How Do I Get A Service Dog?
Recently, there has been an increase in the number of people calling the DNL office to ask about how they can get a service dog. In most instances, people with disabilities aren’t able to buy a trained service dog. With the initial cost of the animal, care and training, it can cost anywhere from $5,000 to $70,000 to buy a trained dog, depending on what it is trained to do.
Service dogs can do a lot more than just act as guide dogs. These days they are trained to assist with preventing children with autism from harming themselves; alerting owners with hearing impairments to the sound of the phone or doorbell ringing, or when the smoke alarm sounds; providing a way of balancing when going up or down stairs, blocking people with PTSD from others crowding to close to them, and much, much more.
It helps to understand the difference between types of assistance dogs. Emotional support dogs are not service dogs as no specific training is required. They provide emotional stability and acceptance to their owners by helping them manage their anxiety during times of stress. Therapy dogs visit nursing home residents and patients in hospitals to help cheer them up. Service dogs must be trained to perform a specific task for someone with a disability. The action the dogs takes must lessen the impact of the disability and the dog must have special training to do what it does.
Service dogs can be trained by their owners, but it certainly helps to have a professional trainer helping. The dog must have a quiet, confident disposition, receive training in basic and advanced obedience, as well as the training for whatever action is required to mitigate the owner’s disability. It’s a lot of effort that goes into the training of these animals, but then, in the end, you have a companion that will serve you for the rest of his or her life!
If you think a service dog might increase your independence, then consider training your own. Assistance is available, and although you’ll have to put considerable time and effort into the project, in the end, it might be the only way you’ll get a trained dog.