The Best Service Dog Training in Utah

Dog rescuer in life vest on beach near riverThe Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Utah’s disability rights laws state that people with disabilities have a civil right to bring a service dog into any “public accommodations” even if the establishment normally prohibits animals.

Public accommodations include hotels, retail outlets, entertainment venues, transportation services, and educational institutions, although religious organizations and membership-based clubs are exempt. All public accommodations, including rental properties and airlines, cannot legally charge for or prohibit entry to their premises, or discriminate against an accompanying service animal. Dogs are the only species of service animal recognized under Utah law.

Therefore, if you’re living with an eligible disability in the state of Utah, it’s worth training your canine companion to become a fully-fledged service animal. Eligible disabilities include visual impairment, hearing loss, seizures, mobility issues, and balance or stability problems. Service animals that assist with psychiatric conditions receive the aforementioned protections, but emotional support animals are treated separately.

A service animal must be fully trained, although there is no formal certification or registration requirement. Public accommodations cannot demand to see documentation, but they may request verbal confirmation and enquire about the specific support the animal provides.

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 Utah

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

Utah K9 Training

Utah K9 Training is the brainchild of industry veteran Mike Seely, a former search and rescue trainer who’s branched out into the service dog scene. With over ten years of experience working closely with canines, he’s got a knack for nurturing trust and communication between animal and owner.

Mike’s service dog program is entirely customized for each client—it’s suitable for people with seizures, diabetes, or mobility impairments, as well as hearing or vision loss. An in-depth assessment determines whether your existing pet is up to the task. If so, Mike formulates a suitable training package comprised of both public access and at-home sessions. The course concludes with a Public Access and Good Canine Citizen Test to evaluate results.

Cost: Price varies on client requirements

Location: Salt Lake City

Certificate: GCC certificate provided after passing the test

1:1 Support: Yes

Equipment Provided: Unspecified

Link: www.utahk9training.com

Molli Dogs Training

This small but reputable training center in the Utah valley offers an in-depth, in-person service dog training program at affordable rates. Head trainer Molli runs the service dog section of the business, and has built a stellar reputation for her impressive results. With over ten years of training experience (much of that with service dogs), she’s got the skills to prepare canines to assist with most mental and physical disabilities.

The multifaceted program typically lasts 18-24 months, encompassing in-person training at home and public access locations, plus a video training option. After a minimum of 150 hours of training, Molli puts all her animals through a rigorous Service Dog Academy Test.

Cost: $50-125 per session

Location: Utah Valley, Utah

Certificate: Yes

1:1 Support: Yes

Equipment Provided: Unspecified

Link: www.mollidogs.com

Skye’s Dog Training

Owner and trainer Syke draws on a long list of animal training certifications plus real-world industry experience to provide her fully bespoke service animal program. While Skye will consider any age, size, and breed for the program, she only accepts dogs with the necessary temperament for the job. If yours doesn’t qualify (an in-depth evaluation is provided), she’ll help you pick out an appropriate breed.

The big benefit of training with Skye is the cost, as she’s among the cheapest reputable in-person dog trainers in Utah. Exclusively attending group classes will reduce the cost even further, although Skye recommends at least some private sessions for best results. All animals must reside with the owner throughout the 1-2 year program. A public access test takes place at the end to ensure every graduate is ready for their new role.

Cost: Average $1000 (group) – $1500 (one-on-one)

Location: Jordan Valley, Utah

Certificate: Public access certificate

1:1 Support: Optional

Equipment Provided: Unspecified

Link: www.skyesdogtraining.com

Stevens Dog Training

Run by passionate dog enthusiast Daniel Stevens, this small Eagle Mountain outfit has been training pups in Salt Lake County since 2014. Daniel sources appropriate animals from local shelters wherever possible before putting them through a comprehensive service dog training program. Positive reinforcement is the primary approach, and Daniel prepares service dogs to suit various disabilities.

The service dog program is entirely flexible and adapted to the client’s unique needs. While some animals may only need a short stint, others could undergo years of training before they’re ready for the job. Using an existing dog may be considered, depending on its temperament and the client’s disability.

Cost: Contact for a quote

Location: Eagle Mountain, Utah

Certificate: Unspecified

1:1 Support: Yes

Equipment Provided: Unspecified

Link: www.stevensdogtraining.net