According to the ADA guidelines, you may train your own service dog.
Training your own Service Dog is not for everyone. It can be quite challenging, but well worth the effort. There are many advantages to training your own dog.
Advantages of training your own Service Dog
Your dog becomes bonded to you from the start
Your dog tunes into your specific needs
Your dog is socialized in your world with your activities
Your dog may begin their work a full year earlier
Your dog looks to you as their guide and teacher
You learn to correct problems before they become a habit
You choose the type/breed of dog you want
You can repeat the process with another dog
There is no waiting list
The cost is minimal compared to a program dog
You get to raise a puppy, or rescue a good dog
You can teach your dog new skills as your needs change
Disadvantages to training your own service dog
You have to spend hundreds of hours with your pup
Bad habits formed early are harder to break
Know your limits, ask for help when you need it
If you are unable or unwilling to spend the time training, you will end up with a pet instead of a trained Service Dog.
We understand that not everyone is able to raise a puppy. Your family situation, or disabilities may make it impossible.
Using a Service Dog is a big commitment. Raising a puppy is a big commitment. Training your own Service Dog is an even bigger commitment. It takes patience, determination, and a willingness to learn. It is very important to choose the right dog for your specific needs. We will be glad to help with an assessment. You need to consider your home environment, disability(s), medical condition, physical abilities, the dogs temperament, size, structure, abilities. and much more.
It is a process. If you have raised a puppy before, you know how challenging and rewarding this can be. Raising a dog for service work is not the same as raising a pet. It takes a special commitment of time and energy. The rewards however are beyond belief.
So why raise and train a Service Dog for yourself, or for a family member?
Bonding - Your puppy bonds to you immediately, and tends to picks up on many of your needs. A young puppy may instinctively alert to a medical condition or recognize an emotional need or physical emergency and respond to it. One of the most amazing examples of this was when an 8 week old puppy alerted mom that her 3 year old autistic son had choked, and was not breathing. Another pup was placed at 3 months old and within a couple of weeks was alerting his new handler to sounds she was unable to hear, and ignoring the ones she could.
Even if a family member will be doing the training, you want the puppy to bond directly to their partner. It is important to have them do as much of the handling, feeding, grooming, and training as possible. When possible and prudent, letting them sleep together, or in the same room may strengthen this bond as well.
Potty Training - You will need to housebreak, and train to potty on command, and while on leash. Carry supplies (poop bags & baby wipes), even a trained puppy is still a puppy, and accidents may happen.
Social Training - As early as possible you want to start introducing your dog to people, sights, sounds, smells, and environments that are common to your world.
Avoid dog parks! Young pups are susceptible to disease. Be extremely careful exposing them to other dogs, or where other dogs have been, until they are fully vaccinated.
Basic Obedience Training - In most cases it is best to also take your dog through a basic obedience class. A pair of expert eyes may pick up things that you may not be aware of. Check for local classes they are usually very affordable.
Service Specific Training - We will help you learn specific behaviors to assist with with your individual disability.
Education - By taking your puppy through this program, you learn how to teach your dog basic commands, as well as service specific behaviors. You also learn how to correct bad behaviors before they become habits. You will learn the ADA rules, regulations, rights and responsibilities as they pertain to Service Dogs, and rules specific to your state and Service dogs in training.
Cost - As with most specialty projects, given the right information, tools, and expert assistance, you can do the job yourself for a portion of the cost. The estimated cost for an agency to raise and train a Service Dog until they are 2 years old, is between $25,000 and $55,000 depending on the agency. Unfortunately most insurance does not cover a Service Dog and the cost can be prohibitive.
Our program, including the cost of a quality registered dog, and the on-line training program is about one tenth of that of a traditional service dog program. You don't have to pay someone else to feed, socialize, raise, and train your puppy for you.
Training a dog yourself allows you to work with an adult dog that you may already own, a rescue dog, or a puppy obtained specifically for that purpose.
Time - There is a minimal wait. After you go through the application process, pay the fees, and get approval from most standard service dog agencies, you then get added to their waiting list which takes anywhere from 2 to 5 years. Granted there are situations where this is the best and right decision for you. We can generally have the right puppy for you within a couple months or less, after approval.
Ownership - If you are training a dog you already own, it is your time and resources invested into your dog and it's training.
Confidence - Knowledge gives you confidence. Having learned how to train your dog, you have a better understanding of how to resolve behavioral problems that may come up later. Your understanding of the ADA rules and regulations helps you go about your daily life activities knowing that you have support.