Service Dog Training

Service Dog Training Service dogs are an extremely important part of the health system in the United States. The many different tasks that service dogs offer assist with a wide variety of mental health problems.

These problems range from PTSD to emotional support, and other disabilities such as blindness or autism. Now, you might have a few questions about service dogs such as:

  • “How do I train my dog to be a service dog?”
  • “How does service dog licensing work?”
  • “What makes a good service dog?”
  • “Which companies are the best for training service dogs?”

Those are all valid questions. We want to educate you on service dog training to have a more fulfilling experience. As a result, you should consider many different aspects when preparing to have a support canine. The breed of the canine is the first decision.

Service Dog Breeds: Which Canines Are Best?

Any canine can be a great service dog! But some breeds are a little better for support than others such as labrador retrievers and german shepherds. It also depends on what the owner needs from the animal.

For instance, a bigger dog might be required for wheelchair assistance, while a smaller canine is perfect for emotional support. The abilities of the canine impact the owner. If you aren’t sure of the breed of dog, you can check by using a DNA test. One of the best DNA tests is the Wisdom Panel Test, which you can find on Amazon right here!

Age and Health: How They Relate

The health of your dog is probably the single most important factor regarding its success as a service animal. Regular checkups to the vet are a priority, and an initial examination is helpful. A veterinarian checks for health issues such as arthritis and diabetes. Both of these disabilities make it extremely difficult for your dog to assume additional responsibilities.

You will want an experienced dog as well. Puppies are full of energy but still need a bunch of training. Your dog needs to get neutered as well. It will make a male dog less aggressive towards people and other dogs. Additionally, female dogs have trouble completing tasks that are not neutered.

We cannot stress the overall importance of maintaining and being aware of your canine’s health at all times.

What About My Dog’s Personality?

Does your dog’s personality fit the mold of a service canine? Which begs another question. What do service dogs act like?

There are aggressive and submissive canines. Both have positive and negative traits built into their personalities.

There is a website called Paw Primer that has an extensive guide to what makes a good service dog. You want a canine that is calm, but also constantly alert and aware of its surroundings. Training can help fill in missing gaps and provide your dog with the tools he or she needs to have success.

How to Find a Good Service Dog Trainer

Trainers promise a bunch of things, but do they deliver? Do your research on training. Many companies promise a service dog can get trained in less than two months. However, you should avoid falling trap to such promises as most service dog training takes far longer and also varies from dog to dog.

It’s probably not the best to try and train the dog by yourself. Although there isn’t an official certification that your dog needs to go through, we recommend that you find a reputable trainer near you.

Here are two service dog training organizations that are nationwide and offer quality training services. Keep in mind many local trainers can be great as well.

Compass Key

Compass Key provides quality service dog training across the nation. A majority of their offices exist in the Eastern part of the nation.

Total K9 Focus

Total K9 Focus also boasts several training options and plans. The company has nationwide offices and training centers. Their services are also highly recommended.

A Note About Training

We do want to stress that research is the most important part of service dog training. You need to spend time researching your dog and then researching the training that it needs. Service dogs complete very specific tasks that relate to the needs of their handlers. You waste money on a canine that cannot complete the necessary tasks even with demanding dog training. That’s why we recommend a complete and thorough investigation into what training you need for your animal.

Service Dog Training Regimen

There are no official regulations in the United States required by government or licensing agencies for having a service animal. However, there are expectations.

Internationally, the average standard is 120 hours of training for over six months. Again there are no official rules, but it is wise to follow this protocol. The three main areas of training are heeling, proofing, and tasking.


Heeling training is difficult to teach some breeds due to their adventurous nature. The idea of “heeling” is maintaining proximity to the owner or handler at all times. Heeling training is extremely important when you consider someone who is blind or deaf. They need a service dog to remain close at all times. Make sure your trainer includes this aspect of training in their regimen.


Proofing is another important training aspect. Proofing is training the dog to operate free of distractions. Again, depending on your dog’s energy and adventurous spirit, this can be quite the task. Therefore, it might begin to make sense why you need 120 hours of training for legitimate effects on the canine. Still, without this training, the dog won’t be ready for the next phase.


Tasking is part of the equation, and often the most difficult to accomplish. Tasking is the training that everyone cares about because it teaches canines to do very specific, unique skills. “Anything’s Pawsable” has a list of 100+ things that service dogs can be trained to do:

  • Retrieving Dropped Items
  • Retrieving Named Items (Phone, Keys, Leash)
  • Opening/Closing Doors
  • Holding Doors Open So Handler Can Pass-Through
  • Opening Doors to Allow EMS Entry to Home
  • Opening/Closing Cabinets
  • Opening/Closing Drawers
  • Opening/Closing Fridge
  • Tugging Clothing to Help With Removal (Outerwear, Socks)
  • Turning Lights On/Off
  • Deposit Garbage Into Can
  • Carry Mail From Mailbox to House
  • Drop Recycling Into Bin
  • Put Items Onto Countertop

To view the entire list of possibilities, visit their website. Speaking with a doctor or dog trainer will help you create the best plan for your needs.

Public Access Test

After all of the waiting, it’s time to get out in public! If you are unsure of what your dog needs to show as signs that it’s ready to meet the world, here are a few characteristics to look for:

  • Lack of aggressive behavior (biting, barking, growling, etc.)
  • Only urinating or defecating on command
  • Decease of sniffing behaviors
  • Not seeking food or affection
  • Less spontaneous excitement and hyperactivity

The dog should demonstrate some of these characteristics. If you don’t see a correct response to some of these behaviors, it is wise to talk to your trainer and figure out what still needs to get done.

Registration and Equipping

There is no specific licensing process for service animals that are given by the government. Rather, the registration is community-based.

Document things like the training process, registration with the United States Service Dog Registration, and the Public Access Test will help prepare you for presenting your credentials. Credentials are resourceful on airlines and other public spaces where animals are generally not allowed.

Secondly, equipping your dog is extremely important. Make sure the canine is wearing a bright-colored vest, and an appropriate leash or harness. It is also helpful to have tags and identification in case your animal gets lost.

Qualifying for Service Dog Options

Many companies give various grants for free service dogs. To find out if you qualify for a free service canine, check the company website of the training service you are using.

There are also third-party groups that provide free service dog training to veterans who get injured in battle. The same is true for people that have disabilities. Owning a service dog can also get you a tax break on federal income taxes.


Service dog training is a long process that requires your time, focus, research, and energy.

Research is vital to using a service dog correctly. Make sure that the breed of your dog is compatible and find an appropriate trainer. Secondly, search for grants and other opportunities to receive funding for a service animal or training.

Service dogs are truly man’s best friend and can help you get through difficult times. When you take the correct steps, you will discover some of the many ways canines can help make your life easier.