- 1 Service dogs vs. therapy dogs
- 2 Service dog training cost
- 3 Service dog financial assistance
- 4 Training a service dog
- 5 Qualifications of a dog for service training
- 6 Assistance Dogs International Public Access Test
- 7 Service dog certification
- 8 Training schools for service dogs
Do you want to convert your furry buddy into a working dog? It’s true that our dogs are more than just companions. They are also helpful pals that can save our lives or aid the condition we’re currently in. Doggos can be trained to follow commands and this can be used for medical purposes. But before your pooch can become the hero dog you want him to be, you need to send him to a service dog training school.
For sure, you’ve trained your pooch to be obedient. But if you really want him to be certified as a service dog, the doggo needs to do some schooling. Service dog schools have a streamlined program to ensure that your pooch will have a high chance of passing the Public Access Test.
So how much is this training and what are the requirements you need to prepare? Read on.
Service dogs vs. therapy dogs
Before we proceed with your dog training checklist, let’s differentiate a service dog from a therapy dog first. This is important so you’ll know where your condition falls in terms of training your pooch.
Service dogs are expected to perform specific tasks. It can be mobility assistance, tactile stimulation, medical alert, and so on. Your pooch will undergo intensive training to ensure that s/he can understand commands. For medical alert dogs, the training would be more rigorous as the canine needs to sense biochemical changes in their handler’s body, say low oxygen and skyrocketing blood sugar levels.
For service dogs, the training can be as long as 2 years before they can be placed to a handler. Usually, service dogs are trained from puppyhood up to their mature years.
When it comes to therapy dogs, the canines will be trained for basic obedience. They also have to be outgoing, friendly, calm, and welcoming of petting. Not all breeds can be therapy dogs just like not all canines can pass as service dogs.
Therapy dogs usually visit clinics and other groups for affectionate petting and the calmness their presence brings. Usually, this is done on a volunteer basis. Therapy dogs can be placed to a handler as well.
Service dog training cost
Sending your doggo to a training school isn’t free, but once the good boy/girl finished victorious, the investment would be worth it. However, take note that this isn’t an easy road. The process is long and arduous. The trainers have to ensure that the dog can perform necessary tasks with accuracy and a very low risk of failure.
Usually, service dogs would be bred specifically for the job. This way, the schools can attest to the behavior, temperament, and health of the dog they will place to a handler. You can also send your pup to a service dog training school. However, the standards are high and dropout rates skyrocket to 70%.
Regardless where the dog came from, the cost of the training is really steep. It can range from $25,000 up to $40,000. This will include two-year training and other expenses like food, grooming, vet visits, and more.
Even if you own the dog, the cost will be the same once you factor in the school fees and cost of daily living.
Because of the high cost, some of those aspiring to have a service dog resort to self-training their pets. This can be effective and money-saving, but it’s always best to tap the help of a professional trainer. You need to ensure that your dog is learning the right way and his health won’t be compromised.
Service dog financial assistance
It’s a fact that not all service dog applicants can afford to shell out a large amount of money. Most of them are spending on medications and hospital bills. With this, some organizations offer financial assistance and fundraisers to shoulder a portion of the training costs.
One example is My Assistance Dog United Campaign, a non-profit organization that helps individuals find funding to avail a service dog. This California-based organization can provide up to $5,500 worth of voucher for applicants whose condition will be improved with the assistance of a service dog.
If approved, the voucher will be paid in two installments. You can email them directly to apply for a grant to reduce the service dog training cost.
For veterans, the U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs provides financial assistance to the handlers so they can sustain the needs of their furry pals. The financial assistance is intended to ease the burden of veterinary care.
You can also seek financial assistance from the California Department of Social Services Allowance (CDSS) if you live in the state. They will grant you a monthly $50 aid to cover the cost of grooming, food, and veterinary care. This may not be a large cost, but it’s worth the try for added assistance.
There are more ways to find funding for your service dog training. You can ask on your local government offices and the training school itself if they know organizations that grant financial aid.
Training a service dog
Nowadays, those who want to have a service dog have two options: get a dog from the training school or train their pets at home.
Of course, training schools would be a great option if you want to skip the hassle of being in-charge of your dog’s progress. However, the waiting list can be very long and the service dog training cost is too high to afford. The high standards and qualifications may also prove challenging even for an intelligent dog.
There’s nothing wrong with self-training as it can also yield an exemplary service dog. It’s advisable that the owner seeks the help of a professional trainer through the Assistance Dogs International to get a recommendation from its network of trusted trainers and programs.
