The Best Service Dog Training in Oregon

Guide dog is resting in the parkIf you’re living with a disability in Oregon, it might be worth training your new pooch (or 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” (which includes restaurants, entertainment venues, retail stores, educational institutions, and more). Businesses, including housing and airlines, cannot charge for a service dog or treat the owner differently, providing the animal is housebroken and well-behaved.

Oregon’s disability discrimination law grants similar protections, although it doesn’t cover certain hospitals, private membership-based clubs, and correctional facilities.

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 Oregon.

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 type of 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 purpose-bred puppy, while others accept existing pets (after a rigorous evaluation) or source animals from a local shelter. In any case, check whether their 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 year-long 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 an in-person 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 and disadvantages, 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 can be essential when a severe disability renders self-training impractical. Both human and canine 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 Easy: trainers do most of the work, essential for people with severe disabilities.
Convenient: train your dog at a time that’s suitable for you Effective: in-person trainers draw on years of experience to achieve optimal results
Comfort: no need to leave the comfort of your own home Exercise: you and your dog will get out and about

 

The Best Service Dog Training in Oregon

Now that you’re up to speed, it’s time to check out the top service dog training programs in Oregon, 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 also 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 (along with 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

Charlo Training

Charlo Training is an enthusiastic Portland-based outfit that offers various canine education programs, including a comprehensive service dog training course. Its team of certified trainers uses a broad array of elite training techniques to transform an ordinary puppy into a fully-fledged service dog.

Do note, though, that the business currently only offers training for relatively minor mobility issues—tasks like blocking, fetching, picking up items, and applying pressure. You’ll need to look elsewhere for a “life-dependant” service dog or an animal to assist with any other disability. Prices and timeframes vary widely; the company will offer a free at-home consultation, though.

Cost: Contact for a quote

Location: Portland, Oregon

Certificate: Unspecified

1:1 Support: Yes

Equipment Provided: Yes

Link: www.charlotraining.com

Pawsitive Pets

The brains behind Pawsitive Pets is Cindy Ehlers, a highly qualified guru who’s been in the training game for three whole decades. She’s learned a lot about animal behavior modification theory during her long and illustrious career, and she incorporates her expertise into every single session. Cindy offers a service dog program and specializes in alert training for epilepsy, diabetes, and anxiety, as well as psychiatric conditions like bipolar disorder and PTSD.

Sessions occur at the client’s home, Cindy’s home, or any suitable public access location. Customers first undertake a paid assessment, then Cindy formulates a fully customized program to suit individual needs. Service dog training with Cindy typically takes between 9 and 18 months.

Cost: Initial consultation: $175, additional sessions (60-90 minutes): $75

Location: Eugene, Oregon

Certificate: No

1:1 Support: Yes

Equipment Provided: No

Link: www.pawsitivepet.org

The Joys of Living Assistance Dogs

JLAD is an innovative non-profit that tasks inmates at local correctional facilities with training custom-bred puppies to become capable service dogs. Once ready, the organization places these well-trained animals into the homes of needy people with disabilities. Eligible recipients needn’t pay for the service, although a long waiting list applies (preference is given to veterans).

JLAD helps the inmates train service dogs to assist with mobility issues and PTSD (no other disabilities are covered at this stage). For current dog owners, they also offer an Owner Trained program, which sees JLAD staff help people with disabilities train their pooch at home. This option is limited to one hour-long session per week at the Salem facility—owners are required to undertake the rest of the training in their own time.

Cost: Free

Location: Salem, Oregon

Certificate: Unspecified

1:1 Support: Yes

Equipment Provided: Unspecified

Link: www.joydogs.org

Comprehensive Pet Therapy

CPT is a reputable professional dog training company with offices in both Georgia and Oregon. The Oregon branch serves the greater Eugene area and offers a nationwide service dog training program for people with epilepsy, hearing/mobility impairments, autism, or psychiatric conditions. CPT will either train an existing pet (if suitable) or help the client handpick a puppy from a professional breeder.

Initial training occurs at the in-house boarding facility, where the animals receive an in-depth education based on behavioral modification therapy. Then, a comprehensive public access regime ensures each animal is ready to assist with everyday activities outside the home. CPT also offers a cheaper hands-on program, where the client performs much of the training themselves.

Cost: Contact for a quote

Location: Eugene, Oregon

Certificate: Yes

1:1 Support: Yes

Equipment Provided: Unspecified

Link: www.cpt-training.com