How Do I Get a Service Dog?

How Do I Get a Service Dog?

Author WDF Staff


Dogs are amazing animals. They have played a vital role in human development and have worked closely with us through history. They have protected us, helped us hunt for food, protected livestock, and helped us haul heavy loads through vast distances. These days, dogs play a slightly different role. They are our companions and pets, and more often than not, they are a part of the family.

However, dogs still have an essential role to play - they are entrusted with service dogs’ role. Service dogs can help people with disabilities with their everyday life. They can act as our eyes, ears, and even legs. Service dogs can make a disabled person’s life a lot easier and more independent. If you think a service dog could make your life a lot easier, you are probably wondering, “How do I get a service dog?” Here is a helpful guide on how to get a service dog.

1. Situation assessment

The first thing you need to do absolutely right is situation assessment. Make sure you as an individual will actually benefit from a service dog. Most importantly, make sure you qualify for one. You can check all requirements on the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) website. People with these conditions qualify for a service dog:

  • Hearing loss
  • Vision loss
  • PTSD
  • Epilepsy
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Autism
  • Scoliosis
  • Cancer

two labrador service dogs

However, not all cases all eligible. It will depend on how complex the situation is. Make sure your home is dog-friendly. Service dogs need to be close to their owners at all times, so it makes sense the service dog should have a clear path to all rooms their owners need to go to. And last but not least, service dogs are a significant financial investment. They are worth every penny, but it is nevertheless a thing you should be aware of.

If you want to know more about service dogs, check out this article - Service dog training.

2. Choosing a breed

There are specific breeds that are skillful service dogs, and not all breeds are equally equipped or capable of being service dogs. These dogs have to be trainable, intelligent, reasonably active, and most of all, capable of doing the task that a disabled person needs. For example, a seeing-eye dog needs to be focused only on their owner. They shouldn’t react to different things in their environments.

An essential part of the answer to the question “How do I get a service dog?” is choosing the right breed. Some owners might need a dog capable of reaching supplies in high places, and small breeds like the Beagle cannot do that. People rarely think about Great Danes as service dogs, but people who have trouble moving will benefit from a large dog that can support their weight.

If you are not sure where to start or which breed might be the best for you, you can simply contact your doctor or a vet. They have a lot of experience in that area (or at least they should have), and they can give you great advice or point you in the right direction. They can also help guide you through the process and help you find out how to get a therapy dog. Some of the most common service dog breeds are:

3. Research providers

Training your own service dog might be an option, but it is not a cheap one nor a quick one. Service dog training takes years to complete, and you need to have plenty of dog training experience to train a service dog. Luckily, different agencies work with and train service dogs.

guide dog with blind man

These agencies can be great partners that can give you an answer on how to get a therapy dog. They have dog trainers that work and raise different service dogs and put them up for adoption. Some of the agencies you can look into are;

4. Make your home puppy friendly

It doesn’t matter what your living situation is; you will have to adapt your home for a dog. You are not getting just a personal service dog; you are getting a roommate that has needs. There are supplies you will have to get and things to provide for your service dog. It is best to be prepared even before the dog arrives at your home. Some of the things you might need are:

5. Start the bonding process

Service dogs are still dogs. They love playing and cuddling, especially after the two of you develop a strong bond. This is the animal that should have your complete trust, and your dog must trust you. Take enough time, especially at the beginning of your relationship, to bond with your dog. Learn about their quirks, habits, and their character. They need to be capable workers, but remember - they are also your best friend.

therapy dog in training

If you decide to get a service dog through an agency, they will most likely organize training sessions for you and your dog. That is a great way to get to know them. Your bond will start forming there. Don’t panic if there are some errors at the beginning. It will take time to get on the same level; it is all a part of a normal process.

Service dogs and emotional support dogs are not the same. Check out this article for more information - Emotional Support Dogs.

World Dog Finder team

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