Who can benefit from a service dog?

The ADA defines a service animal as any signal dog, guide dog, or any other animal trained to provide assistance to an individual with a disability. Remember, a Service dog is not a pet. If you are not disabled, then your pet cannot become a service dog unless you donate it for training as a service dog for someone who is disabled.

What are service dogs?

Service animals are highly skilled to perform some of the functions and tasks that an individual with a disability could not. But there are service animals that assist those with other disabilities in their everyday activities.

What makes a service dog special?

Obstacle Avoidance is when an obstacle is recognized, the dog is instructed to navigate around that obstacle. It must do so regardless of whether the best path lies to the left or right of the obstacle, and while not only sensing the dogs own path, but the path of his disabled partner as well.

Intelligent Disobedience is recognizing when there is an exception to a command and disobeying out of duty rather than disobeying because the dog is distracted. For example, if a guide dog is given a command to “forward” into a street, but it sees a car coming, the dog will intelligently disobey the command because it understands its dangerous to the handler to step into traffic.

What are the costs and requirements?

Demand for the service dog continues to rise, which means so does the expense of training them. The average cost in professionally training just one of these animals is roughly $15,000 -$20,000 between medical costs, training, boarding and fees for licensing.

It’s not as easy to train your own dog to become a Service dog as you might think. If you have never trained a dog before, please look into a dog trained in a program, assistance of a dog trainer to help you, or in a facility that has given you permission. If you are training a puppy, you must wait for it to finish growing before teaching it certain tasks.

A Public Access Test will evaluate your dog on performance of tasks and obedience commands, despite distractions commonly found in public accommodations. A dog becomes a full service dog when it meets the requirements of a full service dog. Since that would be is the last phase of training, passing all the tests is an indicator the dog is ready to work.

Good Luck!