The Top 13 Mistakes To Avoid When Training Your Service Dog

I’ve been training my service dog for about a year now. We still have a lot to learn and work on, but so far it’s been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. 

And while it might seem like there isn’t much difference between training your own dog or working with a trainer, there are some things you should consider before jumping into any kind of training program especially when it comes to getting help from other people who have already taken that journey. 

That’s why I’m going to share some advice on how to avoid common mistakes when training your very own four-legged best friend!

Service dogs and distractions: The top mistakes we see.
Key Takeaways
– Service dog training is a complex process that requires time, patience, and expertise.
– Learning from expert tips and tricks can make the training process more efficient and effective.
– Common mistakes in service dog training can be costly and detrimental to the dog’s success.
– There are important considerations to keep in mind when getting a service dog, including lifestyle changes and financial considerations.
– Service dogs can provide significant benefits to individuals with disabilities, including increased independence and improved quality of life.

Not Including Your Dog In Everyday Life

Many people make the mistake of not including their service dogs in everyday life. It is important to remember that your dog should be treated like a family member, and as such you should include him in everything you do. Making sure your dog is included in everyday life will help keep him mentally stimulated, healthy and happy!

A normal day for most people can vary greatly depending on their daily schedules; however there are some universal aspects that remain consistent throughout the day: getting dressed, eating breakfast/ lunch/ dinner (or something else), brushing your teeth and taking care of other hygiene-related tasks such as showering or bathing etc. How do you make sure your service dog is included during these tasks?

There are several ways to do this; one way would be if he was trained to assist with any task related to the bathroom (such as holding open doors). 

Another option would be having them assist with dressing by bringing clothes on command or carrying items around while someone gets dressed. 

These methods can also help increase independence within children who may have trouble dressing themselves due to physical disabilities such as cerebral palsy etc., allowing them more freedom within their own home without having someone constantly helping them out every step along the way!

Training a service dog takes time and patience, but with expert tips and tricks, the process can be done in record time. Learn more about the best techniques for time-efficient service dog training with our guide on how to train your service dog in record time.

Not Being Realistic About What You Can Train For

There is no use in setting goals that you can’t reasonably achieve. If your dog is unable to do something, then don’t waste time training for it. 

For example, if your service animal isn’t comfortable with stairs and has been known to run away from them in the past, then train them to stay near you when walking on a crowded street instead of teaching them how to climb stairs!

Another big mistake people make when training for public access is trying too many things at once. 

The best approach is the one that works best for each person and their situation. It might be helpful to think about what problems occur most frequently or what issues are most frustrating and tackle those first before moving on to other skills or tasks

Canine Companions for IndependenceA nonprofit that trains assistance dogs for a variety of disabilities and tasks
Assistance Dogs InternationalA coalition of schools and organizations that train service dogs
Delta SocietyA nonprofit organization that promotes the use of therapy dogs to improve human health and well-being
Therapy Dogs InternationalAn organization that offers certification programs for therapy dog handlers
National Institute of Standards and TechnologyThe federal agency that sets guidelines for accuracy and performance of medical devices

Not Asking For Help

Asking for help is not a sign of weakness. It’s proof of strength and independence. Dogs are great listeners, but sometimes you just need to talk to someone who understands what you’re going through, or who can offer advice about how to handle certain situations. 

You can ask your fellow service dog users for support and advice on training tips; you can ask friends and families for moral support when things get tough; and if you feel that your issues are too big for even them to handle, there are organizations like Service Dogs Inc who specialize in helping people learn how to train their dogs.

It’s also okay if your dog doesn’t quite understand something at first—just keep practicing until it clicks! Getting frustrated with them will only make the problem worse (and we all know how frustrating that can be).

Successfully training a service dog requires the right approach and techniques. Our guide covers the 10 essential tips for service dog training to ensure that your dog is prepared for the essential tasks they will perform.

Being Disorganized

When training your service dog, it is important to be organized. The more prepared you are for training sessions, the better they will go. You need to make sure that you have all the equipment and supplies needed for your session. 

This includes everything from treats and clickers to leashes and poop bags. In addition, it is important that you have a plan in place before starting each lesson so that everything runs smoothly from start to finish.

Finally, before beginning a session with your dog make sure they are properly prepared for what’s ahead of them by taking care of any business-related matters beforehand (like going potty) or making sure they’re ready mentally (like calming down).

