How Much Does It Cost to Train a Service Dog
Training a service dog can be a costly venture, but for those that need the help of a specialized canine, it’s priceless. However, it’s difficult to put a specific price on training a service dog. In this post, we are going to cover the basics to give you a better idea of what having a service dog entails, both for your own canine and one specifically purchased or adopted for service.
How Much Will it Cost to Train My Dog to be a Service Dog?
If you already have a dog and want to have him trained for service, the cost will depend on the dog itself (how much obedience the dog has learned) what the tasks are your dog will need to perform (will he be alerting, helping with simple tasks or there for emotional support) and how much time you or a handler can devote to training your dog.
For a canine with previous obedience training it can take anywhere from four to six months to be trained just for a task service, but again this will depend on exactly what the dog needs to accomplish and how fast he can pick up on the training. In addition, the canine will also be expected to be able to perform these specific tasks in different environments – most dogs can take up to two years to become fully trained for public access.
Depending on what part of the world you are in, professional dog trainers can start around $150/hour up to $250/hour. This can run into thousands of dollars and will, once again, depend greatly on the dog you are training for service and what he needs to be able to perform.
How Much Will it Cost to Receive a Service Dog?
If you want to take the other route and apply for a dog that is already trained for service, you are looking at an even higher cost.
Service dogs are usually chosen from a breeder that breeds the canines just for the service industry. That means the parents of these dogs and their offspring have shown the qualities that are sought after in a trainable/service dog. However, not all service dogs start out from service-stock, some can be chosen from other sources because they demonstrate the proper skills (ie temperament, intelligence, willingness to learn etc.) needed to be a service dog.
Most service dogs start off their training as a puppy and go through the basic obedience and social skills needed to be a service dog. At around 6 months of age, the puppy will then be put into the hands of a trainer that can take the dog into the next phase of its training. These would include task and public access skills. Once the dog has mastered all of the skills it needs, it will be ready to help a person needing a service canine.
As you can imagine, the cost of taking a puppy and training it up into the ways of a service dog is not cheap. In fact, again depending on your location, specialized service dogs can run upwards of $25,000 dollars. This includes the cost of the puppy, medical bills, training and the fees it entails to apply for a service dog.
If you need a service dog for alerting or emotional support, then the costs may be considerably lower, as these types of canines do not receive the intense training a dog would for a physically disabled individual.
Service Dogs & You
If you feel you may benefit from a service dog, ask your healthcare provider if he/she agrees that your condition mitigates having one of these canines. Your doctor will have to put in writing that your disability fits under the required definition of “disabled” in your country. You will then have to go through an agency to get your service dog, where you will be asked more questions regarding what exactly you will need the dog to do for you. This helps the agency determine how specialized the dog will need to be in order to help you. Once all your paperwork is in order, then you will be put on a list for your service dog and usually (depending on the agency) a down payment and applicable fees will be required of you to pay at that time.
Can You Put a Price on Your Wellbeing?
Service dogs help those that are physically or mentally challenged live a better life. Yes, service dogs can be costly, but allowing a person to gain back their independence and giving them the opportunity to do and be all they can be, well, that’s priceless.
If you are not ready to train your dog to become a service dog, you may be interested in certifying your dog to become an Emotional Support Animal. For more information on Emotional Support Animals, here is a helpful article.