How Long Does It Take To Train A Service Dog | DogBase
Service Dogs

How Long Does It Take To Train A Service Dog | DogBase

The reality of service dog training. How long does it take to train a service dog professionally, and what are the costs involved?
Almog Koren
6 min
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How Long Does It Take To Train A Service Dog

The number of service dogs is increasing each year, with an estimated 500,000 in the US, proving to be invaluable to those who need them. ¹

Service dog training takes a lot of time, anywhere from months to years. Dedication is needed from the trainer and the dog since they have to learn how to handle their owner's disability and behave correctly in public.

So, how long does it take to train a service dog, and what does service dog training cost? 

We’ve got all the details you need to know below.

The Role Of A Service Dog

The Role Of A Service Dog

To understand why service dog training takes so long, it’s important to understand what service dogs do and their role. 

The Americans With Disabilities Act says service dogs are dogs that are trained individually to work or perform tasks for people who have disabilities. ²

Service dogs can help people with several disabilities, some tasks could include retrieving medication, alerting to seizures and blood sugar changes, or navigating.

A service dog can go anywhere due to they have public access rights, which means all kinds of transportation, restaurants, and other public spaces. ³

The Different Types Of Service Dogs 

There are different service dogs according to different disabilities. 

  • Mobility service dogs - To help with everyday tasks such as retrieving, pressing buttons, or to act as a brace partner if 55 pounds plus. Some may even be able to push wheelchairs. 
  • Psychiatric service dogs - For people suffering with anxiety, depression or PTSD. These dogs can help owners get back into the world and sense when panic attacks or PTSD flashbacks are happening. For war veterans, there is a great program known as the Wounded Warrior Service Dogs, providing service dogs at no cost to war veterans. PTSD service dogs make up over 19% of assistance dog partnerships globally.⁴
  • Autism service dogs - These dogs are perfect confidence boosters for people suffering with autism, they can prevent danger and also track a child with autism if they run away.
  • Diabetic/seizure alert service dogs - Trained to alert the owner to test if they sense high or low blood sugar. They can also set off alarms in case medical assistance is needed.⁵
  • Hearing service dogs - Ideal for increasing their owner's independence by leading them to certain places with cues. This could be hearing their name or the doorbell.
  • Eye seeing dogs - Trained for guiding their blind owner around obstacles, also known as guide dogs. Typically, they cost anywhere from $50,000-$60,000⁶ but many guide dogs can be provided free depending on the company or may require an adoption fee.⁷

How To Train A Service Dog

There are two ways you can do service dog training, either professionally or by training your service dog yourself. There is no legal requirement that your dog has to be trained professionally. ⁸

See If Your Dog Is Eligible For Service Dog Training

There are a few factors you need to consider if you want to do service dog training with your dog that will determine if they are up to the job. 

  • The age - Your dog should be over 6 months old and neutered/spayed. Some argue the younger the dog, the easier and more receptive it will be to training, but this isn’t always true. It’s great to start foundational training from when they are a puppy.
  • Temperament - A service dog's temperament should be calm and relaxed even in stressful situations. They shouldn’t get easily distracted.
  • Socialization - Your dog should have appropriate socialization skills. Exposure to people, different environments, and other animals from an early age will help with this.
Teach Your Dog Foundational Skills

Teach Your Dog Foundational Skills 

Before we can teach our service dog advanced tasks for our disabilities, we need to begin with foundational skills. These are skills such as being off the leash, eye contact, potty training, and commands such as sit, heel, and down.

Advance Task Training 

Advance task training is more complex. This can include learning to recognize low blood sugar, opening doors, responding to certain alerts, or retrieving objects.

Track Your Training

Service dog training takes a lot of time and dedication, and unless you are tracking your progress and staying on top of your schedule, you might not feel like you're getting anywhere. 

That’s where pieces of software like ours at DogBase come in handy. Over 200+ K9 Teams & Trainers use us to track their data, mark progress, and get suggestions on their dog training.

Do I Need A Certificate For My Service Dog?

Many people assume a service dog needs to be certified, but this isn’t true. ADA states that certification is not required.⁹ You can get various certifications online, but they will not be recognized by the government.

Certification can help as proof in the long run when you need it. For example, in the UK a service dogs needs certification to be able to access planes or taxis. You can get a service dog certified at various training centers, some may require to train the dog themselves or pass an exam. ¹⁰

How Long Service Dog Training Takes (Factors To Consider)

For those wondering, how long does it take to train a service dog? Well, there is no clear answer. Two years is a good estimate, but it may be quicker or longer depending on your tasks and the speed of learning the dog has. 

There are a few important factors that affect the time it takes for service dog training. 

  • Pre-existing behavior problems - If your service dog has previous behavior issues like reactivity or anxiety, this needs to be addressed first before you can move on.
  • Dogs energy - High-energy dogs can take a long time to train, since they have to be worn out enough to be able to work. They also need to be able to sit for long periods.
  • Dog's health - Just like our health, our dogs may run into health issues that can slow down training by a few weeks.
  • Time for training - How fast your dog learns to be a service dog depends on how much time you can put aside for training.
  • Training goals - Teaching your dog lots of different tasks will take more time than just one or two. Some tasks are also more complex than others.
How Much Does Service Dog Training Cost?

How Much Does Service Dog Training Cost?

Service dog training costs anything between $30,000 to $60,000¹¹ depending on the type, making it a costly investment, but worth it if you don’t have the time to undertake service dog training yourself.¹²

There are various funding sources you can try to use for financial assistance like Paws With A Cause or other grants.

Cost varies according to the breed of the dog, the tasks you are training it for, and other factors. 

It is more cost-effective to train a service dog yourself when possible. You can use software and online courses to help.

Make Dog Training More Efficient With DogBase

Whether you're getting a service dog professionally trained or training them yourself, Dog Base can help you keep track of your training and make sure everything is organized in one place.

With Dog Base software, you can log training sessions, track progress, and get AI-suggested improvements over time during your service dog training.

You can try Dog Base for 14 days with our free trial to see if it can help you meet your service dog training goals.

References

  1. https://www.atlasdog.org/2021/09/must-read-service-dog-statistics-2021/
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9491613/
  3. https://udservices.org/types-of-service-dogs/
  4. https://adata.org/guide/service-animals-and-emotional-support-animals#:~:text=Service%20Animal%20Defined%20by%20Title,intellectual%2C%20or%20other%20mental%20disability.
  5. https://www.medicalservicedogs.org/what-are-the-costs-associated-with-training-a-service-dog/
  6. https://www.hepper.com/how-much-is-a-guide-dog/
  7. https://www.guidingeyes.org/guide-dogs-101/#:~:text=How%20much%20does%20a%20guide,lifetime%20of%20follow%2Dup%20services
  8. https://adata.org/guide/service-animals-and-emotional-support-animals#:~:text=Service%20Animal%20Defined%20by%20Title,intellectual%2C%20or%20other%20mental%20disability.
  9. https://udservices.org/types-of-service-dogs/#:~:text=Service%20dogs%20play%20a%20vital,diabetes%2C%20epilepsy%2C%20or%20PTSD.
  10. https://www.servicedogcertifications.org/service-dog-requirements/#:~:text=The%20ADA%20does%20not%20require,handler's%20control%20at%20all%20times.
  11. https://www.servicedogcertifications.org/service-dog-requirements/
  12. https://pettable.com/blog/service-dog-training-cost

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