Service dog training and certification


What defines a service dog


The Americans with Disabilities Act defines a Service Dog as "any dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability." Tasks performed can include, among other things, pulling a wheelchair, retrieving dropped items, alerting a person to a sound, alerting a diabetic to a change in blood sugar, reminding a person to take medication, or pressing an elevator button.

Emotional support animals, comfort animals, and therapy dogs are not service animals under Title II and Title III of the ADA. The work or tasks performed by a service animal must be directly related to the individual’s disability. It does not matter if a person has a note from a doctor that states that the person has a disability and needs to have the animal for emotional support. A doctor’s letter does not turn an animal into a service animal.

Emotional Support Animals are not given public access, though they can serve a very important role in the life of a person living with anxiety, depression or another psychiatric disorder. While there is no certification or training legally required, a well-behaved, stable dog is necessary to promote the emotional health of the handler, and training can ALWAYS help increase the bond and trust between the pair. If you are interested in training your dog to become your ESA, contact us today. 


JPDT service dog program: about


There are many Service Dog organizations that raise, train and place fully trained Service Dogs to people who need one (in fact, Kasey is the head trainer and executive director of Joyful Paws Service Dogs, a local nonprofit organization that does this). However, these programs are often expensive, limited (as in the case of JPSD) or have specific requirements for acceptance into the program. For those who are unable to afford or find a good fit, self-training becomes a reasonable option. 

JPDT's Service Dog program focuses on perfecting obedience, socialization and teamwork skills before beginning both task training and public access training. Every dog and handler progress at different paces, so some may complete the program earlier than others, though most can expect to train for 1.5-2 years total. 

JPDT does not wish to identify a dog with sub-par behavior and training as a service dog, and therefore public access training will always wait until both dog and handler are proficient enough to be a good example of a service dog team while in public. JPDT seeks to encourage others to put time and effort into their service dog training, and therefore every dog who works with us must be a good representation of appropriate training practices. 

JPDT Service DOg Program: Standards

Joyful Paws seeks to bring all their Service Dog teams to high standards of behavior and training. There are 4 reasons for these high standards:

1: Legal Standards. The ADA is clear that dogs must be trained to perform tasks that mitigate a disability and must not cause any safety or health risks in public. 

2. Ettiquette. If someone is afraid of dogs, allergic to dogs or just flat out doesn't like dogs, they have the right to go into a restaurant or other public space without being bothered by a hairy, scary and excitable dog. We teach all our dogs to be unobtrusive, calm and behaviorally sound when in public. 

3. Ease of Management: Having a dog when in public can be an extremely stressful thing. Having to physically intervene when your dog pulls on the leash or tries to eat food off the ground gets exhausting. We train to high standards so these dogs become nearly self sufficient and many repetitive behaviors become automatic. 

4. Fulfilling their Purpose: A service dog is only permitted in public so that he may perform a task in order to mitigate your disability. If he is distracted, excitable or nervous he is unlikely to perform. Rigorous training is the only way to ensure that your dog is willing and able to perform his tasks in all situations.


JPDT Service Dog program: Layout and cost

For someone who does not have an existing pet who would be an appropriate candidate for Service Dog training, the average training plan will look similar to the one laid out below. Kasey will always personalize training plans depending on dogs abilities, handler abilities and any behavioral issues that arise while training; many teams may be successful without as many private lessons, which will lower the cost considerably. The average fully trained service dog would take roughly 2 years and cost between $2,500-3,500.

0 Months: 2 Private Lessons to choose an appropriate candidate (through breeder or local rescue): $120

2-6 Months: Puppy Obedience, Level One Obedience, 6 Private Lessons ($800)

6-12 Months: Canine Good Citizen, Clicker Training, 6 Private Lessons ($800)

12-18 Months: Rally Obedience, Public Access Training, Training Seminar, 6 Private Lessons ($1,050)

18 Months - Adult: Supplemental Public Access Training, 6 Private Lessons to complete training ($550)


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