Once this has been taken care of then it’s time to find an appropriate space where there aren’t too many distractions around them – making things easier on both parties involved!

Not Having A Good Way To Measure Progress And Set Goals

It’s important to set goals for yourself and your service dog. This can be as simple as deciding that you want to learn how to do laundry or as complex as learning how to drive. 

It’s also a good idea to set goals for the service dog so they know what they need to work towards. 

For example, if they are a therapy dog and one of their responsibilities is visiting nursing homes, maybe you want them to be able to walk up and down stairs without any help from you or another person. If this is something that needs work then it would be a great goal for both of you!

The Good Dog TrainingA dog training company that offers personalized training programs and progress tracking
Clicker TrainingA training method that uses a clicker to mark desirable behavior and reinforce learning
The Bark MagazineA magazine that offers tips and advice on dog behavior and training
FitBarkA wearable dog activity monitor that tracks activity levels and behavior
Certification ProgramsPrograms that test the dog’s behavior and training to measure readiness for service work

This table provides examples of resources and methods for tracking progress and setting goals in service dog training. These examples include personalized training programs with progress tracking, clicker training methods, publications with training advice and tips, wearable dog activity monitors, and certification programs that test the dog’s readiness for service work.

Not Checking For Medical Problems First

It’s important to take care of your dog before you begin training. Before you get started, make an appointment with your local veterinarian and have them check out your dog. This will ensure that they are healthy and ready for the challenges that come with being a service dog.

If cost is an issue, don’t worry! Many shelters offer free or low-cost checkups on their companion animals (and even offer vaccinations). If this sounds appealing to you, give them a call—you may just be able to save yourself some dough!

Training a service dog can be a daunting task for first-time owners. Our guide on the do’s and don’ts of service dog training will provide you with all the necessary information to ensure that you and your dog have a successful partnership.

Not Working On The Right Skills At The Right Time

As you progress through your training, it can become tempting to try and teach your dog too much. It’s easy to want them to know everything when they’re still so young, but it’s important that you remember that puppies will only be able to retain a small amount of information at this stage. 

If you try and teach them too many things at once, they’ll end up confused or overwhelmed and lose interest in actually learning anything! 

Instead of trying to get too fancy with tricks or commands right now, focus on just getting your pup comfortable around other people and dogs; then once they’ve got some solid socialization under their belt start introducing more advanced commands like “sit” or “down” into their routine.

Ignoring Early Warning Signs

The following are some of the most common symptoms that accompany serious illness in dogs. If your dog is showing any of these signs, you should contact your veterinarian as soon as possible:

  • Vomiting or diarrhea (sometimes bloody)
  • Lethargy; loss of appetite; difficulty breathing
  • Swollen abdomen that feels hard to the touch, especially on the left side where your dog’s liver is located

If you’re new to service dog training, you probably have many questions about the process. Our guide provides answers to common questions about service dog training to help you better understand the process and what it entails.

Using Food, Toys Or Praise Incorrectly

Food, toys and praise are good things! But they’re not rewards or punishments. Using them incorrectly can lead to confusion for your dog and might even make them sick.

Don’t use food as a reward during training sessions. Instead, reserve it for times when you’re out on walks or at home just hanging out together. 

This isn’t only about keeping your dog’s weight under control it’s also important because using food as a reward may cause him to stop listening when he hears the word “good,” since he’ll know that the moment after he hears it, his treat is coming!

Don’t give toys as prizes during training sessions either—save those for playtime after the business is done! If you use toys in this way too often, your pup will expect them all of time and get bored with them quickly. 

Toys have their place: They’re fun tools we can use whenever we want (and should!). However, they shouldn’t be used as rewards while we’re teaching our pups new tasks or behaviors because doing so could result in confusion over what behavior actually earns them praise from us humans who love them so much already without needing anything else added onto top of what makes us happy anyway just being around each other without any extra incentive needed whatsoever.

Expecting Too Much Too Soon Or Waiting Too Long To Start Training

You want your service dog to be a master of all things, but that’s not always realistic. Don’t expect too much too soon and don’t take on tasks that are too advanced for your dog until you and he have a solid foundation of basic skills and behaviors.

Be patient with yourself and your service dog—you can both set reasonable goals and start with small steps, so don’t get discouraged if it takes longer than expected to achieve an end result.

