10 Essential Tips For Successfully Training Your Service Dog

As a dog owner, you want to make sure that your pup is happy and healthy. One way to do this is by making sure they’re trained properly. 

As you can imagine, training a service dog isn’t the easiest thing in the world. Luckily for us both, I’ve put together 10 essential tips that will help you get started with training your pup!

First Ten Steps When Training A Service Dog! – YouTube
Key Takeaways
– Start training your service dog as early as possible to build a strong foundation.
– Identify what specific tasks your service dog needs to perform and tailor training accordingly.
– Use positive reinforcement techniques such as treats and verbal praise instead of punishment.
– Be patient and consistent with your training, and never give up on your dog.
– Practice training in a variety of environments and situations to help your dog become adaptable and calm.
– Socialization is key – expose your dog to new people, animals, and situations regularly.
– Always keep safety in mind when training your service dog and know your legal rights and requirements.
– Don’t neglect your own mental and emotional well-being during the training process.
– Consider working with a professional trainer or organization to ensure optimal results.
– Remember that the training process is an ongoing journey, not a destination – continue to challenge and support your service dog throughout its life.

Make Sure You Are Choosing A Breed That Fits Your Needs

Before you begin training, it’s important to consider what kind of dog is right for your needs. The most common breeds used in service dog training are Labrador retrievers, golden retrievers and German shepherds. 

Each breed has different characteristics that make them more or less suitable for the role of a service dog handler. For example, German shepherds are large dogs weighing between 80 and 100 pounds on average. 

While these dogs can be trained as assistance dogs, they may not be able to comfortably sit with their handler on an airplane or bus because of their size. 

On the other hand, small terriers such as dachshunds do not have this problem but do not tend to exhibit the same social skills as larger breeds like Labradors or goldens when working with humans in public settings – so this should also be considered when choosing a breed!

Once you’ve decided which type of dog will work best for your situation then look into specific breeds within that category before making any commitments

The journey of training a service dog is a challenging one, but with the right knowledge and guidance, it can be incredibly rewarding. Our Ultimate Guide to Training Your Service Dog is a comprehensive and valuable resource for anyone looking to embark on this journey.

Do Your Research Before Picking A Trainer

When looking for a trainer, do your research. A good trainer will have plenty of experience with the breed you have chosen. 

They should also be certified by a reputable organization and can show you their credentials. If you are still on the fence about whether or not to work with this trainer, ask for references from previous clients.

Trainer QualificationsCertificationsExperienceMethods Used
Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT)CPDT-KA, CPDT-KSA, CPDT-KH5+ yearsPositive reinforcement (clicker, treat training)
Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist (CAAB)CAAB10+ yearsPositive reinforcement, desensitization, counter-conditioning
Certified Dog Behavior Consultant (CDBC)CDBC3+ yearsPositive reinforcement, science-based training
Veterinary BehavioristDACVB10+ yearsPositive reinforcement, desensitization, medication management

Note: When choosing a trainer, it’s important to look for qualified professionals who use evidence-based and humane training methods. Some reputable certifications to look for include CPDT, CAAB, CDBC, and DACVB. Always do your research and ask plenty of questions before deciding to work with a trainer.

Don’t Start Too Early

This is a mistake that people make all too often—they think their dog has the potential to become a service animal, but they aren’t ready yet. 

If you’re thinking about getting a service dog, make sure you are ready for the responsibilities and commitment required of owning one. You need to know that you can take care of this animal and provide it with everything it needs before even considering taking on the task of training your dog as a service animal. 

When choosing which breed or mix is right for your family, consider how much time and attention each breed requires along with how much space they will need when grown up (you’ll want to make sure there’s room in your home). 

Some dogs require more daily exercise than others while some may not be able to live outside in cold weather climates due to their thick coats needing extra protection from wind chill or icy temperatures; these characteristics should also be considered before making any decisions about breed selection based solely off looks alone.

