Training (ADEPT)

ADEPT (Assistance Dog Education Program and Training)™ is an innovative PawPADs program offered to UWRF students. It utilizes PawPADs’ positive training methods and philosophy to give college students an opportunity to grow, both professionally and personally, while also preparing assistance dogs to help people with disabilities gain independence.

student and service dog in UWRF hallway
photo of 3 UWRF Students going shopping with three service dogs in-training

How Does The Program Work?

  • The ADEPT program at UW-River Falls is unique in that it provides an intensive, life-changing opportunity for students to learn life-skills through the training of an assistance dog for placement with a person with a disability. It’s especially valuable for students who are interested in assistance dog training and placement or Animal Assisted Interventions in human services. Unlike traditional assistance dog “puppy-raising” experiences, the ADEPT program works with UWRF students, allowing them to participate in the full spectrum of training an assistance dog from puppy to placement.
  • Pawsitive Perspectives Assistance Dogs (PawPADs) provides ADEPT participants with service dogs in-training, professional training instruction and opportunities for broader collaboration within the industry and the community. It’s a serious commitment of time, patience, and teamwork on the part of the student, but the benefits are truly life-changing.
  • As an ADEPT intern, you’ll receive professional training instruction, guidance, and 24/7 on-campus support from PawPADs’ staff, as well as opportunities to apply what you’re learning! The program is designed to provide a well-rounded experience for students beyond training dogs, with weekly meetings that cover topics like team building, disability education, nonprofit management, service dog laws/ethics, and canine enrichment.
  • The ADEPT program offers UWRF students a unique opportunity to learn practical life skills such as time management, problem-solving, communication, leadership, and teamwork. These skills are learned through the training and development of an assistance dog, which requires a high level of dedication, patience, and commitment. The program also provides students with a sense of purpose and accomplishment as they work to prepare their assistance dogs to help individuals with disabilities gain independence.
  • You’ll be responsible for the training, socialization, and welfare of the ADEPT assistance dogs in-training, as well as participating in public outreach and advocacy activities and fundraising to support the program and the assistance dog industry as a whole. You’ll learn high-level socialization/public access training, obedience skills, and task training that is useful to a person with a physical mobility challenge, such as retrieves, turning on lights, opening doors, as well as alerting to blood sugar changes.
  • The ADEPT program has proven to be highly successful, with many of the assistance dogs trained in the program going on to help individuals with disabilities gain independence. The program has also been a transformative experience for many of the students who participate, providing them with practical life skills, a sense of purpose, and a deep appreciation for the impact that they can have on others. Several have gone on to use the skills learned in the program in jobs directly and indirectly related to service dogs.

In Their Own Words...

Testimonials from ADEPT participants


Mission Accomplished: A tribute to the ADEPT Interns

Interested in bringing ADEPT to your institution?

ADEPT offers:

  • An established curriculum and extensive experience training both dogs and people.
  • A mission statement specifically focused on the educational aspect of training dogs.
  • Complete package of skills and knowledge developed by pioneers in the field.
  • Broad, up-to-date, and relevant Continuing Education experience.
  • In-depth experience within the University of Wisconsin and Federal Bureau of Prisons systems.
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PawPADs is a 501(C)(3) charitable organization so your contributions are tax deductible to the fullest extent allowable by law. (EIN: 510593176)
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