The Dos And Don’ts Of Service Dog Training: What You Need To Know

When it comes to training a service dog, there are a lot of things you can do wrong. In this article, we’ll discuss the dos and don’ts of service dog training so that you can be sure not to make any mistakes when teaching your dog how to behave.

First Ten Steps When Training A Service Dog!
– Service dog training is a complex process that requires patience and dedication.
– UnifiedPaws offers a variety of helpful resources for training service dogs, including answers to common questions, training tips and tricks, and step-by-step guides.
– It’s important to follow proper service dog etiquette when interacting with a service dog and their handler to avoid distracting the dog or hindering their work.
– Asking for permission before petting a service dog and being respectful of the dog’s space are just a few examples of service dog etiquette.
– If you’re interested in learning more about service dog etiquette and how to behave around service dogs and their handlers, there are plenty of helpful resources available online.

Do – Train At Home

Train your service dog at home.

The most important thing is to make sure your dog is trained and familiar with commands in the environment he’ll be working in. If you’re training a bomb-sniffing service dog, for example, it’s best to train him on scents in your own home not at a stadium or other public location. 

This way, if an emergency arises when you’re out in public with your dog, he’ll react instinctively to sniff out any potential threats without overthinking things. 

And because this training happens at home, you’ll have more control over what kinds of distractions are around (and thus less likely to influence how well your service animal performs).

Service dog training can be complex and confusing. Thankfully, UnifiedPaws has written an article that answers the most common questions about service dog training, like what tasks service dogs can perform or how to get started with training.

Do – Start When They Are Young

Do start training when they are young.

The younger you start, the easier it will be to train your dog. The older your dog is when you start training, the more difficult it may be for them to learn and listen. If you have an older dog, don’t worry! There are still ways for you and your dog to work together as a team.

Start by teaching him basic obedience commands like “sit” and “stay” first before moving onto other tasks such as retrieving items from cabinets or drawers.

Do – Teach Them Commands Or Signals

Some dogs can learn commands, such as “sit,” “stay,” and “come,” while others may need to be taught signals instead. 

It is important that you know what type of training your dog needs so they can obey your commands and/or signals consistently.

Once they know what it means when you give them a command or signal, practice the command or signal often with them so they will get used to hearing it. 

If there are multiple members in your house (i.e., several people who want to train the dog), make sure everyone uses the same commands and/or signals so that the dog doesn’t become confused about how he should act in certain situations.

Do you need to train your service dog quickly and effectively? Check out this article from UnifiedPaws, where you can find expert tips and tricks on how to train your service dog in record time.

Do – Avoid Public Places

There are certain locations you should avoid when training your service dog.

Public places – You should avoid public places during the first few weeks of training, if at all possible. This includes restaurants, grocery stores, and other public areas where there may be a lot of people and distractions. 

It is difficult to train a service dog in such an environment because they will be distracted by the many smells and sights around them. 

There are plenty of ways to integrate your service dog into these environments once they have more experience under their belts; however, we recommend that you wait until this time before bringing your service dog along with you everywhere.

SituationChallengesPossible Solutions
Crowded areasOverstimulation, distraction, or stressUse techniques like desensitization and counter-conditioning to help the dog adjust to the noise and crowds. Use a visibility vest or harness by Julius-K9 or Easy Walk to signal to others that the dog is working.
Loud environmentsFear, anxiety, or disorientationUse noise-cancelling headphones or earplugs designed for dogs like Mutt Muffs to reduce noise levels. Consider limiting your dog’s exposure to such environments or bring them home when it gets too overwhelming for them.
Unfamiliar surroundingsConfusion, fear, anxiety or disorientationUse proper training to teach the dog to seek human assistance when lost. Consider using GPS collars or tracking like Whistle or AKC Reunite in case your dog gets lost.
Interactions with other dogsConflicts, aggression, or distractionsUse obedience training to establish good dog manners. Keep the dog on a tight leash and have a clear understanding of dog body language. Consider using head collars like Gentle Leader or Halti to better control your dog.

Do – Keep Them Active And Entertained

When you have a service dog, it is important that they stay busy and active. The more time they can spend being trained and doing work, the better. 