A well-trained service dog can provide invaluable support and assistance to individuals with disabilities. To ensure that your service dog is prepared to handle any situation, check out our guide on Training Your Service Dog to Respond to Commands in Any Situation.

Make Sure You Have Time And Patience

Training your service dog will take time. You and your dog will need to become accustomed to each other, and the training process can be frustrating at times. Be ready for setbacks and failures, but don’t give up! 

As long as you are dedicated in your efforts and remain patient with yourself and your dog, there is no reason why both of you can’t succeed.

Do Not Let Your Dog Off The Leash During Training.

You should always keep your dog on a leash during training. This is important because it allows you to control your dog and prevents them from doing things that may be harmful or dangerous. 

If you are trying to teach your dog behaviors like “sit” or “stay,” for example, and they are not on a leash, it’s much harder for you to stop them from walking away from you when they don’t comply with the command.

When dealing with an untrained service animal, it’s also important that their handler remain in control of their pet at all times. 

This makes it easier for both the owner and other people around them when working through basic instructions such as where to go next or when playing fetch; being able to make sure that everyone around is safe while teaching new skills without having any distractions (like other dogs) will help ensure success as well!

When it comes to training your service dog, avoiding mistakes can be just as important as learning the right techniques. Our guide on The Top 13 Mistakes to Avoid When Training Your Service Dog offers valuable insight into some common pitfalls to watch out for.

Stay Positive During Training

Training your service dog is a lot like training a puppy. Both are stubborn, both need to be taught what’s acceptable and what’s not, and both need lots of patience and positive reinforcement to get through the process. 

The biggest difference between training a dog for service work versus teaching any other kind of behavior is that you can’t force or trick them into learning something they aren’t ready for yet. As you start out with your little helper pup, it may seem like he or she isn’t getting anything right, but remember: don’t give up on them! 

When they finally do properly perform your desired trick/task after repeated attempts (and positive reinforcement!), you’ll feel so proud that it was all worth it in the end!

The most effective way of training your service dog is through positive reinforcement giving them something they want immediately after performing correctly but there are other ways too. 

For example you could use food as a reward or playtime in exchange for proper performance; just make sure whatever method(s) you choose won’t discourage or harm them in any way!

Training MethodPositive ReinforcementPunishment
Clicker trainingYesNo
Treat trainingYesNo
Electronic collar trainingNoYes
Choke collar trainingNoYes
Prong collar trainingNoYes

Note: Positive reinforcement techniques such as clicker training and treat training have been shown to be more effective, less stressful, and less risky than punishment-based methods such as electronic collar training, choke collar training, and prong collar training. It’s important to use evidence-based, humane training methods for the best results.

Get To Know The Americans With Disabilities Act

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a federal law that protects the rights of people with disabilities. The ADA requires businesses to provide access and services to people with disabilities in a way that is equivalent to those provided for others.

Is it required? No, but it does make things much easier. In order for you to bring your service dog into public places, you must have one of these three things:

A letter from a physician or doctor confirming that you need the dog as an emotional support animal;

A letter from an accredited organization confirming that you have a disability and need the dog as an emotional support animal; or

A card/certification from an emotional support animal organization confirming your membership and registration.

Watchdogs have a natural protective instinct that can be channeled and developed with the right training. Our guide on Maximizing Your Watchdog’s Potential: Tips and Tricks for Training provides helpful advice on how to bring out the best in your furry companion.

Put Yourself In Your Dog’s Paws

At this point, you might be wondering if your dog is ready to be trained. The best way to determine this is by putting yourself in your dog’s paws. 

Does the training you are doing make sense? Would it make sense if they were human? If they could talk and tell you what they needed or wanted out of their training, would that sound like fun?

Does the training feel fair to them? Is there too much pressure on their nose because of an environment that doesn’t work well for them or a task that isn’t right for them yet? Are there opportunities for success in all areas so they can feel confident and safe while working with you.

Is it fun for them?! Does it keep their mind engaged with interesting things going on around us all day long so that we’re not just stuck inside being bored together all day long (again…they’re dogs!). 

