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How to Train Your Dog to Become a Service Dog

Service Dog training can be costly and if you have a mental or physical disability and can’t be on a waiting list for a long period of time, it is possible to train your dog. A service dog can be any size or breed. Labrador Retrievers, German Shepherds and Golden Retrievers are the service dogs that are most popular. The dog you choose needs to have the right personality, be unafraid, calm and willing to work.

Obedience Training – On the first ask your dog must respond to commands (basic commands and skilled tasks) in your home and in all public environments. The basic obedience skills that your dog should demonstrate are coming to you when he is called, walking next to you in a controlled position, lying down and staying in place responding to your voice or hand signals. Your dog should be well behaved at home as well as meeting the minimum standards for Assistance Dogs in Public.

Keep Your Dog Focused on You – Teach your dog not to show any aggressive behavior to people or other animals. While they are on duty, they should not bark, lung, growl, snarl, snap or bite and not accept food, being pet or sniffing merchandise from other people or intruding into another dog’s space.

Socialize Your Dog – Teach your dog to ignore food that is dropped on the floor near him while he is working outside of the house. Teach your dog to tolerate odors, sounds, strange sights in a wide variety of public settings such as grocery stores, elevators, bathrooms, movie theaters, churches, and shopping malls. Teach him how to maneuver through large crowds and not be distracted so he keeps his focus on the task of guarding you. Your dog should not show any unruly behavior or barking while out in the public. Give him a special command or signal to toilet in an appropriate place not out in public. Teach your dog to be trained while on his leash or without it. Neuter or spay your dog between four and six months of age so he will be less likely to drift to find females in heat or to mark territory. Your dog will be less aggressive if he is neutered which is very important for your service dog so he will not be distracted from his focus on you and your needs.

Certify Your Dog – The American’s with Disability Act does not require any certification for Service Dogs. This act protects people with all kinds of disabilities, visible as well as invisible. Businesses that serve the public are required to allow people with disabilities to bring their service animals with them to hotels, restaurants, taxicabs, concert halls, airlines, sports facilities and any places that the public has access to. By law you cannot be separated from other customers or be charged extra because of your service dog. By law you do not have to prove that your dog is a service do. If you do decide to certify your dog with NSAR you will have what documents you need if you were asked for proof. If your dog has a Service Animal patch and ID card displayed most all businesses with not ask about your dog.

You can purchase supplies on line for your service dog such as a reflective cool comfort vest, shirts, leashes with the words “Do Not Pet,” pet tags and many other important items.

A good service dog is people oriented and is confident but not dominant or submissive, not overactive and not protective, but to make disabled people more able.

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Please consult the services of a Professional Dog Trainer, Behaviorist or Veterinarian before implementing any of the advice contained on this site.