Get Your Dog Certified as a Service Dog

how-to-get-your-dog-certified-as-a-service-dog

Everyone knows that dogs are man’s best friend, and the love and companionship they give to us cannot be encapsulated into mere words, but some dogs have the potential to be of much greater help to certain people with disabilities by becoming a service dog. Many people have a pup that they feel has great potential and investigate how to get their pet certified as a service dog online. Service animals are not just pets, they are working animals that are invaluable companions and helpers to their owners, providing assistance to people with a variety of physical and mental conditions.

The American’s with Disabilities Act (ADA) governs service dog laws in the United States, and it provides protection to assistance animal handlers. Service canines are given free and complete access to all public places in the United States (which includes businesses that display “No Dogs Allowed” or similar signs). Additionally, apartment buildings and airlines that don’t allow dogs or charge a fee for dogs must legally permit service animals to be with their handlers at no cost.

These canine helpers travel with their disabled human handlers assisting them with whatever tasks and jobs are needed. Any breed or size of dog can become a service dog, but some are more suited to perform certain work than others.

In order to qualify for an assistance dog, you must have a mental or physical condition that impairs a major part of your life. Service animals assist people with diverse disorders, including chronic depression, autism, post-traumatic stress disorder, blindness and visual impairment, deafness and hearing impairment, and other conditions. Under the ADA, no one is allowed to ask a service dog handler about his/her disability, to prove that he/she has a disability, or ask if the dog has been trained.

 

Preparing to Make Your Dog a Service Dog

how to make your puppy a service animalThe first step in the process of how to make your dog a service dog is to assess your pet’s personality and level of training. You may be wondering “would my pet dog make a good assistance animal?”, but not all dogs have the right temperament or patience to become a service dog. Depending on what tasks you will require the dog to perform, it may take many years of training for a pet to become an assistance dog capable of helping you at all times.

A dog needs to be relatively easy to train, patient, and physically capable of performing its job. Certain breeds are more suited to certain roles than others (for example, larger breeds of dogs such as labradors and golden retrievers make excellent mobility assistance dogs and smaller breeds such as jack russell terriers make good medical alert dogs).

All dogs have their own personality and disposition, and some dogs are naturally more outgoing and others are more subdued. While there is no exact formula for determining what the ideal service animal’s personality is, it is necessary for service animals to be able to cope with the extensive training and be disciplined enough to remain under the handlers control at all times. Unfortunately, many people discover that although their dog is a fantastic pet, he or she doesn’t possess the right traits to be an assistance dog, which is perfectly fine and very few dogs will be suitable for service animal training.

It’s also crucial that your dog be in excellent health and up to date with all shots and vaccines, and you’ll need to make a visit to your vet to give your pet a complete checkup before beginning training.

 

Service Dog Training

First and foremost, you are going to have to find a local school or trainer that specializes in training dogs for the purpose of helping people with various medical conditions. There are plenty of these organizations across the country, and due to the overwhelming choice it can be tricky to locate the best one to suit your needs. While many companies claim to be able to train top-quality service animals on their websites, it’s a good idea to do your own research and to look for the animals the company has already trained so you can see first-hand the results they produce and whether they live up their claims. Another good way of finding a good trainer is to ask other service dog handlers where they got their animals trained.

a service dog harness on a guide dog

Some people have a zealous streak of “I can do it myself”, but unless you are personally experienced at training service, therapy dogs or emotional support dogs, you will probably struggle to complete training if you try to go it alone. Many people have the idea that they can easily start and finish this process at home, but the truth is less simple and convenient. Professional help is almost certainly going to be necessary, as the instruction involves teaching your dog many specific and complex commands, such as off-leash extended sit-stays and hand signals for the dog to open an elevator door. This kind of advanced dog training will almost certainly require a the help of a specialized and qualified teaching school.

autism-service-dogService dogs assist their handlers by performing all kinds of tasks, ranging from mobility help to diabetes alerting to helping children with autism and much more. There’s a great deal for your pet to learn and practice, and it goes far beyond basic obedience training.

Once you find a local training facility, book an appointment so that one of their trainers can assess your dog and see if he or she will be a good candidate for eventually becoming a service dog and also to give you an overview of what the entire process will involve. It is likely to be a very expensive and time-consuming process, but the benefits that come from having a furry companion who is a trained assistance animal are more than worth the investment.

It’s absolutely crucial that your dog be fully trained and capable of being under your control at all times, especially in public when there are many distractions around. There is no legally required number of hours of training for a service animal in the US, but the International Association of Assistance Dog Partners (The IAADP) requires that their service animals receive at least 120 hours of training over a minimum period of six months. Their training requirements are extensive, including obedience skills, heeling while the handler is making complex movements, correct manners and social skills, tasks related to assisting with the handlers’ disability, and more. While none of these legally required in the US, The IAADP’s training requirements are an excellent guideline to measure the training progress of your own dog.

 

How To Get Your Dog Certified as a Service Dog

In the US there is no legally required service dog certification or registration process, but most service animal owners choose to register their animal with one of the many online companies that offer this service. Prices vary, and you can purchase ID and a service dog certificate, as well as a high-visibility vest and harness to ensure that their working dog is easily identifiable at all times.

service-dogs-for-sale

How to Get a Trained Canine – Service Dogs for Sale

Another option to consider if you don’t think your pet is completely suited to becoming a service animal is to purchase a dog that is already trained. These animals can be expensive, usually costing between $10,000 and $25,000 or more, but it would save you considerable time and effort in the training process and you could purchase and very quickly have an animal that is already trained to assist you with your needs. Also, fundraising help is available for families that need service animals from many non-profit organizations across the world.


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