The Cost of a Service Dog
Quality doesn’t come cheap. Neither does a Service Dog. However, when considering how beneficial a well-trained Service Dog can be to the quality of life of its handler, then a Service Dog is priceless.
Nonetheless, according to the Freedom Service Dogs of America, the cost of a Service Dog is approximately $25,000. Let’s take a moment to break those numbers down.
What does a Service Dog entail?
The ADA defines a Service Animal as a dog that is trained to perform tasks for the benefit of a person with a disability. The disability can be a physical disability or any form of mental illness that limits one or more major life activities. Service Dogs must be specifically trained to assist in easing the symptoms caused by the disability. In return, Service Dogs can accompany their handlers almost anywhere.
Acquiring and training a Service Dog is costly. And, as with any four-legged friend, follow-up expenses are needed to make sure the Service Dog can perform at their best. Having a Service Dog does come with some dismay from other individuals who may not understand the handler’s needs. Thus, some handlers decide to also register their Service Dog in order to make the dog’s purpose more transparent.
Purchasing a Service Dog
Some handlers choose to buy an already trained Service Dog. Out of all the options, this is the costliest, but the most convenient and efficient choice.
Service Dogs for full purchase are bred to be Service Dogs. There are specific breeders who select dogs for their health, temperament, intelligence, etc. These dogs are chosen for qualities required in Service Dogs. Some dogs are also purchased from other non-service dog breeders if a dog shows exceptional traits that would be fit for Service Dogs. In short, fully trained Service Dogs for purchase are selected and trained to be service dogs from birth, thus a higher price tag.
- Professionally trained Service Dogs run from $25,000-50,000.
Hiring a Dog Trainer
The training a Service Dog receives is not the same kind of training that a regular dog receives at the pet store.
Depending on the dog and what services are going to be required, obedience training can take anywhere from four to six months of extensive work.
Afterward, the potential Service Dog will need to be able to perform all the tasks in different environments–from shopping malls to hospitals and sporting events. Training in various settings may take months or years, depending on the dog and service. Because training depends on many variables, dog trainers are typically paid by the hour, which can cost $150-$250.
- On the whole, training can cost from $20,000-$30,000.
Training the Dog Yourself
As always, the cost to train your own Service Dog is dependent on a number of variables, making the prices fluctuate:
- The dog’s age
- The dog’s temperament
- The dog and the handler’s ability to learn
- The amount of time, effort, and consistency spent
Some people are surprised to find that Service Dog training is very rigorous and regulated. However, this ensures that the dogs can accomplish their tasks safely and continue to be held in high esteem as a whole industry.
- Mandatory introductory seminars, an initial evaluation, a planning session, an application, a Working Dog Good Citizen Class, and a public access test costs start at about $1,000-$2,000.
Service Dogs are living, breathing, thinking animals. They require adequate veterinary care like all pets and need to be fed and groomed.
- Depending on the dog, veterinary care may cost an average of $1,000-$2,000 a year, along with grooming costs.
- Feeding costs for an average dog maybe $300 a year.
- Registering a service dog can cost $100-$200.
The Cost of Your Well-being
Obtaining a Service Dog is a big decision and a substantial investment. However, the long-lasting benefits on the handler’s well-being could by far excel the costs. A Service Dog may be the key to living a fuller life. And there is no price you can place on that.