The training program involves several phases. It begins with a meeting between the warrior, dog, and trainer. This progresses to weekly classroom sessions, during which the wounded warrior participates in the training of the dogs. This involvement can create an enhanced sense of purpose for the warrior and forms a bond and trust with trainers and dogs, helping reduce anxiety and depression.
As trust develops over time, the warrior gradually ventures out into public with both the dog and trainer to the grocery store, doctor appointments, or sporting events, for example. This is where a Freedom Dog really earns its title—helping the warrior experience freedom by feeling calmer, safer, more sociable, less hypervigilant, and less reactive to triggers such as loud noises.
With independence the focus of the final stage, warriors attend school or events alone with the dog, returning the dog to the trainer at the end of the day. Although the formal program eventually ends, the warrior can continue to request a Freedom Dog for specific outings, as needed.