Can My Dog Be A Service Dog?
To be designated as a service dog in San Mateo County or in Santa Clara County (and to be allowed access to all public spaces and modes of transportation) a dog must perform one or more physical tasks for its owner that the owner is unable to do. Some of these tasks include alerting deaf owners to sounds (doorbells and telephones), retrieving objects, and acting as aids in balance. Owners of designated service dogs are exempt from carrying liability insurance for their dog and from paying licensing fees for their dog in San Mateo County. To contact the information desk in San Mateo County for guidelines for service dogs go to www.smcgov.org and review the animal licensing requirements. Dogs can be trained in specific tasks to help persons suffering from anxiety or depression. Call us to discuss what tasks your dog might be capable of doing for you that would potentially decrease your requirements for medication. For complete information on service dog access refer to The Americans with Disabilities Act: www.ada.gov, or call the San Francisco Department of Justice at: 1-(800)-514-0301.
What Breed Of Dog Can Be A Service Dog?
The breed of the dog is not the limiting factor. It is the task the owner wants the dog to perform. Small and medium-sized dogs (Terriers, Shelties, Mixed Breeds) can perform retrieving tasks and alert their owners to sounds. Larger breeds (Retrievers, German Shepherds, etc.) can assist their owners to balance when they rise from a sitting position or when they climb stairs. If your dog is not a suitable candidate for the tasks you require, we can assist you in selecting the appropriate dog for your service.
How Long Does The Training Take?
The duration of the training program is highly individualized depending on how quickly the dog learns, how complex the tasks are and how much practice the owner does with the dog. It will take six months to a year for an owner to fully train a service dog for safety in all public situations. For those persons who plan to only use the dog within their home, they can train the dog faster without the distractions inherent in working in a public forum. If you are in a hurry or if you are not physically able to train the dog, it is best to employ a professional trainer to do all the training with your pet and then have the trainer teach you how to guide the dog to perform as you wish. This is referred to as Day Training.
How Much Will It Cost To Train My Dog as a Service Dog?
The total cost is variable depending on the behaviors the dog is being trained to perform, the previous obedience training the dog has had, and the amount of time the owner/ trainer can devote to the training practice. With a dog who has advanced behavior skills, task training can take four to six months depending on the complexity of the tasks. The dog will need to demonstrate the ability to perform the task in various environments. Most dogs require 1-2 years to become a service dog and be fully trained in public access skills. The training cost of working with a professional trainer at $150 an hour would be about $7,200 a year. This is a fraction of the $25,000 it would cost you to purchase a fully trained service dog. Having a dog that can retrieve mail, dropped keys and other objects for you when you live alone, have poor balance or use a walker is invaluable. You can teach the dog tasks that reduce your chances of falling and injuring yourself.
What Are The Steps To Transform My Dog Into A Service Dog?
Initial evaluation: At this 90 min. session the dog’s temperament and obedience skills, as well as the owner’s disabilities and training goals are discussed. The home training environment and the involvement of other family members in the training are also considered. This evaluation becomes the basis for creating a customized training program. At this session we can begin right away on some behavior training.
Follow-up: Additional 60 minute sessions are scheduled for 1-2 times a week depending on how quickly the owner wants to progress, and how much time he or she can devote to training. In those situations where the owner cannot train because of physical limitations or time restrictions, a customized program with the trainer doing all the instruction (day training) can be arranged. Having a professional do the training greatly speeds up the process.
Public Access: Your trainer can work with you and your dog in the daily situations and locales where you want to take your dog. You will be provided with a record of your dog’s training that you can use to obtain the service dog designation from your local jurisdiction. Arrangements can be made for your dog to qualify for the Canine Good Citizen designation—a valuable asset when you are a renter.
Contact us today for a phone interview and get started on your way towards having a dog that can provide you with safety and independence.