The Best Service Dog Training in Nebraska

Service DogIf you’re living with a disability in Nebraska, 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.

While Nebraska’s civil rights law provides similar protections, it only covers service dogs that assist people with physical disabilities such as hearing/visual loss and mobility impairments. Nonetheless, public accommodations must abide by both federal and state laws.

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 Nebraska.

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 Nebraska

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

Dillon’s Dog Training

This professional outfit fancies itself as “Omaha’s most trusted dog trainer,” and its stellar customer reviews certainly align with that claim. The company is the brainchild of head trainer and CEO Russ Dillon, who’s been in the dog training game since 1997. Russ has worked for the military and police over the years, with great success. Later, he used his exhuastive expertise to transition into the domestic niche, including service dog training.

The company sources all its canine candidates from local shelters, giving vulnerable animals a second chance at life. Eligible disabilities include diabetes, epilepsy, mobility impairments, PTSD, and other psychiatric conditions. Russ tailor-makes each program towards specific individual requirements to obtain the best possible results.

Cost: Contact for a quote

Location: Omaha, Nebraska

Certificate: Unspecified

1:1 Support: Yes

Equipment Provided: Unspecified

Link: www.dillonsdogtraining.com

Lost Creek Training

Lost Creek Training is a well-established Minden-based business that offers a service dog program, among with a slew of other training regimes. The comprehensive program covers everything you need to obtain a fully-fledged service dog from scratch. Assistance picking a suitable puppy, in-depth training at the boarding facility, a one-on-one placement program, and ongoing support are included in the deal.

The length of the program varies, depending on the client and canine requirements, but typically lasts anywhere between one and two years. The schedule is flexible and customized, with an owner-trained component included, where appropriate. Head trainer Austin has worked with over 4,000 pooches in his time, using a progressive, positive reinforcement approach based on in-depth scientific research.

Cost: Contact for a quote

Location: Minden, Nebraska

Certificate: Unspecified

1:1 Support: Yes

Equipment Provided: Unspecified

Link: www.lostcreektraining.com

Domesti-PUPS

Based in Lincoln, Domesti-PUPS provides a host of dog training services, including a comprehensive service dog program. The community-based organization sources funding from generous donations to cover part of the cost, although the applicant will need to contribute. Most recipients launch fundraising programs, which the organization can assist with.

Domesti-PUPs primarily trains dogs to assist children with epilepsy, mobility issues, and diabetes—it may consider other disabilities, though. All animals are handpicked from reputable breeders, then trained over at least 250 hours by volunteer inmates at local prisons. A 10 to 12-day placement program at the Lincoln facility concludes the process.

Cost: Contact for more information

Location: Lincoln, Nebraska

Certificate: Unspecified

1:1 Support: Yes (however, training classes are in groups).

Equipment Provided: Collar, leash, and harness

Link: www.domesti-pups.org

Uplifting Paw

Uplifting Paw is a Nebraska non-profit that provides fully-trained service dogs for people with physical and psychiatric disabilities. The expert team sources suitable canines from breeders and shelters, beginning basic training when the puppy is as young as eight weeks old. The advanced service dog phase takes place at a volunteer caregiver’s home. With at least 200 hours of training undertaken in the first year, then an additional 400 hours after that, it’s one of the most comprehensive programs in Nebraska.

Liz Higley founded the organization in 2017 to help others after struggling to find an affordable service dog provider for her own psychiatric disability. Her organization places animals free of charge or at a greatly reduced cost. However, like all non-profits, you can expect a long waiting list when going down this route.

Cost: Free or subsidized

Location: Lincoln, Nebraska

Certificate: Unspecified

1:1 Support: Yes

Equipment Provided: Unspecified

Link: www.upliftingpaws.org