Can I Train My Dog to be a Service Dog? Is this something you should try? If you have a furry companion that you consider a part of your family, you may wonder if they can be trained to perform specific tasks. Perhaps you or a loved one has a disability or mental illness, and you’re seeking a service animal to help with everyday activities. Whatever your needs may be, training your dog to be a service dog can be a great option. In this blog post, we’ll discuss the basics of service dog training and how you can get started.
Types of Service Dogs
One important distinction to make when considering service dogs is the difference between emotional support animals (ESA), therapy dogs, and psychiatric service dogs (PSD). Emotional support dogs provide comfort and support through companionship for people with some degree of mental disability or traumatic stress disorder but aren’t trained to perform specific tasks– it aligns much more with a pet dog than a working dog. In contrast, a PSD is an assistance animal trained to perform tasks that assist with a person’s symptoms, such as helping with mobility, alerting to an oncoming panic attack, or interrupting repetitive and self-destructive behaviors.
Certain Tasks for Certain Disabilities
The first step in training your dog to be a service dog,= is that you’ll need to teach them specific tasks related to your disability. For example, if you have a visual impairment, your dog may need to guide you through public spaces or retrieve objects for you. If you have a psychiatric disability or mental illness, they may need to interrupt self-destructive behaviors or alert you to a panic attack. The tasks your dog should be trained for depend on your specific needs, and it’s essential to work with a professional trainer during this process.
If you’d rather someone else train your own service dog, search around for a service dog training program or service dog program near you. There may also be group classes available to you.
Not All Dogs Are Suitable To Be Service Animals
It’s important to note that not all dogs are suitable for service work, and there are some breed restrictions. Some dogs may be too timid or anxious in public spaces, while other breeds of dogs may not have the temperament required for psychiatric service animals. Additionally, certain breeds and mixed-breed dogs may be limited in the service work they can perform. For example, breeds such as Labrador Retrievers and Golden Retrievers are commonly used as guide dogs or as service dogs to detect seizures, but dogs that are brachycephalic will likely not be a good candidate.
Understand Your Legal Rights
If you’re interested in training your own dog as a service dog, it’s important to understand your legal rights. According to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in the United States, individuals with disabilities have the right to train their own service animals. This means that if your dog is trained to perform a specific action related to your disability and behaves appropriately in public spaces, they can legally accompany you to public places such as restaurants and stores. This is called public access rights.
However, keep in mind that while the ADA protects the rights of service dog handlers, a business owner can still ask questions about whether the animal is a service animal or a therapy animal and what tasks or service dog work the animal has been trained to perform. If your dog isn’t trained to perform specific tasks to assist with your disability, it’s still possible to have them serve as a therapy dog, which provides comfort and companionship.
While training your own dog to be a service dog can sound like a daunting task, it’s possible with the support of a professional trainer. They are a great help in the process. Remember to determine whether an emotional support animal or a psychiatric service dog will better serve your needs, research the tasks related to your disability, and keep aware of legal rights and limitations in public spaces. With the proper training and time, your furry friend may be able to assist with everyday tasks and provide comfort and support during your day-to-day life.