Posts Tagged ‘service dog breed’

The first step in beginning the training of a service dog is finding the right service dog prospect. Although most dogs do well in typical dog training, service dog training programs operate at a superior level. A service dog’s work goes above and beyond the usual tasks required of a pet, making the selection of an appropriate service dog prospect vital to having a successful service dog. 

What is a Service Dog?

The Department of Justice’s Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) defines a service dog as a dog trained to perform a task(s) directly related to their handler’s disability. Under federal law, service dogs may follow their handler into areas where pets aren’t usually allowed. 

Service dogs assist people with disabilities through tasks like visual guidance, helping them to walk or move, and obtaining medication. Because service dogs offer such vital assistance to a person’s health and safety, service dogs have rights that regular pets do not.

Why Can’t Any Dog Be a Service Dog?

As adorable, loyal, and fun most dogs are, they’re not cut out for the life of a service dog. Just like humans, dogs have a broad range of temperaments and personalities. Some dogs are quicker to become frustrated or give up. Other dogs may not have the ability to maintain their focus for long periods. Even with traits like these, dogs who are difficult to train or find it challenging to focus can be loving and joyful pets. As service dogs, however, these traits get in the way of staying on top of their demanding jobs.

Finding the right prospect for service dog training increases the likelihood that you will end up with a successful service dog that’s right for you. 

The unfortunate truth is most dogs cannot be service dogs. They make great pets but aren’t ideal for performing daily service dog work. Choosing the wrong dog can mean months of training for a dog that, in the end, can’t complete the job they were trained for. The wrong dog can also be a costly choice.

Choosing a Breed

Before searching for a prospective service dog, take inventory of the tasks the service dog needs to perform to assist with your disability. Gearing your search towards fulfilling the necessary service dog duties can make finding a service dog much more manageable. For instance, a small pomeranian wouldn’t be a safe choice for an adult male looking for a dog to prevent him from falling. Choosing the right breed starts with picking the right size of dog for the tasks and environment.

Another important factor is to determine whether you are allergic to dogs. If so, you may want to look for a hypoallergenic dog breed that suits your needs. 

As cute as the dog may be, when choosing a service dog prospect, the characteristic traits and ability to perform tasks are more important than the looks. Choosing the Right Age

It’s tempting to choose puppies because they seem like a blank slate, but it’s difficult to predict the traits a puppy will have once they’re all grown-up. Adolescent dogs may be a viable option, as long as their social and environmental background is known. Yet, just like humans, adolescence is a tumultuous phase. A new home and the training may affect their development and temperament. However, when a dog is about 18-months old to three years old, their dispositions are more solidified. 

Choosing the Right Traits

Training a service dog is hard work for the trainer and the dog. Finding a dog with the right characteristics for service dog work helps to make the process less challenging. The following is a list of character traits that you may want to consider when looking for your service dog:

Motivated by food or toys Medium level of energy (enough to work, but not overly stimulated) Adaptable to many different situations Graceful, not clumsy A desire to please and interact Not reactive if someone accidentally injures him or her Not anxious or jumpy Trusting and eager to please Has a desire to interact with people Able to focus, not easily distracted Does not startle easily Making Sure Your Prospect is Healthy

Once you believe you’ve found an appropriate service dog prospect, it’s crucial to assess the dog’s health. A service dog is a costly investment. You want to ensure that the dog can physically execute the tasks it needs to fulfill. Have prospects x-rayed and conduct a health exam at a veterinary office. Other health issues to look out for are: 

Vision and hearing problems Bowel or urinary issues Skin problems Severe allergies Hip and mobility issues Find the Best Service Dog Prospect for You

Because a service dog is not a pet, you can’t search for a prospect the same way you would for a pet. The most fluffy and boisterous dog can be a loving pet for your family, but it may not have the ability to fulfill the training required for a service dog. According to the American Kennel Club, the dropout rate for dogs in service dog training is 50 to 70%. The best prospect is the one that can do the job for you safely; therefore, finding the right service dog prospect is vital. 

The ADA defines a Service Animal as a dog that is trained to perform tasks for the benefit of a person with a disability. A disability can be a physical disability, but also includes disabilities in the form of a mental illness that substantially limits one or more major life activities, such as depression, severe anxiety, or PTSD.

If you believe you would benefit from having a service dog, you may find the information below helpful. This is not limited to seeing-eye dogs as commonly believed!

What are the Service Dog Requirements?

Training a dog to become a service animal is available to individuals that have a disability. If you are interested in having a service dog, below are requirements to be aware of:

A person is eligible for a service dog if they have a physical, emotional or mental disability A service dog must be well mannered at all times A service dog must be trained to perform specific tasks that aid in a disability If it is not obvious what service the dog provides, the handler must be willing to answer two questions about their service dog. Optionally, it can help for service dogs to be clearly identified with accessories.  How does My Dog Become a Service Dog?

We have identified 5 simple steps to help you understand how your dog can become a service dog.

Identify and Understanding What Type of Dog You Have Find a Trainer You Trust or Train Your Dog Yourself! Train Your Service Dog Pass a Public Access Test Consider Service Dog Certification and Registration

Service dogs are an important part of the assistance animal family and serve an important function in our community. Dogs that fulfill trained tasks to assist individuals with disabilities that require their support are allowed access to public places when accompanying their handlers.

