The Best Service Dog Training in Indiana

service dogIf you’re living with a disability in Indiana, it might be worth training your pooch (or a new puppy) to become a service dog. Not only do these lovable creatures provide invaluable assistance with everyday tasks, but they also receive legal protections under federal and state laws.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) affords anyone with an eligible disability the civil right to bring a service dog into any “public accommodations” (restaurants, entertainment venues, retail stores, educational institutions, etc.). Businesses, including landlords and airlines, cannot charge for a service dog or treat the owner differently, providing the animal is housebroken and well-behaved.

Indiana law also offers similar protections for service dogs trained to assist with hearing/sight impairments, epilepsy, mobility issues, and psychiatric conditions.

Although there are no formal certification or registration requirements, a canine must be adequately trained to qualify as a service dog. In this article, we’ll cover what to consider when searching for a service dog trainer and then review the top five providers in Indiana.

What to Look For When Choosing Service Dog Training

Choosing an appropriate service dog training center is the first step towards turning a canine companion into a bonafide service animal.

Regardless of whether you choose an online or in-person trainer, it’s best to stick with an established operator with years (or decades) of industry experience. Look for a provider with a proven track record with your specific disability.

Not all trainers work with every dog. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing—it could mean they excel at training a specific breed. Some insist on working with a custom-bred puppy, while others accept existing pets (after a rigorous evaluation) or source animals from a local shelter. In any case, check whether these conditions align with your needs.

For a brick-and-mortar establishment, it’s worth assessing the facilities in person before committing. Are the kennels in good shape? Do the dogs have plenty of open space? A low-quality trainer will cut corners and deliver subpar results.

While a sizable waiting list is indicative of a successful business (or a popular non-profit), you should consider your own timeline as well. If you need an animal trained in a hurry, there’s no point joining a five year waiting list.

Finally, cost is a crucial consideration. While the law requires a service dog to be capable of supporting its owner, there’s no legal requirement to enlist a professional trainer. An online training course gives you the necessary tools to train your animal at home and saves you thousands compared to an in-person program.

Online vs. In-Person Service Dog Training

So what’s the best option for training a service dog: in-person or online? Both methods have their advantages, which we’ll discuss below.

While an in-person course requires you to attend scheduled classes, an online program lets you train your animal at your convenience—you don’t even need to leave the comfort of your own home. The most significant benefit, however, is cost. Online programs give you all the support and guidance you need at a fraction of the price of an in-person course.

Although rigid and expensive, in-person programs may achieve better results because an experienced professional provides expert, tailor-made training sessions. Furthermore, the in-person option puts less burden on the owner, which is essential when a severe disability renders self-training impractical. Both humans and canines also get ample opportunity to socialize and exercise—active and outgoing owners often find in-person training more fun.

Pros of Online Service Dog Training Pros of In-Person Service Dog Training
Cost-effective: online courses cost a fraction of the price of in-person programs Less owner burden: trainers do most of the work, essential for people with severe disabilities.
Convenience: train your dog at a time that’s suitable for you Expertise: in-person trainers draw on years of experience to achieve optimal results
Comfort: no need to leave the comfort of your own home Exercise and socialization: you and your dog will get out and about

The Best Service Dog Training in Indiana

Now you’re up to speed, it’s time to check out the top service dog training programs in Indiana—both in-person or online. We’ve searched long and hard to identify and review the top courses in the state to make the selection process easier for you.

US Service Animals Online Training

The top dog in virtual training, US Service Animals Online Training gives you everything you need to teach your canine to become a service dog from home. The six-module program consists of 12 easy-to-follow videos that outline cutting-edge animal behavior theories and how they apply to your four-legged friend. Unlike other online programs, you’ll get customized support from a professional service dog trainer throughout the course.

The comprehensive program teaches your pet to assist with various disabilities, including blindness, hearing loss, diabetes, mobility issues, and epilepsy. No breed or size restrictions apply, and you get a handy certificate at the end (there’s also an optional service vest, collar, collar tag, and leash).

Cost: $349

Location: Online only (6 video modules)

Certificate: Yes

1:1 Support: Yes

Equipment Provided: Clicker, plus optional service vest, collar, collar tag, and leash

Link: www.usserviceanimals.org

Beverly’s Pet Resort

Located in Fishers, on the outskirts of Indianapolis, Beverly’s Pet Resort offers various canine-related packages, including a comprehensive service dog program. All dogs must be a suitable age and breed and have passed the company’s Good Dog One-der Class before training can begin.

Expert canine-handler Donna Chandler takes charge of the service dog program, which is only suitable for people with PTSD, diabetes, and epilepsy. In-person training takes place at the six-acre facility and in public access sessions around Indianapolis. The company has been operating since 1995, and has developed a reputation for excellence in the region.

Cost: Contact for a quote

Location: Fishers, Indianapolis

Certificate: Unspecified

1:1 Support: Yes

Equipment Provided: Unspecified

Link: www.beverlyspetcampus.com

Lee’s Dog Training

This brilliant one-man brand is the brainchild of Lee Seibold, an academic superstar who provides bespoke dog training solutions in Indiana. While Lee’s most popular program is the behavioral-based doggy boot camp, he also offers a service dog option for people with hearing or mobility issues.

Lee only does one-on-one training, most of which occurs in public access locations throughout Huntington. Unlike most other trainers, he’s happy to work with your existing dog, provided it’s of an appropriate age and breed. Numerous national charities have approached Lee for help training service dogs for veterans, which is a testament to his talent.

Cost: Contact for a quote

Location: Huntington, Indiana

Certificate: Unspecified

1:1 Support: Yes

Equipment Provided: Unspecified

Link: www.leesdogtraining.com

North Indiana Service Dogs (NISD)

This small professional trainer specializes in delivering service dogs to people with autism, epilepsy, PTSD, and mobility issues—no other disabilities are eligible. NISD only accepts puppies sourced from reputable suppliers of a select breed: Golden retriever, Labrador Retriever, Goldendoodle, and Great Retrievers. What’s more, the team of six highly skilled trainers works exclusively with service dogs for optimal results—the quality here is top-notch.

The well-run outfit serves the entire state from its facility in Plymouth, where applicants must attend 3-4 days of intensive in-person training to complete the program. Training takes place over 10-24 months, depending on the specific needs of the client and the temperament of the dog.

Cost: $1,500 deposit plus $100-$800 per month

Location: Plymouth, Indiana

Certificate: Unspecified

1:1 Support: Yes

Equipment Provided: Unspecified

Link: www.northernindianaservicedogs.com

Medical Mutts

Medical Mutts is a professional service dog trainer that uses an ethical, science-based approach to assist people with various disabilities: diabetes, epilepsy, autism, and mobility impairments. The team selects suitable animals from shelters or specialist breeders (though BYO dog is possible, under strict conditions) and then puts them through a comprehensive training program requiring 120+ hours over the course of between 6 and 12 months.

Three distinct options are available: board and train (staff does almost all the work), private coaching (in-person or online with the owner doing extensive training at home), or group classes (cost-effective). All pups must pass a Good Canine Citizen and Public Access Test to graduate.

Cost: Initial assessment: $90 / Private coaching: $90 per hour / Certification and testing: $100

Location: Indianopolis, Indiana

Certificate: Yes

1:1 Support: Yes

Equipment Provided: Unspecified

Link: www.medicalmutts.org