This way, you’ll deal with a trainer that knows all the laws regarding the ownership and certification of a service dog. Your trainer of choice should know the ADA regulations about training a service dog. That includes control while in public and house training.
Qualifications of a dog for service training
If you’re keen to send your doggo to a service dog training school, you should give him some head start by subjecting the pooch to obedience training. Make sure that the dog can follow basic commands like ‘sit’, ‘leave’, and the likes. Most of all, you need to socialize your dog. It’s important that the canine is friendly and has no sign of aggression.
To make it clear to you, here’s a checklist if you want your dog to qualify for the program:
🐕Intelligence and ability to recall command
🐕Can be petted and touched by anyone even by complete strangers
🐕Alert but not aggressive
🐕Friendly and calm
🐕Socialized enough in different places and situations
🐕Always follows you wherever you go
Once your pooch exhibits the following traits, you can send him to a training school or a trainer of your choice.
If you’re training your dog on your own, always be consistent and try to achieve the aforementioned traits. For a start, you can use the AKC Good Canine Citizen objectives as your guide to training. The goal is for your dog to focus on you as the handler and ignore any distractions present nearby.
Also, never skip obedience training and potty on command. Once you have this right, it’s time to jump into the next level.
Assistance Dogs International Public Access Test
The ADI has set some standards when it comes to putting your dog’s abilities to the test. Your pooch should pass all of it and exhibit a positive behavior throughout the examination. If you’re training your dog at home, I’ve listed some of the tests below. You should also ask the private trainer you chose about this.
🐕Self-control inside a restaurant or any food establishment
🐕Self-control in entering and exiting a vehicle
🐕Ability to heel around a building
🐕Disciplined entry and exit to doorways
🐕Not darting off when the leash is dropped
These are just some of the possible tests your dog will be put into during the certification. Although it looks easy, these are just the general points. If you want a dog to be a medical alert canine, you simply can’t train him at home. The pooch needs the training of a professional to see if it can accurately sense biochemical changes in the body.
These tasking skills are very difficult to achieve at home. Dog experts have to do the training which can last for months or even years. If you own the dog, there’s no guarantee that the pooch can become a successful service dog for tasking skills. For example, if you want a medical alert dog, you need a breed that has a heightened sense of smell, possibly a bloodhound.
Service dog certification
Once your doggo passed the skills test, the next step is to seek certifications. Most canines born and raised in a service dog school will automatically have a certificate once they are placed to a handler. Therapy, assistance, and service dogs can be certified so the handlers can bring them to establishments that typically don’t allow pets.
One of the legitimate certifying agencies is the Service Dog Certifications which supports the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA). You need to prove that your dog is indeed a trained service canine to be granted a certificate. If you’re in doubt, it’s best to secure a certification from a service dog training school in your locality.
Remember, it’s not federally required to certify a service dog. You can have the dog trained and take it from there. However, some places and establishments may deny entry if you’re accompanied by a dog. So for protection granted by the ADA, a service dog certificate will be your pass to these places.
Just one word of advice: Never resort to fake certifications. You can fool some establishments but it won’t take much time for the authorities to notice. Also, bringing an untrained dog in public may impose danger to the people around.
Training schools for service dogs
The IACP has a network of trainers and dog experts that will conduct service dog training for your pooch. They also issue certifications and provide resources that service dog owners can use. If you want a trainer you can trust, you can inquire to IACP.
The CCI has been training assistance dogs since 1975 free of charge to its owners. This non-profit organization breeds, raises, and trains a service dog until they are placed to rightful handlers. CCI trains mobility, hearing, facility dogs, and companion dogs. The process lasts around 14-18 months for puppies sent to their school.
TLCAD has been training dogs since 1998. As a non-profit organization, they had secured the accreditation of the Assistance Dogs International back in 2007. TLCAD only uses positive reinforcement and a customized approach for every service dog candidate. When it comes to placement, TLCAD will work with the handler for the next 4-6 months.
If you want to have a hearing dog, the International Dog Hearing, Inc. is the place to be. Since their start in 1979, they had trained about 1,300 certified hearing dogs that have been rescued by local shelters. So if you want to adopt a dog while having a service dog, the International Hearing Dog will be the best school.
If you’re in California, the California Canine Academy can provide the training that your dog needs. They can train hearing dogs, companion dogs, assistance dogs, therapy dogs, and more. CCA will also issue an individual certification for the dogs.
Have you found the service dog training school that fits your pooch? Let us know below!
Curious of what a service dog training school looks like? Here’s a peek on the life of puppies bred and raised to be hero dogs: