Service dog training provides a very important service for our disabled community and service dogs are priceless to their owners. Whether they simply lead a blind person carefully from place to place or they are providing companionship to someone that is unable to get out of bed, service dogs are a wonderful example of the abilities of our canines. If you are thinking about service dog training your dog as a service dog, here are some things to consider.
Tips for Service Dog Training
Is my dog a good candidate for service dog training?
Service dogs are good natured dogs that are able to be around every scenario socially without becoming rattled. They must be able to handle other animals being around and strangers on a regular basis. If your dog has these traits, you might have a potential service dog. If your dog gets easily rattled or is skittish in any way, they would probably not do well in service dog training. Dogs that are territorial or aggressive also would have a tough time in the role. You also need to make sure your dog is spayed or neutered to prevent them from wandering when in heat.
What are some basic commands that service dogs should know?
Service dogs have to be extremely dependable with the basic commands to be a good candidate. Sit, stay, lie down, heel and come are all commands that your dog will need to be able to do on request at a very high rate of success to be a good service dog. If they struggle with these basic commands even after training, you probably should consider something else. Giving them a solid base in the basic training commands is very important.
Explore with your dog in many social situations
Socialization is a very big deal with service dogs. Spend a ton of time out and about and see how your dog responds to different situations. How does he or she respond when other dogs come around? How about other cats? Squirrels?
These are the situations that can make or break a service dog. If your dog can’t remain calm and almost indifferent to these social situations, they will be unable to perform the tasks needed in service dog training.
Find a certified trainer to get your dog officially recognized as a service dog
Allowing a pro to train your dog is the best way to go about it if you are able to afford the lessons. If not, you can go it alone with some training materials and practice. Regardless, you will want to get your dog certified as a service dog when you are done. This is important because it will allow you to take your dog into places where dogs are usually not allowed and where you will need them the most.
To get certified, you will need some type of proof that your dog is capable and well trained. This can come from a veterinarian or any number of training places. You may also need a letter stating that you are in need of a service dog from your doctor. Certification rules vary so be sure to check with the one in your area, state or country.