A Guide to Service Dog Training for People with DisabilitiesReading Time: 5 minutes
Service dogs are any physically disabled person’s best friend. They help them in their day-to-day lives and make living a lot easier. The biggest reason why they’re so useful is that they go through a service dog training program. It teaches them to open doors, navigate crowded streets, and much more.
The course is specially designed to teach service dogs how to help their disabled owners. After passing the service dog training program, they’re legally recognized as service working dogs. This allows them to help their owners successfully and gives them a lot of benefits in the eyes of the law!
An Assistance Animal: What is a Service Dog?
A service dog is a trained animal that aids disabled people live their best lives. You’ll see service dogs with people who have physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, and mental disabilities. They will be performing tasks their owner can’t so they can make their life easier.
Common tasks performed by service dogs include opening doors, switching on a light, helping a visually impaired person to cross the street safely, reminding their owner to take their meds, fetching dropped objects, and much more.
What About Emotional Support Animals for People?
Emotional support animals are also considered assistance animals. However, they’re not considered service dogs. The major difference is that they don’t go through a service dog training program. But they still help their mentally/emotionally disabled owners live a good life!
In short, an ESA is a companion for someone suffering from a mental or emotional disorder. They’re an awesome support system for these people. In fact, their presence is therapeutic, and ESAs are even prescribed to help their owners on their road to mental health!
Social Anxiety Support with a PTSD Dog
People who suffer from social anxiety can become emotional support dog owners. They will surely benefit from the soothing presence of their ESA. Plus, a dog is a great excuse to go out for a walk and meet new people in a relaxed way. ESAs make the lives of people with social anxiety disorder much better.
The Service Dog for Anxiety… It’s an Emotional Support Dog!
For all intents and purposes, an emotional support dog could be seen as a service dog for anxiety. But, in the eyes of the law, there’s a clear distinction between an emotional support dog and a service dog. For this reason, it’s important for you to know which laws protect your ESA and which don’t!
CertaPet Has Got Your Back: How to Get an Emotional Support Animal
Getting an emotional support animal in the United States and Canada is very straightforward. To be able to have your ESA by your side, you’ll need an emotional support letter. But don’t worry! CertaPet makes the whole process easy.
The first step to get your emotional support pet is to take CertaPet’s simple 5-minute pre-screening. If you qualify, we will put you in touch with a licensed mental health professional. From there, you’ll be able to talk to them and have them assess you.
Since an ESA doesn’t need to go through a service dog training course, you can choose virtually any dog to be your new companion. And that’s it! Easy, right?
5 Facts You Need to Know About the Service Dog Certification & Service Dog Training
If you’re confused about what service dog training and certifications are, don’t worry. We’ve come up with these five important facts to help you out.
- A service animal has to be either a dog or a miniature horse. No exceptions!
- The service dog training program these animals go through is very exigent. Service dogs have to become desensitized to mundane distractions, such as loud noises, traffic, and children.
- All service dogs are taught to serve their owner and cater to their disability. This is a crucial part of the service dog training.
- To become a service dog, canines have to attend at least 120 hours worth of service dog training classes. These classes need to be taken within a 6-month period.
- Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), you don’t need to register your service animal. Stay clear from companies charging you for a so-called service animal certification or registration!
Good Behavior and a Willingness to Learn! These Are Just Some of the Service Dog Requirements
The most important service dog requirement is that they’re, obviously, a dog. Miniature horses can also be accepted as service animals, but they’re nowhere near as common.
Other than that, there are some behavior and personality requirements for your dog. The best service dogs are calm—even when under pressure—fast learners, enjoy being around people, are able to focus on one activity, they’re not possessive, are confident but not stubborn, and easygoing.
While all dog breeds can potentially become a service dog, some are more suitable than others. This happens because, in general, they tend to round up all the traits that are desired in service dogs. Usually, they’re quick learners, eager to please, and well-built for physical tasks and labor. Plus, they make great life companions as well!
How to Make Your Dog a Service Dog? It’s All About Good Character!
If your puppy loves to learn, is able to stay focused, and is a fast learner, they could become your new service dog. With a lot of service dog training practice, that is!