They will also be happier if they are kept busy by engaging in activities such as:

Playing fetch with a ball or other toy (you may need to train them on this first)

Playing with other dogs (if your service animal is friendly) or even people! This would be especially good for puppies who need socialization. 

Service dogs make excellent companions for children because of their outgoing personalities and playful nature! 

Service dogs are also often called “therapy dogs,” which means that when accompanied by their handlers, these animals go into hospitals or senior centers where patients can interact with them in order to relieve stress or anxiety symptoms caused by illness or old age.

If you want to have a successful experience training your service dog, there are certain things you need to keep in mind. For instance, UnifiedPaws recommends 10 essential tips for successfully training your service dog that you should know.

Do – Feed Them The Right Foods

When you’re getting a service dog, it’s important to start feeding them a balanced diet. This is especially true if they are going through training with you or your family. If they don’t get enough protein in their diet, then their growth can be stunted and their development will be hindered as well.

A good rule of thumb is making sure that there’s at least 18% protein in their food (but no more than 30%) and at least 5% fat (but no more than 10%). This ensures that they’re getting all the nutrients that they need during this period of intense training and development.

When setting up your own home kitchen for your service dog, whether you are cooking for yourself or cooking for both yourself and them, make sure there’s enough space available so that things aren’t cramped together too much when cooking meals for everyone (including yourself). 

While dogs are generally messy eaters compared to humans – especially puppies! – having ample space around where food prep takes place will help keep messes from becoming overwhelming later down the road after eating begins taking place regularly again after being interrupted by training periods such as these ones where only raw meats were being consumed daily by both parties involved (i’ll explain why later).

Don’t – Skip Socialization Training

Socialization is another important aspect of service dog training that you should not skip. Socialization helps your dog to be more comfortable around people and other animals, which will make him more confident in his work as a service animal. 

As well as being a plus for the dog, socialization can also benefit you as the owner. Your pet will be less likely to react negatively towards strangers or other dogs if he has been properly exposed to them during puppyhood and early adulthood.

Also keep in mind that certain environments may be too much for your pup’s sensitive nature, so it’s best not to expose him until he’s ready for it and only after he has been taught proper behavior for this environment (for example: knowing how far away from someone’s face is okay).

Don’t – Try To Train Yourself

If you’re reading this, chances are good that you’re considering getting a service dog. If so, you’re going to need their help with everyday tasks like opening doors and retrieving objects for you. 

When it comes to training these skills, though, it’s important that both of you learn them at the same time and not just from one another!

That’s why we recommend that everyone seeking a service dog take some sort of course before attempting any type of self-training or apprenticeship. 

While there are plenty of resources available online or in books (and even from friends or family), nothing beats professional guidance from someone who knows their stuff when it comes to dogs!

Raising a service dog from puppy to a well-trained adult can be daunting, but with the help of UnifiedPaws guide titled From Puppy to Pro, you’ll have a clear and comprehensive road map to follow.

Don’t – Train For Too Long Or Too Often

It’s tempting to think that more is better when it comes to training your dog, but if you’re trying to teach your service dog new behaviors, then this isn’t the case. 

Trying to train for more than 30 minutes per session can lead to burnout and frustration by both you and your pup. Additionally, training for more than 3 times a day can also be too much for a pup who doesn’t have any other activities in their day-to-day life. 

The same goes with length of time; 2 hours per day should be considered the max amount of time spent training before taking a break – whether it be an hour or two at home or out on a walk.

Training FactorPotential Problems
Training durationCan cause physical fatigue or stress in the dog
Training frequencyCan result in less effective training, and cause the dog to lose focus or interest
Work-to-rest ratioCan lead to overheating, dehydration, and other health problems, especially in strenuous activities

Don’t – Forget To Reward Good Behavior

Rewarding good behavior is an important part of training your service dog. It’s a fact that the more times you reward a behavior, the more likely it will happen again. 

When you have an attentive dog, it’s all too easy to take their attention for granted and forget about rewarding them for their excellent work. 

Make sure you always reward your dog when they do something right! If a treat isn’t enough, try giving them some belly rubs or ear scratches as well. Whatever form of positive reinforcement works for your dog is fine; just make sure that what you give them feels like an appropriate reward.

