Service dogs are so expensive that a majority of disabled people opt to train their own rather than fundraise or take a loan to buy a fully trained one. There are over 80 million service dogs in America that serve as companions and working partners to people living with disabilities. Service dogs are specifically trained to help persons with disabilities navigate through life and perform various tasks. If you are interested in training a service dog, you are likely to need the help of a professional training firm. When looking for service dog training in Punta Gorda FL go here.
Persons with disabilities are allowed by the ADA to train their own service dogs. This accommodation was to enable those that cannot afford to hire professional service dog trainers the opportunity to benefit from service dogs. Training service dogs takes special skills that you will have to learn using educational material like books and training videos made by professionals. This article will highlight the various considerations that are important when training service dogs without professional assistance.
How to Select the Right Dog for Service Training
The first step is choosing the right dog. Not all dogs have the capability and temperament to become excellent service dogs. The most common service dogs are from breeds like Labradors, German shepherds and Golden Retrievers. You will need to keep your eye out for a dog that is calm even in unfamiliar settings. Dogs that are keen, alert and not reactive (or easily agitated) are also good candidates for service dogs. Other qualities to look out for include eagerness to please, ability to learn and retain new information, reliability to perform repetitive tasks consistently and the capability to be socialized in different environments and situations.
How to Train Your Own Service Dog
After selecting a candidate dog for service training, you will need to work with it to build some foundational skills. The first stage of training a service dog is like that of any other dog, house training. This includes basic commands like come, sit and stay. Potty training is another crucial part of a house training your dog. After you have trained the dog to obey your commands in the controlled home environment, you will then need to socialize the dog.
Socializing your dog means training it to obey your commands and remain focused even in the presence of new people, animals, sights, places, scents and sounds. Once your dog is able to tune out distractions and temptations (like chasing squirrels), it will be ready to learn the more complex tasks that you may require of it. There are multiple websites that provide helpful and sometimes free educational materials that provide benchmarks and guidelines for training your service dog in various tasks that will make life significantly simpler for you.
How Long Does It Take to Train a Service Dog?
Service dogs are quite expensive because it takes a special dog and a lot of time to get the job done right. The International Association of Assistance Dog Partners recommends that service dogs are trained for a minimum of 120 hours over the span of 6 months. This time allows the dog to master the various aspects of training mentioned above. They also recommend that the dog works at least 30 hours in social settings to test their skills and reinforce unobtrusiveness and responsiveness in various public places.
How Do Dogs Qualify to Be Considered Service Dogs?
Not all dogs that help people are legally considered service dogs. Service dogs and their owners have extra legal rights that are not afforded to dogs that do not meet these qualifications. Only service dogs are allowed to access all public facilities (e.g., restaurants and parks), even those that have a strict no pets’ policy. Service dogs are only those that are equipped with special skills that help a person with disabilities improve their quality of life. Emotional support animals (including dogs) are not considered service dogs because they can also be used by persons without a disability.
Even though most dogs that wear vests and identifying tags are service dogs, the law does not require service dogs to wear any identifying markers. If you opt to purchase a fully trained service dog, ensure that it has the special training to aid in your day-to-day activities to cement its legal classification as a service dog. People with disabilities have been warned to be on the lookout for fraudsters selling fake service dogs at hefty prices. Ensure sellers demonstrate the dog’s skills and training before making any payments.