These three qualities are already half the battle when choosing a service dog. But there are others related to their character that are equally as important. Here is a list of traits your service dog should have to help you in your day-to-day life effectively:
- eager to please
- not possessive
Don’t Want to Do the Training Yourself? Service Dog Training Near Me
A service dog must go through a service dog training program. This extremely long, complex, and complicated process is not an easy task for every owner. If you wanted to, you could train your pup yourself, but it’s very hard to.
So, if you don’t want to spend hours (almost entire days) training your service animal, you don’t have to. There are professional service dog trainers who have a lot of experience in this area.
Not only will it free you from the burden of having to train your dog, but they also ensure your service dog gets the best training experience possible.
Service dog training centers are very common in the United States. A simple Google search for “service dog training near me” will show you plenty of results. Here is a list of some training centers with very good reputations:
- Medical Mutts – Indianapolis IN
- Canine Partners For Life – Cochranville, PA
- Little Angel Service Dogs – California
- New York Therapy Animals – New York
- Hudson Valley Paws – New York region
- New Horizon Service Dogs – Florida
- Freedom Service Dogs – Denver, CO
Assistance Dogs International
Assistance Dogs International (ADI) is a collection of non-profit organizations that train and assign assistance dogs. They are based in almost every continent and have several chapters. The North American chapter, commonly referred to as ADINA, handles everything related to assistance animals in North America.
They’re there to answer any specific questions you may have. Do you want to know how you can train your service-dog-to-be? Or maybe want some recommendations of service dog training centers to enroll your dog in? If so, Assistance Dogs International is there to help.
5 Tips on How to Train a Service Dog Yourself! Yes, You Can Do It Too!
Getting your service-animal-to-be professionally trained can end up being very expensive. Doing it yourself is an obviously much cheaper option. But there are some things you should keep in mind if you decide to venture out and do it on your own!
- Hire a professional dog trainer to help you train your service dog. Doing it all by yourself is very hard!
- Be patient — very patient. Training a service dog is not just like training a pet. There’s much more to it than teaching them where to go potty, to sit, and to roll. Service dog training can take years, usually at least two!
- Research the best training techniques for your dog. Does your dog respond well to positive reinforcement? Do they react well to you using a dog whistle? It all depends on each dog.
- Lay out a clear and consistent training routine. Dogs learn best if they have a routine they have to follow.
- Choose a dog breed that isn’t stubborn, is eager to please, and learn quickly and easily.
Got Your Own Dog? Here’s How to Make Make My Dog a Service Dog
If you already own a dog, you won’t need to buy or adopt one. As long as your pup is eager to learn, patient, not protective, and calm, they can be a wonderful service dog.
Now that you have your puppy ready to be made a service dog, there are a few things you need to know.
First Things First: Put Your Dog Through Service Dog Training Courses
All service animals (whether dogs or miniature horses) have to be trained. If they’re not trained, they can’t be considered service animals.
This service dog training they must go through isn’t a run-of-the-mill training program either. Service animals are specifically trained to perform the tasks their owner will need them to perform. This means teaching them to cross the road safely with their owner, turning on and off lights, reminding their owner about their medication, and more.
There are hundreds of training centers in the United States. Getting a professional to do all the work for you is the easiest (but not cheapest!) option. Simply enroll your puppy in one of these courses and watch their progress!
No, You Don’t Need to Register Them…
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) does not require you to register your service dog. However, you’ll find heaps of companies selling “service dog certifications” and “service dog registrations.” Since these documents don’t have any legal value, they’re not worth anything.
Stay away from these websites and save your hard-earned money to buy Fido a treat (or two!).
Getting Diagnosed: An Important Step!
It’s always important to have in mind that only disabled people may have a service animal with them. This means that your doctor needs to diagnose you with some disability before you can get a service animal.
However, a doctor’s letter stating your disability is not a service dog registration. It only proves that you may be entitled to a service dog.
Service Dog Training Can Help Pets Help People
There’s no doubt that service dog training courses and programs are absolutely necessary for service dogs. They need to be trained on how to successfully help people in their day-to-day lives. Blocking out distractions is just one of the things your dog will learn during their training sessions.
If you want a service dog that knows what they’re doing and how to help you, you need to train them. It will be not only beneficial to you but also to them! They’ll learn all about being a good companion and care provider.
Common Questions on Service Dog Training
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