Perhaps you have noticed that your dog is intelligent, obedient, and good at picking up on new commands. Maybe you have wondered about ways to put these skills to good use. Service dog training is an excellent option for people who want to make the most of their dog’s talents.
Service dogs can perform a variety of functions, including aiding deaf and hearing impaired people in their everyday lives, detecting allergens for people with allergies and helping veterans to deal with PTSD.
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There are plenty of options when you enter your dog in for service dog training. However, there are a few key questions that you need to ask yourself before you undertake this training with your dog. Below, you will find a handy guide to service dog training and what it entails.
Can my dog be a service dog?
Service dog training is not for every canine! Your dog will need to have several qualities, chief among which are a friendly, calm and docile temperament, the ability to respond to cues and the ability to learn new skills.
If you wish to enter your dog for service dog training in something like allergen detection, then they will also need to have a keen sense of smell.
It can be an excellent idea to take your dog in for a preliminary assessment to see if they have what it takes to start training as a service dog before you spend any money on a training course for them.
How long does the training take?
The length of the training will depend on several factors, including your dog’s age and their readiness to learn. It can be easier to train puppies to be service dogs as they have yet to lay down habits that need to be ‘unlearned’ to turn them into the perfect service companion!
It is not uncommon for the training to take over a year to complete. However, it is also not unusual for the training to take just 4-6 months. It does depend on the temperament of your dog. On average, though, you should expect to set aside a year within which your dog can aim to complete their service dog training.
How much will it cost to train my dog as a service dog?
Again, there is no single answer to this question. It depends on the age of your dog, the length of the training that they undergo and also the particular training center that you work with.
If your dog is already very obedient, then they may well need the basic service dog training. If they are not so obedient, then additional training is likely to be required – at an additional cost – to teach them the obedience that they need to be a good service dog.
Besides, different types of service dog training may well have different price tags attached to it. Training your dog as an allergen detecting canine may cost more or may cost less than training them to be a companion to a neurologically impaired person, for example.
However, that said, most service dog training falls within the price brackets of $4000 – $11, 000. If your dog is a very obedient young dog with no bad habits, and if you as their owner have time to be hands and help them practice their new skills, on you could spend as little as $3000 on training.
However, if your pooch needs to undergo extensive obedience training at a training center and you do not have time to practice with them, then you could be looking at a bill of $12, 000 for more than a year of training. Again, an initial assessment will be helpful here: the assessor will help you to understand how much training your dog needs, and at what price.
About the service dog vest.
Certified service dogs should only wear service dog vests. That is because these vests carry with them certain benefits that ought to be earned by service dog training.
For example, service dogs are usually automatically allowed on planes with their human companions, and they are also (sometimes actually by law) allowed to enter shops and other public spaces that are designated ‘no dogs allowed – except service dogs’.
There are penalties (including fines and jail time) for misuse of the vest.