How I Made My Dog a Service Dog

Everyone knows that dogs are man’s best friend, but some canines do even more to help and assist their owners than pet dogs by helping people with disabilities in immeasurable ways by becoming service dogs. These special animals do much more than just accompany their owners into public places – they help to be the eyes, ears and nose of their handlers, provide mobility assistance and can warn in case of danger. They are modern heroes and are magnificent animals to have around. If you have a puppy or a dog that you want utilize for service, you’re going to have to ask yourself whether or not you really want to invest in the long, time-consuming and expensive process. This isn’t an easy route to go down. With that in mind, consider these few notes in regards to getting your pet ready.

How to Make My Dog A Service Dog?

How to Train a Service Dog

The first step to making your dog a service dog is to invest in training. This has to be more than just basic obedience school. Service canines have to be taught how to do specific tasks, recognize certain cues, and assist a person with a physical or mental disability (such as mobility impairment, deafness, blindness, post-traumatic stress disorder [PTSD] or autism) or with the tasks and jobs that individuals need, both at home and while out and about. There are many elements that go into this type of education. Your animal will have to learn different commands and cues and excel at being patient and disciplined while working. Unfortunately, dogs that have a history of disobedience or have fearful or aggressive reactions to new people and situations probably will not be suitable candidates for service dog training.

Service dogs can be trained by their owner, by a professional dog trainer or by an organization, but unless you are an experienced dog trainer, it’s advisable to search for a dog training organization that trains assistance animals (the training process can be difficult and stressful for inexperienced trainers). A good service canine trainer will be able to dedicate a large amount of time to training your pet to be able to assist you with your disability or condition.


Service Dog Requirements

There are no official or legal requirements about how much training a dog has to undergo or what that training should involve in order to become a service dog. Because every animal that goes through the training program will have to perform different tasks and jobs for its handler, the training process with be unique for each dog based on the individual person’s needs.

The ADA (The American’s with Disabilities Act) states that a dog of any breed, size or age is eligible to become a service canine, but some breeds of dogs may not be appropriate for the kind of work they will need to do (for example, if you need a help balancing while walking a smaller dog breed may not be suitable, but if you need a hearing assistance dog or a medical alert dog a smaller breed may be ideal).

service dog harness

Look for local dog training businesses and organizations in your area and if possible speak to someone experienced about possibilities for your pet. As with all kinds of dog training, there are a diverse number of styles and techniques employed by trainers, and some trainers are more experienced and qualified than others. It’s a good idea to look for someone who specializes in training assistance dogs. You’ll be surprised at how rigorous the training can be, but some animals take to it easily and enjoy it.


Federal Laws Protecting Service Dogs

how to register a service dogUnder the ADA, no one is allowed to ask about the nature or kind of disability you have, or ask if your animal is trained or qualifies to be a service canine. Additionally, no one is allowed to ask to see certification or registration ID for your service dog, or for you to prove that your animal is trained to perform any tasks.

When in public with a service animal, you will be given full access to all public places, businesses, restaurants, hotels, apartments and airlines, even if they ban pet dogs.

While some people abuse these laws and register fake service animals to be able to take their own pets anywhere they want, most people can generally see whether a service dog is legitimate or not by whether it is well-trained and is actually assisting its handler with specific tasks.


Assistance Dog Certification

How to Register a Service Dog

an assistance dog at workAfter completing training you can choose to get your dog’s registration and certification. There is no officially organized certification or registration process in the US, but many service canine owners choose to register and certify their pets with one of the online businesses that offer this service so they can carry ID and have their dog wear a service dog vest and harness, making their working animal easy to identify by everyone. This is also true of therapy dogs and emotional support dogs. There are various websites that allow you to get your dog certified as a service dog with their own US service dog registry. Some of these companies are more reliable than others. You can also buy accessories from a major online retailer such as Amazon.

Nearly all disabled service canine handlers will buy their dog a clearly-labeled vest and harness and carry some identification with them (even though this isn’t legally required). This makes it easy for anyone observing to see that the dog is helping that person in their daily routines and should not be petted or approached like a pet.

Please note that a dog has to go through the rigorous process of being trained to reliably and consistently perform certain jobs by a competent trainer and its handler has to have a genuine life-altering physical or mental disability in order to qualify for a service canine. Many people are under the misapprehension that just taking their pet obedience school is enough to qualify the animal as being trained as a service animal, or that they can make their dog a service dog in order to take their companion with them where ever they go.


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