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TrainingPet Care

August 3, 2015

PetSafe® Expert

Roslyn McKenna

Service Dog FAQs

guide dog trainingWhich dogs count as service dogs?

The Americans with Disabilities Act defines a service animal as any dog who is trained to do work or perform tasks that benefit an individual with a disability. These dogs can perform tasks like calming a veteran with PTSD, retrieving keys, opening doors, or warning their owner before a seizure hits.

What training do they go through?

Canine Assistants starts training at 2 days old and typically lasts 18 months. It costs about $24,500 for training and lifetime care of a service dog.

When the dogs are ready, around 13 people are chosen to receive dogs from a pool of 1,600 waiting families based on personality tests to find the right matches.

service dog breedsWhich dogs can be service animals?

Any breed can be a service dog, but service dogs need to have certain characteristics. Retrievers and labs who love to fetch are good at bringing things to their owners, for example. All service dogs have to be easy to train and reliable.

Some breeds face other challenges for becoming service dogs. Pit bulls can make great service dogs because of their friendly nature, but many pit bull owners face housing restrictions or general negative perception.

How many people have service dogs?

There are over 20,000 service dogs in the U.S. Service dogs can help with everything from blindness, deafness, autism, mental illness, diabetes, PTSD, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, and finding missing people.

An estimated 70% of people who need service dogs can’t afford them. If you need service dog, you’ll often have to pay a fee for their training, and you’ll have the typical vet and care costs of any pet. Insurance won’t cover the cost of a service dog, so that price comes out of pocket.

Should I pet a service dog?

You can ask the dog’s handler, but they may say no. Service dogs are always on the job, since their owners might need them at any moment.

  • service dogsLet the dog concentrate for the safety of his owner.
  • Don't feed a service dog.
  • Give service dogs the right of way.
  • Don't pet him without asking.
  • Speak to the person, not the dog.
  • Don't ask about a handler's disability.
  • Don’t be surprised or offended if the handler doesn’t let you interact with their service dog.

Where can I get more info?

Written by

Roslyn McKenna

Roslyn McKenna

PetSafe® Web Content Specialist

PetSafe® Expert

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Salute to Service Dogs!