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. However, these programs are not always the right fit for some individuals and types of disabilities. For those who do not have access to a program-trained dog, owner training is a fundamentally important right, and access to the correct information and proper support is essential.

JPDT's Service Dog program focuses on perfecting obedience, socialization and teamwork skills while simultaneously training the essential tasks that mitigate a disability. 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 and standards.


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. 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.

2. Ease of Management: Having a dog when in public can actually add stress and difficulty in daily routines. 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 have the self control and management in order to free their handler to focus on their own tasks.

3. 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.


JPDT Service Dog program priorities

Every person who needs to train their own service dog will have a journey that is individualized to them, but no matter where the dog is sourced or what tasks an individual needs, the priorities that stay consistent through training remain the same.

1. Emotional and behavioral health of the dog
The very first priority, and the aspect of training most fundamental to all other service dog training, is establishing an emotionally and behaviorally healthy dog. We will always return to building confidence and stability if the dog needs additional support.

2. High levels of obedience and communication
While predicated on the emotional and behavioral health of the dog, another fundamental trait of a service dog is quick and easy communication paired with consistent and natural obedience.

3. Task Training
Task training is the central and ultimate goal of a service dog, and will always be something that is returned to when the other foundations of emotional health and obedience are built.


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