The Best Service Dog Training in Kentucky

blind woman with service dogIf you’re living with a disability in Kentucky, 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.

Furthermore, Kentucky’s public accommodation law obliges any relevant venues to grant access to service dogs assisting a person with a physical or psychiatric disability.

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 Kentucky.

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 Kentucky

Now you’re up to speed, it’s time to check out the top service dog training programs in Kentucky—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

Pawsability Unleashed

Pawsability Unleashed is a popular Kentucky non-profit that’s been training service dogs since 1993. The organization sources funding from the community to administer its service dog program, which provides animals to applicants without charge. Volunteer prisoners at the Roederer Correctional Complex do most of the training, earning valuable experience and skills for life on the outside.

Pawsability only works with rescue dogs, whether they be from shelters, strays, or puppy mills. However, the organization conducts stringent temperament testing before training can begin, and any history of biting equates to automatic disqualification. As a non-profit that places animals for free, you can expect a rigorous application process and a lengthy waiting period.

Cost: Free

Location: Frankfort, Kentucky

Certificate: Unspecified

1:1 Support: Yes

Equipment Provided: Unspecified

Link: www.pawsibilitiesunleashed.org

Artisan Dog Training

Artisan Dog Training is a for-profit business in Kentucky that’s been placing service dogs since 2008. The company strives to keep costs as low as possible by teaching the new owner how to do most of the training themselves. However, in some situations, the business will perform in-house boarding-style training at their facility.

All animals must first pass their proprietary training to ensure they’re sufficiently socialized and well-behaved enough to begin the service dog program. The program is fully customized for individual needs and open for anyone with PTSD, autism, diabetes, hearing impairments, and mobility issues (though applicants with other disabilities may be considered). If the dog doesn’t perform satisfactorily by the end of the program, the company will credit any money spent towards training a new animal.

Cost: Contact for a quote

Location: Nicholasville, Kentucky

Certificate: Unspecified

1:1 Support: Yes

Equipment Provided: Unspecified

Link: www.artisandogtraining.com

Eastern Kentucky Service Dog Academy (EKYSDA)

EKYSDA is a well-established non-profit that trains service dogs to assist people in need around the state and throughout America. The organization has two branches in Kentucky: Louisa and Ashland. From these locations, staff source funding from community donations and corporate sponsorships to operate their training program. Although charity covers most expenses, applicants are still required to pay a portion of the costs.

The eligible disabilities are limited to autism, deafness, physical impairments, PTSD, and diabetes. CEO Alex Cain Cartmel has been running the show since 2016 and is passionate about training animals to help people in need.

Cost: Contact for a quote

Location: Louisa and Ashland, Kentucky

Certificate: Unspecified

1:1 Support: Unspecified

Equipment Provided: Unspecified

Link: www.ekysda.com

Pawsitive Purpose K9

Pawsitive Purpose K9 is a local Kentucky business run by Tracey, a dog training guru with 13 years of experience in the field. Tracey began her career by training her very own service dog for her autistic son, and she’s since developed a passion for helping others.

The program typically lasts up to two years and requires the applicant to do much of the training at home, with expert advice provided by Tracey at regularly scheduled lessons. Every service dog training program is customized for the applicant’s unique needs and uses the positive reinforcement methodology. The business can also help customers select a suitable puppy for service dog training from local breeders or shelters.

Cost: Contact for a quote

Location: Lexington, Kentucky

Certificate: Unspecified

1:1 Support: Yes

Equipment Provided: Unspecified

Link: www.pawsitivepurposek9.com