Service dogs are helpful companions that are highly trained and provide many benefits to their handlers.
If you think that you could benefit from having a service dog in your life, your first step is consulting with your medical provider. From there, you can start the process of obtaining a service dog.
Many individuals choose to train their own service dog, something we give you more details about below.
Am I Allowed to Train My Own Service Dog?
While some service dogs come from organizations and foundations that specialize in training service dogs for individuals in need, many individuals choose to train their own service dogs. This is allowed, as the Americans with Disabilities Act only states that your service dog will need to be trained to perform tasks that help you with your disability – they do not need to complete a specific program or be registered in any way.
For many, training their own service dog is a great way to start forming a bond with their dog in addition to ensuring that the tasks that their dog performs are directly related to their specific disability or assistance needs.
The type of service dogs that you may be able to train yourself include:
- Psychiatric service dogs
- Mobility or balance support dogs
- Guide dogs
- Medical alert service dogs
What Is the Best Way to Train My Service Dog?
The best way to train your service dog is to first think about the exact tasks you need your service dog to complete.
Create a list of all the things you might need assistance with such as: retrieving items, opening and closing doors, allergy detection, or guidance during panic attacks. You can list these tasks from the most basic and easiest to learn, to the most complex tasks.
Once you have figured out which tasks you need your service dog to assist you with, you can start the process of training. An online service dog training course is a great place to start as it is wallet friendly and allows you to work through the training at your own pace. This gives you enough time to ensure your dog fully learns each skill.
Always use positive reinforcement as you train your dog and be sure to work with them each day to maintain consistency. We recommend starting with the basics first and building on those as your dog becomes more skilled.
Who Qualifies for a Service Dog?
Any individual with a disability that impacts their daily life may qualify for a service dog. Speaking with your doctor or a licensed mental healthcare professional is the best way to determine if you are eligible for a service dog and if one of these companion animals will fit your treatment plan.
It’s important to note that any individual who has a service dog must be able to financially provide for them and physically care for them over the course of their life. Your service dog is around to help you, but they will also need to be treated well and properly cared for.
Examples of qualifying conditions that may require the assistance of a service dog include PTSD, OCD, visual impairments, hearing impairments, sensory disorders, diabetes, and severe allergic conditions.
What Are My Service Dog’s Rights?
After your service dog is fully trained, they will be able to accompany you into public places, even those that don’t typically allow animals inside such as restaurants, retail stores, and other businesses. You will be able to bring your service dog to work with you, and you will be allowed to travel with your service dog in an airline cabin alongside you.
These rights are federally protected and are designed to ensure that individuals with disabilities can access the same services as other individuals without discrimination or stress.
Benefiting From a Service Dog’s Assistance
Service dogs are incredibly helpful companions that are trained to help perform specific tasks that relieve the symptoms of an individual’s disability.
These dogs are typically intelligent and love working alongside their owners, and you can train your own service dog as long as you understand the time and patience commitment it might take to properly train your dog.
We suggest starting with an online service dog training course to get started with training and benefiting from your service dog’s assistance.