Be Consistent

It really helps if everyone in the family follows the same rules with regard to rewards so that each member understands why certain behaviors are rewarded and others aren’t worth mentioning at all (such as barking). 

This way there won’t be any confusion between what should be rewarded versus what shouldn’t be rewarded—and this will help ensure consistency across households too!

Did you know that cats can be trained in the same way as dogs? If you’re interested in learning how to make your feline friend more sociable, UnifiedPaws offers expert tips on training your cat to be more social that you don’t want to miss.

Don’t – Ignore Bad Behavior

You should never let your dog get away with bad behavior. Bad behavior needs to be corrected immediately, or else it will only continue. 

For example, if your service dog is yanking on the leash and pulling you down the street, then you need to stop and correct him or her immediately (by saying “no” in a stern voice) before they get too far away from you or cause an accident by running into someone else.

Don’t let your service dog behave badly when other people are around either—this is one of the biggest reasons for allowing them in public places such as restaurants: so that others can see what kind of behavior qualifies as acceptable for dogs like yours!

Don’t – Harness Your Dog’s Senses Poorly

If you’re going to train your service dog, don’t do it with a harness that is too big or too small. This can cause discomfort and even injury, both of which can be detrimental to the training process. 

Additionally, if you use an ill-fitting harness, your dog may be uncomfortable and distracted during training sessions.

Next: Don’t use a poorly-made harness. These products often have knots or other hardware that can come undone unexpectedly during use; in some cases this can lead to serious injury for both you and your pooch (or vice versa).

Finally: Don’t use any sort of equipment that isn’t specifically designed for dogs who are working as service animals. 

There are plenty of options out there that work well for people with disabilities but aren’t necessarily suited for canine companionship—and most importantly, it’ll just make things harder on everyone involved!

Sensory AspectDon’tDo
SightUse bright and vivid colors for training aidsUse muted colors for training aids that blend in with surroundings
SoundUse harsh sounds or loud noises for trainingUse soft or positive auditory cues like clickers
SmellUse strong or unpleasant smells for trainingUse mild, pleasant scents for training like lavender
TouchUse rough or uncomfortable training aidsUse comfortable, properly fitting training aids like those by Ruffwear or Hurtta


With all of this in mind, you should now be ready to start your dog’s training. With the right equipment and a good plan, you can train your service animal to help you in any situation. Just remember to always reward good behavior and ignore bad behavior. 

Keep your dog healthy by feeding them the right foods and providing plenty of exercise while avoiding public places where they could get distracted or excited by other animals or people. Finally, remember that every dog is different so don’t expect perfection from day one!

Further Reading

Here are some additional articles on service dog etiquette you may find helpful:

Service Dog Etiquette: This article from Paws of War offers helpful tips for interacting with service dogs and their handlers in different scenarios, such as on public transportation or in restaurants.

An Overview of Service Dog Etiquette: This guide from Labrador Training HQ covers more in-depth aspects of service dog etiquette, like how to approach a service dog and how to handle distractions.

Assistance Dog Etiquette: The Guide Dog Foundation offers a thorough guide on assistance dog etiquette, providing information on how to behave around different types of assistance dogs and their handlers.


What is service dog etiquette?

Service dog etiquette refers to the guidelines and expected behaviors that handlers and the general public should follow when interacting with service dogs.

What are some common rules of service dog etiquette?

Some common rules of service dog etiquette include not petting or interacting with the dog without the handler’s permission, not distracting the dog while it’s working, and being mindful of the dog’s space.

What should I do if I see a service dog out in public?

If you see a service dog out in public, it’s best to ignore it and not interact with the dog in any way. If you need to talk to the handler, direct your attention to them instead.

Can I bring my pet dog into a business that allows service dogs?

No, you cannot bring your pet dog into a business that allows service dogs, since that could be distracting to the working service dog. Only service dogs are allowed to be in public places where pets are not typically allowed.

Should I ask to pet a service dog?

No, you should never assume it’s okay to pet a service dog without asking permission from the handler first. Even if the dog looks friendly and approachable, it’s important to respect that the dog is working and should not be distracted.