Do I have enough toys/games/treats/etc., so when I am trying hard at something but then give up…I don’t have nothing else left!

Exercise Your Dog Frequently

Exercise is a vital part of your service dog’s health. It has been shown that regular exercise can help with mental health, and it can also help you both stay healthy. Some dogs will be completely content to go for a walk or run around in the backyard, but others might need more than that to stay active. 

If your dog is one of these types, try finding ways for them to get their energy out through playtime or training sessions that focus on physical activity. You may also want to consider obedience lessons for you and your dog so that both of you are learning something new together!

Type of ExerciseFrequencyDuration
WalkingAt least once a day30 minutes to 1 hour per session
Running/Jogging2-3 times a week20-30 minutes per session
Swimming1-2 times a week10-20 minutes per session
Fetch1-2 times a week10-20 minutes per session

Note: These are general guidelines and may vary depending on breed, age, and individual health status. Always consult with a veterinarian before starting a new exercise routine, especially if your dog has underlying health conditions.Regenerate response

Learn How To Identify When Your Dog Needs A Break

Many people think that a dog can only be trained if they are hungry, thirsty, or sleepy. However, this is not the case! Your service dog should be well-rested so that they can fully focus on the task at hand. 

If your dog seems distracted and stressed out, take them outside for some exercise or give him a short break away from the lesson at hand. 

If you notice that your dog’s behavior has changed and they seem more anxious than usual (barking more often than usual), then it’s probably time to take a break from training with them until he calms down enough where he can concentrate on what needs to be done without being stressed out about it all day long!

Service dog training doesn’t just benefit the individual with a disability – it can also have numerous positive effects on the dog itself. Check out our guide on 15 Surprising Benefits of Service Dog Training for Both You and Your Dog to learn about some unexpected advantages of this type of training.


We hope that these tips will help you on your journey to become a good handler. The most important thing is to keep in mind that dogs are not robots and training them can be difficult work. 

If you feel overwhelmed by the process, there’s no shame in slowing down or taking a break! Remember: you are doing this for yourself and your service dog. 

ou are an important part of the equation too so take care of yourself as well as you take care of him/her

Further Reading

If you’re looking to learn more about training service dogs or improving your dog training skills in general, check out these helpful resources:

Tips on How to Train Your Own Service Dog from New Life K9s, offering valuable advice from experienced trainers on how to train a service dog.

Top 10 Dog Training Tips from Small Door Veterinary, featuring tips and tricks for training any pup from basic obedience to advanced tricks.

Service Dog Training 101 from the American Kennel Club, providing a comprehensive overview of service dog training and what it takes to turn a dog into a top-performing service animal.


What breeds make good service dogs?

Some of the most common service dog breeds include Golden Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers, German Shepherds, Bernese Mountain Dogs, and Standard Poodles. Ultimately, any dog with the right temperament and willing to learn can make a great service dog.

Can you train your own service dog?

Yes, many people successfully train their own service dogs. However, it’s important to keep in mind that service dog training is a rigorous process that requires extensive time, effort, and expertise. It’s usually recommended to work with a professional trainer or organization to ensure the best results and full compliance with local laws.

How long does it take to train a service dog?

The length of service dog training depends on a range of factors, including the dog’s breed, temperament, age, and the specific tasks they need to perform. Generally, it can take anywhere from several months to two years of intensive training to fully prepare a service dog.

What tasks can a service dog perform?

Service dogs can be trained to perform a wide range of tasks depending on their owner’s specific needs or disabilities. Some common tasks include retrieving dropped objects, opening/closing doors, providing emotional support, and alerting to seizures or changes in blood sugar levels.

Are service dogs allowed everywhere?

In most cases, service dogs are allowed to accompany their owner anywhere the general public is permitted. This includes shops, restaurants, and public transportation. However, it’s important to keep in mind that there may be certain areas, such as sterile hospital wards or food preparation areas, where service dogs may not be allowed for health and safety reasons.