Service Dog Training
Service dogs are defined in the Americans with Disabilities Act and are dogs that are specifically trained to help people with disabilities. As a Service Dog Coach (SDC), I help people with disabilities train their own dog to assist them as a service dog.
18 years of age or older. Exceptions to this requirement are possible on a case-by-case basis.
Able to attend training lessons for 1.5 years or longer. Sessions are held in your home (within my travel area), my office, and public places. I also offer board & train and day training options.
Able to commit daily time to practicing with your dog between appointments.
Have a disability as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Aware that you may end up with a dog that can only help at home or in places pets are allowed. Up to 50% of service dog candidates in programs are not able to complete training for public access.
Willing to wait until I evaluate your dog’s suitability and help you train your dog foundation skills before putting service dog identification on your dog and before taking your dog to places pets are not permitted.
Have support from your licensed healthcare provider for use of a service dog.
Have a support network and/or a co-trainer. Have support from your entire household.
Requirements for the Dog
No history of aggression towards dogs, people or other animals
No history of any serious behavior problems, like fear or separation anxiety
Under age 4, physically healthy
What is the difference between a service dog, an emotional support dog, and a therapy dog?
A service dog (SD) is a dog who is trained to perform tasks to mitigate his handler’s disability. They have public access with their human partner and can go anywhere the public is allowed.
An emotional support dog (ESD) helps with issues like anxiety disorders, and while they do provide a benefit to their partner and have more rights than a pet dog, they do not have full public access. They are allowed on planes (as of this writing) and in apartments with proper documentation.
A therapy dog (TD) is trained to go places such as hospitals and nursing homes to provide comfort to a variety of people (instead of just one partner, which is the case with a service or emotional support dog). TD’s do not have public access except to places they are invited to come and visit.
Public Access vs Home Helper:
If you have a need for public access with your service dog, keep in mind that just a small percentage of dogs are suited for this difficult task. A service dog in public must be perfectly behaved, ignore all sorts of distractions and completely focus on his handler. Even with the most carefully chosen puppy and all the right training, a dog may not be suited to this work.
If this is the case, consider ways that a dog can be helpful at home – retrieving objects, notifying another household member that you need help, opening doors, etc. A greater number of dogs can be trained for these tasks.
What type of training is available?
Mobility, Seizure Response, Hearing, PTSD
How long will this take?
The length of the program depends on a variety of factors:
Age of the dog: Expect 2 full years for a puppy.
Past training experience (quantity and quality): A dog who has already passed the Canine Good Citizen test – between 6 months and 1 year.
Dedication of the owner/trainer: Time spent training is directly relational to the success of the service dog team.
What’s the process and the cost?
Step 1: We begin with a phone appointment where we discuss your needs, identify tasks that would be helpful to train, review your dog’s behavioral history, educate you on reputable service dog informational resources and give you some training recommendations. No charge.
Step 2: We conduct a 60 minute in-person evaluation of your dog. This is where we look at how your dog responds to some minor stressors and in a new situation to see if it is appropriate to begin training him or her for service work. These evaluations are typically done in my office. FEE $60
Step 3: Training for service work if your dog is suitable. Process can include private training, drop-off day training, and/or board and train.
Package rate: $425 for first 5 session package, then $500 for subsequent 10 session packages. You will purchase as many packages as needed to complete training and follow-up sessions. These sessions can be one-on-one training, field trips, or drop-off day training.
Board and train can be considered a piece of the service dog training program: $650 for one week; $1300 for two weeks; $1800 for three weeks.
The first milestone for a service dog team is passing the Canine Good Citizen test. By this time, we will have a very good idea if the dog is suitable for service dog work.
After the CGC test is passed, we will concentrate on 3 special skills that mitigate your disability and focus on the Public Access test.
Step 4: Follow up support via phone and email is free for your ownership of the dog. Follow up training sessions are included in the package cost.
What if I don’t have a dog yet?
I can help with putting you in touch with reputable breeders and evaluate potential candidates for service dog work.