The Best Service Dog Training in Arkansas

If you’re living with a disability in Arkansas, 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, Arkansas state law provides similar protections for service dogs that assist people with visual, hearing, or physical impairments. Service dogs for psychiatric disabilities aren’t covered under state law, but they would still be covered under the ADA.

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 Arkansas.

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 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 Arkansas

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


Arkansas  Service Dogs

Founded in 2016, this small Sherwood-based outfit trains service dogs to assist with a range of disabilities: autism, epilepsy, mobility impairments, diabetes, PTSD, and more. CEO and lead trainer Megan Dougherty runs the program, either assisting owners with training the animals at home or doing a comprehensive board and train service at her facility.

Megan insists on handpicking every dog she works with from approved breeders, meaning there’s no BYO pet option here. The program fee can vary significantly depending on individual requirements, although it’s good to know the company has a discount for low-income families.

Cost: $5,000 + training costs

Location: ​Sherwood, Arkansas

Certificate: Unspecified

1:1 Support: Yes

Equipment Provided: Yes


Pathways to Peace SDT

Pathways to Peace is a medium-sized Hot Springs business specializing in training service dogs for people with various disabilities. The company offers a flexible approach to training, with the owner allowed to provide an animal (if suitable) or select one from an approved breeder. All animals must first pass their Puppy/Adult Starter course before moving onto the service dog program.

The programs are also more flexible than most, with an onsite and offsite option available. A budget-friendly option is to do group classes, which involve one hour of in-person training at their facility each week. However, with this option, the owner must do the lion’s share of the training at home.

Cost: Onsite training $1,800 a month / Offsite training $1,200 a month / Monthly Classes $120 a month

Location: Hot Springs, Arkansas

Certificate: Unspecified

1:1 Support: Yes

Equipment Provided: Unspecified


Wright Way Assistance Animals

Wright Way is a local professional trainer that offers cheap service dog programs to low-income families throughout the state. Group training sessions on its website start from just $10 per hour, which is a bargain compared to what some other trainers are charging. But buyer beware: not all online feedback has been positive. Nonetheless, if you’re seeking in-person training at a low price, the company might be worth considering.

Owner Shelbie Wright has also offered free service dog training for veterans, presumably with funding from a third-party non-profit organization. Fully trained service dogs are also listed for sale, then placed into the new owner’s homes.

Cost: $1,800 for a fully trained service dog

Location: Searcy, Arkansas

Certificate: Unspecified

1:1 Support: Yes

Equipment Provided: Unspecified