Step 1: Identifying and Understanding What Type of Dog You Have

Any dog breed can be suitable for service work. From Golden Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers, German Shepherds, Bully Breeds, Poodles, Huskies, etc. All types of dogs are eligible to become services dogs, each potentially adept at providing a different type of service. It is important to note that under ADA rules an establishment cannot discriminate against a service dog solely because it is a certain breed or size.

The breed of a dog may inform you about some characteristics of the dog and common breed-related instincts so you can watch out for them, but each potential service dog should be assessed for their unique behavioral patterns, strengths, and weaknesses to see if that particular service dog would be appropriate to assist you.

You should also be aware of your dog’s condition to ensure that the age and health of your dog are suitable for the job. It’s important to understand your dog’s condition to prevent adding strain to a service animal’s health and also to ensure the dog is up to the tasks it will be trained for. It is also important to test your dog’s personality type to see if he or she has a good temperament for service work. Dogs who are aggressive or easily scared may not work as service dogs until their public temperament improves. 

Step 2: Find a Trainer You Trust or Train Your Dog Yourself!

People often search for a reputable trainer that they trust to train their service dog. You can either adopt a trained service dog from a reputable trainer or bring your dog to a trainer. However, you are not required to work with a trainer and may train your service dog yourself. Many people are not aware that service animal tasks can be trained in the comfort of their own home!  In the United States, there are no required ADA certifications for service animal training. The community is self-regulated and certain organizations promote minimum standards for training. If you find that you would rather train your dog yourself, you are not only welcome to it, but it can also help increase the bond between you and your service dog. 

Step 3: Training Your Service Dog

Most of your time will be spent here. Putting in enough time to train your future service dog is a crucial step. While the United States has no minimum requirement, international standards suggest approximately 120 hours over six months. Some sources recommend that at least 30 of those hours be time spent in public to help train the dog for moments of distraction and when surprises come their way.  

The most important thing for you to teach your service dog is tasking, or learning the specific skill they will be performing to help assist with your disability. Some tasks may include sensing a medical alert, tactile stimulation during a panic attack, reminding the handler to take their medication, scouting a room for someone with PTSD, or grounding/blocking in public areas.

For additional training support and guides, we recommend Secrets to Dog Training. They provide a simple yet comprehensive guide to dog training so you can successfully train your own service dog*. 

* This is our affiliate disclaimer, in compliance with the Federal Trade Commission’s guide (FTC), and to avoid any misunderstanding to visitors of our website. We may earn a commission – at no extra cost to you – if you decide to buy any of the products, software, or services we refer to and promote on our website. The opinions expressed are of our own independent reviewers & writing staff, commissioned to provide helpful information & their unbiased opinion.

Step 4: Pass a Public Access Test

In addition to training your dog to perform tasks that assist with your disability, it is important for a service dog to be able to comport itself appropriately in public.  Various organizations set standards for when a service dog is ready to accompany their handler in public. Below is a quick list of a few important criteria for your service dog to pass:

No aggressive behavior towards people and other animals. Cease sniffing behaviors unless released to do so. No solicitations for food or affection while on duty. No over-excitement and hyperactivity in public. Able to tolerate novel sights and sounds in various public settings. No unruly behavior or excessive barking. No relieving themselves in public without being given a specific command.

Once your dog is properly trained, your next step is to decide how you prefer to identify your service dog.

Step 5: Service Dog Certification and Registration

In the United States, service dog certifications and service dog identifications are not a requirement. Staff at a public establishment cannot require documentation, such as proof that the animal has been certified, trained, or licensed as a service dog, as a condition for entry.

Certifications, IDs, and registrations do not convey any rights under the ADA and government organizations do not recognize them as proof that the dog is a service animal. Unfortunately, staff at many public establishments will still insist on IDs or other tangible proof of service dog status.  For convenience, privacy, and to set proper boundaries with strangers, some service dog owners find it helpful to own documents and accessories that can help signal that their dog is a trained service dog. This will help prevent situations where you are met with hostility or confusion when traveling with your service dog. Electing to carry a custom Service Dog ID card and Service Dog Vest may be helpful tools for you and your service dog to navigate public spaces. You may also choose not to carry the ID card and stand your ground on principle when you encounter people ignorant of service dog rights. Under ADA rules, staff at a venue may only ask two questions if it is not apparent what the service dog is trained to do: (1) is the dog a service animal required because of a disability? and (2) what work or task has the dog been trained to perform?

After you verbally confirm that your dog is a trained service dog, reasonable accommodations must legally be made for service dogs. Service dogs provide help for those facing a physical or mental disability so they are granted access into public places such as hotels, restaurants, and malls. It’s important to understand these rules so you know what rights you have as the owner of a service dog, and when third parties are violating your rights. To register your service dog for your own convenience, you may click on the link below.

Unable to train your dog as a service dog?

You may be interested in an Emotional Support Animal instead. ESAs do not require specific training, have access to no-pet apartments, are exempt from breed or weight restrictions. Click here to learn more about ESAs.

If you are looking for a Service Dog for a mental or emotional issue, you may be interested in a Psychiatric Service Dog.