If your pet has a particular skill or aptitude, try to build on it rather than asking him to learn something new right away—this will help build his confidence as well as reinforce that he already knows how to do something important!

Potty TrainingTeaching a dog how to properly relieve itself outside or on a designated puppy pad
The Critical PeriodA developmental stage in a puppy’s life that is important for socialization and learning
Positive Reinforcement TrainingA training method that focuses on rewarding desired behaviors to encourage repetition
Canine Companions for IndependenceA nonprofit that provides trained assistance dogs to individuals with disabilities
AKC S.T.A.R. Puppy ProgramA program that provides puppy socialization and training to prepare them for obedience training

Doing Too Much Too Soon Or Not Giving Your Dog Enough Exercise And Mental Stimulation Outside Of Training Sessions

The most common mistake clients make when training their service dog is to try to do too much too soon. It’s normal to be eager and excited, but if you’re not careful, this enthusiasm can cause your service dog to become frustrated or even anxious. 

One way around this is by taking a break every day in order to give yourself time for reflection and rest. While this may sound like an easy thing to do, it’s often easier said than done because of the pressure we put on ourselves (and others) in our daily lives. 

The key here is balance: allow yourself the space needed for reflection while also keeping up with everything else going on in your life!

Another common mistake I see from people with well-meaning intentions who want their dogs trained as quickly as possible without realizing that it takes time for any animal (or human being) learn new skills is overworking them without providing adequate rest between sessions so that both body and mind stay healthy throughout the process.

From selecting the right puppy to training them for their life as a service dog, the process can be long and complex. Our step-by-step guide on training your service dog from puppy to pro provides detailed information on each step of the training process, from puppyhood to graduation.

Feeling Like You’re In Competition With Other Service Dogs And Their Handlers

It’s important to remember that you are not in competition with other service dogs and their handlers. Your dog is not a child, so don’t treat him like one. And your dog is not a pet, so don’t treat him like one!

Instead, focus on building your bond with your animal and fostering an environment of mutual respect between the two of you. 

Your job as his handler will be easier if both of you approach each training session with a healthy attitude towards one another and how best to work together as a team.

AKC Canine Good Citizen TestA certification program that measures a dog’s behavior and training
International Association of Assistance Dog PartnersA membership organization that advocates for the legal rights of service dog handlers
United States Dog Agility AssociationA community of agility enthusiasts who train their dogs to compete in various obstacle courses
WoofstockAn annual festival that brings together people and their dogs for games, contests, and other activities
The Good Dog FoundationA nonprofit organization that trains and certifies therapy dog teams to work with people in need


If your dog is not as fast or as well-trained as the other service dogs at work, don’t worry about it! Focus on what you can do to set yourself up for success (like getting help from a trainer or teaching assistant), and then just keep training. 

As long as you’re working with your dog on the right skills at the right time, there’s no reason why things won’t get better over time.

Further Reading

Here are some additional resources that may be helpful in learning more about training service dogs:

13 Common Mistakes to Avoid Training Your Dog: This guide covers common mistakes to avoid when training a dog, including important considerations for service dog training.

Common Mistakes of Service Dog Handlers: This article discusses the mistakes that service dog handlers frequently make, including tips for avoiding them.

Top 22 Things to Know Before Getting a Service Dog: This comprehensive guide covers important considerations for anyone thinking about getting a service dog, including necessary lifestyle changes and financial considerations.


What is a service dog?

A service dog is a dog that is specially trained to perform tasks to assist individuals with disabilities. These dogs are trained to perform a wide range of tasks, from providing physical support to alerting their handler to medical emergencies.

What types of disabilities can service dogs assist with?

Service dogs can assist individuals with a wide range of disabilities, including physical disabilities, psychiatric disabilities, and medical conditions such as diabetes or epilepsy.

What tasks can a service dog perform?

Service dogs can perform a wide variety of tasks, depending on the needs of their handler. Some common tasks include alerting their handler to sounds or medical emergencies, providing mobility assistance, and retrieving objects.

What breeds make good service dogs?

There are many different breeds that can be trained as service dogs, but some breeds are more commonly used than others. Breeds that are typically well-suited for service work include Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, and German Shepherds.

How can I train my dog to be a service dog?

Training a service dog is a complex process that typically requires the guidance of a professional trainer. However, there are some basic skills that all service dogs should learn, such as retrieving objects, responding to commands, and remaining calm in public places.