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So You Want a Service Dog

Updated: Jun 25, 2021

So either you’re interested in a service dog or your doctor recommended one and now you’re stuck. A quick google search brings up sites like ESA doctor and others that promise that with a quick payment of $150 you too can certify your pet to be a service dog. But people keep telling you that it’s wrong.

So now what?

Well luckily you clicked on my website! The USA is a bit different than other countries. Here you’re allowed to do whats called owner trained service dogs. This though does not mean that you train entirely by yourself. Instead it allows you to train a dog without going through a program. We’ll get to that later though.

Your first step is to speak to your doctor or licensed professional about this. In most cases you will need their backing in order to fully utilize your service dog. If you want to rent a home, fly, or get a workplace accommodation you’ll often need a letter from your doc saying “Yes Jane Doe does in fact need a service dog”, this though does not “certify” that your dog is a service dog. It’s just one piece of the puzzle.

Next after approval from your doctor you should look at any programs that are available to you. It all depends on what disability you have, where you live, are you a veteran, and so on. Thankfully the ADI website makes this super easy.

Now the price can range anywhere from $0- $25,000. Don’t let this scare you as these orgs will try their best to help you find grants or fund raise. There are also orgs that aren’t ADI accredited but I don’t recommend them as many are just cash grabs to take advantage of the disabled.

Now what? Well every org has different requirements. Some want you to write an essay on why you need one, others want outside essays from friends or family, and some want videos on where you live and where you work so they have a better sense of your day to day life. But what if the orgs around me have too long of a wait list or there’s no orgs that handle my disability?

Then this is where owner training comes in handy. The reason why I don’t recommend it is because it’s hard to train a dog. It’s even harder when your disabled. The steps are basically the same though. Get approval from your doc and then find a dog to start training. Whether you get a puppy or a 1 year old dog it’s still the same as well. You’ll want to spend at least 6 months on basic obedience. It isn’t until you have a firm grasp on the basics that you can go on to work on public access and tasks.

But as long as your dog is 1.) housebroken and 2.) knows a task to mitigate your disability your dog is a service dog in the eyes of the public. You are representing not only yourself but others in the community. Set an example for those currently and the future.

If you'd like help with training please feel free to contact me for a consult or session. Although I can only assist with training for psychiatric disabilities and not mobility or guide work.

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