How difficult would it be to make my dog a “service dog”?

by Spot on March 5, 2011

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Question by LetMeBe: How difficult would it be to make my dog a “service dog”?
Are there restrictions, how long does it take, how much does it cost? Anything, anyone?
Rottie, 12 yrs old. Either invest in a trainer or do it myself. Emotional support I guess. Hate to say it, but it has a lot to do w/ being able to fly her and keeping her at my side. She needs to see a doctor across the country or I’m afraid she’ll die soon.
Not trying to sound dramatic, but I know she’ll flip out if I flew her cargo – separation anxiety.
I am disabled, wouldn’t inquire about otherwise

Best answer:

Answer by ladystang
how easy is your dog to train?

have heard they charge $ 2000 to train you and dog.

have heard that you have to buy a service dog at $ 20000

Give your answer to this question below!

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Fadin Reigne 03.05.11 at 4:25 am

What kind of dog do you have? How old is your dog? Do you want to invest in a trainer or do the training yourself? What kind of service do you want your dog to perform? I need all of this, sorry.

2 BMTHESPIAN 03.05.11 at 4:42 am

Depends on your dog and what disability he/she needs to be trained to assist you with. As far as restrictions you must have a disability as defined under the ADA and your dog must perform some task that assists you and is related to your disability. Dogs must be trained to be guaranteed public access and this is guaranteed by federal law. Dogs in training most states you must ask permission to take them in somewhere, most places will allow a dog in training in but they are not required to in most states.

3 Kirsten 03.05.11 at 4:45 am

It typically takes 18-24 months of expert training. If you hire a private trainer, expect to pay several thousand dollars. The exact cost depends on what the dog is trained to do, but typically it is something between $ 15,000 and $ 50,000. It is less expensive to apply to a service dog program for one of their dogs.

Service dogs are individually trained to perform tasks that mitigate the disability of the owner. So if you are not disabled, you can’t legally have a service dog. In order to qualify as a service dog, the dog must be trained to perform tasks that mitigate your disability. If the dog is not trained to perform these tasks, then it cannot be a service dog. If the dog is not trained to behave appropriately in public and to ignore distraction, or if it does not have a temperament suitable for public access, then he cannot be a public access service dog.

edited to add:
Needing to transport her someplace is not a legitimate reason for wanting her to be either a service dog or an emotional support dog. There are two additional problems with this plan.

1. You’d have to have a medical doctor declare you severely mentally ill (something few would want to have a record of)
Doctor’s declaration required to fly with an ESA:
2. going through security and being shoved under a seat (which is what happens to real service dogs) is very stressful. Too much for most 12 year olds. Fitting my GSD who is trained how to fold up under the seat is difficult enough. I can’t imagine getting an untrained Rottie to fit in a space barely big enough for my feet.

Your better option would be to drive or find vet care closer to home. Please don’t do the rest of us a disservice by claiming your insecure, untrained dog as a service dog and making our highly trained and temperamentally sound dogs look bad in the eyes of the public.

4 Jeannette W 03.05.11 at 4:45 am

Check out for lots of great information on service dogs They have a forum there that I think you would find very helpful.

In order for your dog to qualify as a service dog, you must have a disability that substantially limits one or more major life activities AND the dog must be task-trained in tasks that specifically mitigate that disability. If you need the dog to work for you in public, and not just in the home, the dog must also be trained for public access.

How difficult it would be to make your dog a service dog really depends on the dog (most dogs just don’t have the temperament for successful service work and public access) and on what your disability is and what tasks you need the dog to perform for you.

Service dog training generally takes up to 2 years. The costs vary depending on whether you go through a program or a private trainer.

5 jenniferDOODE 03.05.11 at 5:06 am

Certain breeds of dogs are perfect for the job, such as Labs. It might take longer for, say, a Chihuahua to learn. Well, maybe. I’ve read that they must start pretty young(like, a two or three months) and it takes a year or two. I’m not so sure about the cost, though. Sorry.

6 LadyJaneGrey 03.05.11 at 5:26 am

I find it curious that your dog needs to see a vet across the country and you are just now deciding to make her an emotional support animal. The dog is not realistically a candidate for service dog training. (There is a difference between emotional support animals and service dogs.)

If you are truly disabled by mental illness and need the dog as an emotional support animal to fly with you on the plane, be prepared to provide documentation from a mental health specialist (ie: psychiatrist) detailing your need for the dog to ride with you in the cabin. An airplane ride may not even be the best thing for the dog in ANY capacity at this point. It is incredibly stressful to travel with an animal on a plane, and the dog is a senior and already has separation anxiety, I don’t think it’s wise.

Personally, I am skeptical of the situation. The dog is, after all, 12 years old.

7 angela 03.09.11 at 9:15 am

I tried to post this on another blog here but it was old and no one answered me. Maybe someone here can help me. It is sort of along the lines of the blog. I do have mental issues but my dog is for mobility mostly. I did train him myself. I got him at the shelter about 5 months ago and he picks stuff up very quickly. He already stands so I can lean on him if I am dizzy or fall down. I am teaching him to pick stuff up for me, I have him almost all the way trained to help me on stairs. So yes you can train your own dog and they are still legal when they are trained to help you.
Anyway my problem is this. I have never had a problem taking him out, in fact most store clerks at several stores know him by name and other people always comment on how polite, well trained and pretty he is. (he is a 5 1/2 year old cattle dog/ shepard mix.
I do have problems with my own family though. They know my issues, they know he helps me, my mom saw him do his job just the other day when I leaned down and held on to him because I was dizzy. It helps to put my head down a little bit, he pretty tall so it is not a long way to his back.
I live in the backyard in a trailer and we share rides alot to save on gas, stores and resturants and stuff.
They say I don’t need a service dog and were upset when I got him. They don’t want him in the car, I understand with the new one. But he is not even allowed in the old one, they take thier dog and my little guys in it no problem. They get upset when I say I will meet them somewhere so he is in my car. They hate when i take him into resturants and no longer invite me, even though he is very well behaved, goes under the table and curls up.
They have even left me behind when they take my son places because I need to take him, especialy if we will be walking alot.
I am just wondering if anyone has any idea how I can get him accepted by my family

8 Diane 03.09.11 at 12:54 pm

A great reference book for training your own service dog is “Dogs Don’t Speak English – The Inmate Trainers Service Dog Training Manual” by Wendy Nelson Crann. You can order it on Amazon. It is really easy to understand and uses positive training methods which I am all for!

9 Anonymous 03.24.11 at 3:45 pm

Robin B
An ESA dog is not a service dog and not covered under the law. A dog that is 12 years old is to old to be a service dog. I find this whole thing fishy, perhaps you are just taking a trip and don’t what to leave your older dog in a dog carrier. Do not fake a service dog it is against the law with jail time and a fine.

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