The Best Service Dog Training in Louisiana

service dog outdoorIf you’re living with a disability in Louisiana, 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.

In addition, Louisiana’s service dog law provides similar protections for people with both physical and mental disabilities.

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 Louisiana.

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 Louisiana

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

DoggoneExpress

Doggone Express began by running rescue dog training programs in Louisiana prisons to improve the life of both animals and inmates. Then, this passionate animal welfare non-profit expanded to run a sought-after service dog program, which places highly-trained animals in the homes of people with disabilities, most commonly veterans.

The organization specializes in assisting people with PTSD, TBIs, depression, deafness, and autism, although applicants with other disabilities may be considered. Weekly group classes at the Jefferson Parish facility teach owners how to train their animals at home and the program includes various public access sessions. The organization obtains funding from donations and other non-profits such as The Big House and Companions for Life.

Cost: $150 adoption fee

Location: Jefferson Parish, Louisiana

Certificate: Yes

1:1 Support: No

Equipment Provided: Unspecified

Link: www.doggoneexpress.com

Hidden Haven Service Dog Training

This small Louisiana non-profit specializes in training service dogs for children and adults with mental and physical disabilities. The new owner must undertake most of the training themselves, which allows the organization to keep costs to a minimum. Community donations cover most of the fee, but the applicant must also make a financial contribution.

Hidden Haven prioritizes children and first responders, although others are welcome to apply. The organization sources suitable puppies from local shelters wherever possible and then commences training at their facility in Shreveport.

Cost: Contact for a quote

Location: Shreveport, Louisiana

Certificate: Unspecified

1:1 Support: Yes

Equipment Provided: Unspecified

Link: www.hiddenhavenservicedogs.org

Louisiana Warriors Unleashed

Veterans and first responders should check out this local non-profit, which works tirelessly to provide fully trained service dogs to eligible servicemen and women around the state. However, Louisiana Warriors Unleashed only trains animals to assist with emotional and psychiatric conditions such as anxiety, panic attacks, depression, and bipolar disorder. If you require help with a physical or neurological disability, you’ll need to look elsewhere.

Passionate volunteers do the training, and the organization sources funding from community donations, enabling it to place service dogs free of charge. The overarching aim is to serve veterans by helping them regain their independence and dignity. All dogs come from local shelters, without exception.

Cost: Free

Location: Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

Certificate: Unspecified

1:1 Support: Yes

Equipment Provided: Unspecified

Link: www.lawarriorsunleashed.org

Brothers and Sisters in Arms Dog Training

Brothers and Sisters in Arms is another non-profit that strives to provide well-trained service dogs to accompany needy veterans and first responders. Fee-paying civilian applications are assessed on a case-by-case basis. The organization has a presence in four states, although its main office is located right here in Louisiana (Leesville).

Service dogs are provided free of charge to active military personnel, first responders, and veterans with disabilities. People with psychiatric and physical conditions are both eligible, including PTSD, military sexual trauma (MST), and traumatic brian injury (TBI), among others. All dogs are sourced from local shelters and trained in-house before placement in the new owner’s home.

Cost: Free for servicemen and women

Location: Leesville, Louisiana

Certificate: Unspecified

1:1 Support: Yes

Equipment Provided: Unspecified

Link: www.brotherandsisterptsddogs.org