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How to Become a Service Dog

Besides being best companions some dogs can serve even a greater purpose. Service dogs are specially trained canines that provide help for people with different forms of disabilities.

While our blog’s mascot is a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, this applies to any breed.  Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are commonly seen as therapy dogs, however, they are easy to train and can also be trained to be service dogs for certain jobs.  To know the difference, scroll to the last video at the end of this article.

Testing your dog’s personality

Besides assisting physically challenged people, these dogs also perform tasks for people with mental disorders (PTSD, depression, anxiety). Stating that certain dog breeds aren’t fit to become service dogs is a myth. Any dog that went under proper training can become one. Smaller breeds are more suitable for medical alert services, while larger breeds are better for physical assistance.

Service dog training

First of all, you need to train your dog’s personality or better yet find a professional to do the examination. ‘Bad temper’ or ‘good temper’ won’t mean anything during the assessment. What you are looking for in a service dog are things like calm, collected, responsive or obedient. After grading the dog’s personality it’s time to start with the training. Every owner can do the training by himself, but service dog trainers have more experience and knowledge and will probably perform the action better. Since no training certification is required it’s okay to show that DIY spirit! Breeders often take the role of preparing service dogs, and sometimes even the person in need will start training the dog by his own if possible.

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Service dog training requirements

The amount of time spent is essential to fulfill the minimum requirements for service dog training. In the USA every trainer must spend at least 120 hours of training over the period of 6 – 24 month. It means that during a year or two the dog has to be trained at least one hour per day, every day. One quarter of the training should be spent in public places where the dog encounters surprising situations and various forms of distractions. What the dog needs to learn after the training is done is heeling, proofing and tasking. Heeling is about maintaining a constant position to the human partner and proofing means being constantly on command regardless of any occurring distractions. The two are hardest to learn and require patience and persistence. Tasking is the specific action the dog will be taught to perform.

Registering your dog

The dog competency will be questioned and that’s why you need to graphically document the training process and the dog’s behavior in public. Once the training is complete you can register your dog as a service dog. In the US this can be achieved with the USSDG (United States Service Dog Registry). After you come this far your dog is all set to serve a greater purpose.

Finding a person in need

The last thing you need to do in order for the canine to become a service dog is to find a person in need. If you already had someone in mind and trained your dog especially for this person it won’t be a problem. In other cases, you have to offer him to disabled people by placing the information on pet directories at your local organizations and community groups. Most public accommodations are legally available for service dogs, but always check first just in case.

What’s The Difference Between a Service Dog, Therapy Dog, and an Emotional Support Dog?

Service Dogs, Therapy Dogs and Emotional Support Animals. What’s the difference?

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