The Most Common Questions About Service Dog Training, Answered

It’s great to see that more and more people are getting their dogs professionally trained as service animals. 

It shows that people are starting to understand the benefits of having a well-behaved dog in public, but it also means that there’s more confusion about what a service dog is and how it works. 

In this article we’ll answer some of the most common questions about service dogs and training so you can be confident in your choice!

What is a Service Dog? | Answering ADA Questions Part 1
Main Takeaways
– Understand the dos and don’ts of service dog training before getting started.
– Timing is crucial when training your service dog.
– Expert tips and tricks can help you train your service dog effectively and efficiently.
– Learn the most effective methods for training your dog, including the important “stay” command.
– Further educate yourself on service dogs by exploring additional resources and FAQs.

How Do You Train A Service Dog?

Training a service dog is not easy. It requires commitment, time and money. You can’t just train any dog to be a service dog; it must be trained for a specific task. 

For example, if you want to train your pet to detect seizures in an individual with epilepsy, you’d have to find a certified trainer who specializes in seizure detection dogs (rather than just training your dog yourself).

This will cost you thousands of dollars, but the payoff could be worth it: The American Kennel Club says that owning a service animal can save Americans over $1 billion per year because they don’t need as many medical services as those without service animals do.

If you’re new to service dog training, it’s crucial to understand the dos and don’ts before getting started. Check out our guide on The Dos and Don’ts of Service Dog Training: What You Need to Know to avoid common mistakes and ensure successful training.

What Is Included In Service Dog Training?

Service dog training is a broad term that encompasses many areas of expertise. The basic obedience, public access skills and crisis response are considered the core elements of service dog training. 

Depending on the needs of your dog and you, specialized training may be added as well. This can include anything from tasks that are specific to your disability (i.e., opening doors or drawers) or tasks that prepare your dog for everyday life (i.e., leash manners). A few additional benefits of service dog training include:

Training ComponentDescription
Public Access SkillsBehavior training for your dog to behave appropriately in public places
Obedience TrainingBasic obedience commands for better communication with your dog
Task-Specific TrainingTraining your dog to perform specific tasks related to your disability
Distraction TrainingTeaching your dog to stay focused despite environmental distractions
Scent TrainingTraining your dog to recognize and alert to specific scents
Alert TrainingTeaching your dog to alert to specific changes, such as sound or scent

What Are The Basic Commands For A Service Dog?

There’s no denying that dogs love to make their owners happy by doing tricks. They get lots of praise, treats, and affection when they do so. But you don’t need to teach your dog any complicated tricks to be able to use them as your service animal:

Sit: Teach this command by saying “sit” while patting the ground or tapping an open palm. Once your dog is sitting on his own comfortably, reward him with a treat or affection. Then repeat the process until he sits without being told first. 

It may take several days before he does this consistently without prompting from you each time don’t give up! 

The key here is patience; don’t rush through training just because it takes some time for him to learn something new… Your pup will get there eventually!

What Is The Difference Between A Service Dog And An Emotional Support Animal (Esa)?

The difference is that an ESA doesn’t need to be trained, certified, or wear a vest. A service dog must be both trained and certified to assist with a disability.

Your pet might just provide emotional support for your mental health without having any special training. It could help you feel calmer or more relaxed, but it won’t alert you when something is wrong (unless it’s barking at the mailman). If your pet provides comfort in this way, then it could be considered an ESA.

Timing is everything when it comes to training your service dog. Learn when the best time to start is by checking out our guide on The Best Time to Start Training Your Service Dog: Expert Insights and get your furry friend on the path to becoming a skilled service dog.

How Long Does It Take To Train A Service Dog?

How long it takes to train a service dog varies depending on the dog. The more time you put into training your pup, the longer it will take to finish. 

A puppy should be trained to be a service dog in about six months; an adult dog can be trained in as quickly as two or three months. 

However, if your pup is already trained (maybe he’s just not quite ready for certification yet), then that process could take less than six months.

Service dogs are intended to assist people with disabilities with their everyday activities, so they need to learn how to do certain things like open doors and pick up items off of the floor without being told first by their owners. This type of training takes time and lots of patience!

Training PhaseDuration
Early SocializationBirth to 16 weeks
Basic Obedience12 – 16 weeks
Advanced Training6 – 12 months
Final Training and Placement2 – 3 weeks

Note: The duration of service dog training can vary depending on the individual dog’s temperament, ability to learn, and the training organization’s specific program. Some organizations, such as Canine Companions for Independence, offer a two-year training program for their service dogs.

How Much Does It Cost To Train A Service Dog?

The cost of service dog training varies widely, depending on the type and level of training required. For example, a guide dog might cost anywhere between $5,000 and $15,000 to train; an emotional support animal could range from $2,000 to $4,000.

Still other types of service dogs can cost much less because they require less in terms of training time and expertise by handlers.

Why Use A Professional Service Dog Trainer Vs. Diy Training?

With a professional service dog trainer, you’re guaranteed to receive the highest quality training. A trained service dog is worth its weight in gold, and it will likely save your life or someone else’s. 

A professionally trained dog is also less likely to be challenged by law enforcement or other authorities because it has been well-socialized and properly taught to obey commands in any situation. 

You can learn how to train a service dog at home with books and videos, but these methods don’t always work and they won’t help ensure that your new friend meets all of the legal requirements for working as a real service animal!

