The Best Service Dog Training in Oklahoma

Dog Training in OklahomaIf you’re living with a disability in Oklahoma, 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 right to bring a service dog into any “public accommodation” (restaurants, entertainment venues, retail stores, educational institutions, etc.). Businesses, landlords, and airlines cannot charge for a service dog or treat the owner differently than other customers or tenants, providing the animal is housebroken and well-behaved.

Some states have additional protections for service animals that go beyond that of the ADA. Unfortunately, Oklahoma is not one of them. In fact, state laws surrounding service animals are limited to those that serve handlers who have physical disabilities. Therefore, Oklahoma does not recognize psychiatric service dogs as service animals. Luckily, the ADA does recognize psychiatric service dogs, and because it is a federal law, businesses must abide by it regardless of what Oklahoma state laws say.

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 Oklahoma.

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 wait 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, 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 Oklahoma

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

Zen Dog Oklahoma

Zen Dog Oklahoma helps owners train their own dogs to become service animals. However, they do require the dog to undergo a temperament test to ensure it has what it takes to work as a service dog. If you don’t already own a dog, Zen Dog Oklahoma will help you select a pup for the job. Your dog will live with you for the duration of the training and will learn a minimum of three tasks. Training may take place in your home, in public (for public access training), and at Zen Dog Oklahoma’s facility, which is a 45-acre farm filled with plenty of distractions that your dog will learn to ignore.

Cost: $1500 minimum, price determined on a per-client basis

Location: In-person (Bristow, OK)

Certificate: Yes

1:1 Support: Yes

Equipment Provided: All equipment and training tools are provided

Faithful Friends

Faithful Friends is the most charitable dog training organization on our list. For every client that signs up and pays for training, free training is given to a foster or shelter dog. Not only that, but Faithful Friends claims that 100% of proceeds are donated to help even more dogs. When it comes to training service dogs, Faithful Friends can help, but they do not offer public access training. Instead, they help you train your dog to perform useful tasks within your home. Because of this, your dog would not be able to travel with you or accompany you in public. However, this type of training doesn’t take as much time or effort and could still be helpful for certain disabilities.

Cost: Price determined on a per-client basis, contact for details

Location: In-person (Norman, OK)

Certificate: No

1:1 Support: Yes

Equipment Provided: None

Paws 4 Purpose

Paws 4 Purpose uses “balanced” training techniques, meaning a combination of rewards and corrections. This company requires a consultation before any training begins in order to determine your needs as well as your dog’s skill level. Then, the trainer will come up with a plan for you and your dog. The nice thing about Paws 4 Purpose is that they don’t offer a set number of classes; instead, they work with you until your dog has learned all of the skills included in your training package.

Cost: Contact for details

Location: In-person (Del City, OK)

Certificate: No

1:1 Support: Yes

Equipment Provided: None

Southern Warrior K9

Southern Warrior K9 employs clicker training techniques mixed with corrections and thus cannot be considered a fully positive-reinforcement-based training program. The popular term for this type of training is “balanced.” Southern Warrior K9 will evaluate your dog and be honest about whether or not your pooch has what it takes to become a service animal. If so, trainers will work with you and your dog in your home, in the Southern Warrior K9’s’ facility, or public areas.

Cost: Contact for details

Location: In-person (Norman, Shawnee, and the Greater OKC Metro Area, OK)

Certificate: No

1:1 Support: Yes

Equipment Provided: None