In addition to the experience they bring into their classroom sessions with students, professional trainers are familiar with what’s required under federal laws like ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) – which doesn’t allow just anyone who wants one access while out in public places where they might need protection from danger; only those who have proper documentation proving their need should be allowed access (this includes medical conditions). 

They also understand what happens when someone tries taking advantage of this law by pretending that their pet was actually trained as an official support animal despite having no proof whatsoever suggesting this might actually be true–the consequences could result in serious consequences including jail time if caught doing so!

Training your service dog can be a time-consuming process, but it doesn’t have to be. Get expert tips and tricks to train your service dog in record time with our comprehensive guide.

Are All Dogs Good Candidates For Service Dog Training?

It’s important to note that not every dog can make a good service dog. While there are many great dogs out there who could benefit from service dog training, there are also many who simply aren’t cut out for the job.

It’s stressful being a service dog. Service dogs need to be able to focus on their handlers and ignore distractions in order to do their jobs effectively. If your pup gets easily distracted by other humans, animals or things like sounds or smells, then becoming a service dog may not be right for him/her at this time.

Canines with high energy levels may not be suited for this kind of work either. If your dog tends towards hyperactive behavior (chewing up everything he sees, bouncing off the walls all day), it might not be possible for him/her to take part in such an active role as a companion animal helper (or “canine assistant).

With our guide on The Ultimate Guide to Dog Training: 13 Expert Advice and Tips, discover a wealth of information to help you train and develop your furry friend, including tips and advice from experts in the field.

Can My Own Pet Be Trained As A Service Dog?

No. Your pet is not a good candidate for service dog training.

Your pet may be a good candidate for emotional support animal (ESA) training, but this isn’t the same as service dog training. 

Service dogs are highly trained to perform specific tasks that help their owners live with disabilities and symptoms of mental health conditions. 

ESAs can be trained to do some of these things, but they aren’t required by law in the same way that service dogs are and even if they were, it would take years of intensive work on your part rather than just earning certification from a trainer who can legally certify your pet.

TemperamentCalm, obedient, trainable, and able to perform specific tasks
SizeLarge enough to perform specific tasks
AgeAt least 6 months old
HealthFree of communicable diseases and physical limitations
Temperament TestingEvaluation of dog’s disposition for training and work

Note: Not all pets are suitable candidates for service dog training, and some programs may have additional requirements. Many organizations, such as PawsWithACause, offer their own breeding program to ensure suitable candidates for service dog training.

Are There Any Other Ways To Get A Trained Service Dog?

The simplest way to look for service dog training is online. Search for “service dog trainer” or similar phrases on Google, and you’ll find a wide range of options. 

You can also ask friends and family if they know of any trainers in your area who are good at working with people who have disabilities.

If you are looking for an independent trainer, check out the websites of local organizations that train service dogs (like Canine Companions for Independence), or search online reviews from past clients. 

If you’re considering a facility that trains animals for multiple purposes (such as guide dogs for the blind), consider asking your vet or a local animal shelter if they recommend any particular places in town.

One of the key commands to teach your dog is “stay,” but it can be challenging. Find out the most effective methods to train your dog to stay by checking out our guide on The Most Effective Methods for Training Your Dog to Stay and help improve your dog’s obedience.

How Can I Find Reputable Service Dog Trainers Near Me?

It’s important to find a service dog trainer who is both qualified and trustworthy. “Look for a trainer who is certified through the International Association of Assistance Dog Partners (IAADP),” says Carroll, “and then make sure that they are willing to provide you with references from other clients.” 

There are also local and national organizations that can help you find reputable trainers in your area. For example, Service Dogs by Warren Retrievers has a list of recommended trainers on their website.

You should also ask for referrals from friends and family members who have used their services as well as do some research online yourself using search engines like Google or Yelp!


Hopefully, this guide has answered all of your questions about service dogs and the training process. 

If you have more questions, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us at Canine Companions for Independence. We would love to help!

Further Reading

Here are a few additional resources if you’re interested in learning more about service dogs:

How to Answer Service Dog Questions: This guide covers everything you need to know about fielding questions and inquiries about your service dog in public.

How to Answer Questions About Your Service Dog in Public: Learn practical tips for handling questions about your service dog from curious strangers with this helpful guide.

Frequently Asked Questions: A comprehensive list of frequently asked questions about service dogs, including information on their training and rights under federal law.


What tasks can a service dog perform?

Service dogs are trained to perform specific tasks that mitigate the handler’s disability, such as guiding individuals with visual impairments or alerting individuals with hearing impairments to important sounds.

What’s the difference between a service dog and an emotional support animal?

While both service dogs and emotional support animals provide assistance to individuals with disabilities, service dogs are trained to perform specific tasks that mitigate the handler’s disability, whereas emotional support animals provide comfort and support through their presence.

Can I pet a service dog?

No, it’s important to never distract or interfere with a service dog while they are performing their important tasks.

Can a service dog be any breed?

Yes, any breed or mix of breeds can be trained to be a service dog, as long as they are able to perform the necessary tasks and have the appropriate temperament for the job.

Does a service dog need to wear a vest or other identification?

There is no federal requirement for service dogs to wear a vest or other form of identification. However, many service dog handlers choose to outfit their dogs with vests or other identifying items to make it clear that they are not pets.