How to Find Online Service Dog Training

Service dogs have been growing in popularity as a support for people with a wide range of conditions. It’s something that animal lovers have known for years, but the medical community is becoming more aware of: animals, particularly dogs, can be extremely beneficial companions.

If you’ve been thinking your dog is a good candidate to become a service dog, you may not know where to start or what kinds of service they can perform. In this guide, we’ll walk you through some of the most popular types of service dogs, how to train them, and how to get certified.

What is a Service Dog?

A service dog is a dog that performs an essential role for their owner. They are not just pets, but provide some sort of medical support. This means that these dogs are allowed to accompany people into spaces where dogs are not usually allowed.

Service Dogs for Visual or Hearing Impairments

The most familiar type of service dog is a guide dog or seeing-eye dog. These dogs have been trained since they were puppies to help people with visual impairments safely navigate the world outside their door. 

For people who are deaf or hard of hearing, there are also hearing assistance dogs. These dogs can help alert their owners about important sounds like alarms going off in their homes or public buildings.

Seizure and Diabetic Alert Dogs

There are dogs that may be trained to detect oncoming seizures in patients with epilepsy or help protect them during an epileptic episode and recovery. 

Similarly, there are diabetic alert dogs who can sense unsafe blood sugar levels and alert their owner that they need to eat something or take medication before it becomes a dangerous situation.

Allergy Alert Dogs

Thanks to their keen sense of smell, dogs can detect very small levels of substances such as gluten or peanuts. For people with Celiac disease or severe allergies, even trace amounts caused by contamination can be dangerous. These dogs can alert them to unsafe foods.

Psychiatric Service Dogs

Many people mistake this type of service dog with an emotional support animal, but there are a few key differences. While both types of animals provide support to people with mental health conditions, emotional support animals do not require the same level of training and certification.

Like any other service dog, a psychiatric service dog must go through training and certification. Trained service dogs are recognized by The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), but emotional support animals are not.

If you have a dog that is providing support for a mental health condition like anxiety, PTSD, depression, or other illnesses, it may be worth it to seek training and certification so that the dog is protected by the ADA. This will prevent you from being denied housing because of your dog and can also allow you to bring your dog to your school or workplace.

Training a Service Dog

Service dogs require training and certification to ensure that they can appropriately and consistently support the health needs of their owners. Without that training, they will not be legally acknowledged.

Some service dog training has to happen from a very young age. Guide dogs begin training while they are still puppies to ingrain the necessary behaviors and commands in them for life. Typically, such dogs are trained by professional organizations.

For psychiatric service dogs, however, it is possible to train older dogs that are out of the puppy stage, and an experienced dog owner can train their own psychiatric service dog.

How to Train a Psychiatric Service Dog

When it comes to psychiatric service dog training, you want to start with an online course that lays out all the important steps for training your dog. Following a training course set by a professional will give you a better result than trying to figure it out on your own.

At the end of the course, they will receive a certificate and be prepared to take the Public Access Test necessary for official certification. You can find a testing facility near you.

If your dog passes this test, they can be registered with NSAR, the National Service Animal Registry. This gives them legal protection and protects your right to have your dog with you at all times. Any service dog trained at home should seek out this qualification to ensure they can stay by your side and provide aid in any circumstance.

Train Your Psychiatric Service Dog

Finding a trained service dog that meets your needs and meshes with your personality can be challenging. Thankfully, for some service dog roles, you can do online training with an existing pet that is already attuned to your needs. This online training will prepare them to take the Public Access test so they can be protected by the ADA and assist you day-to-day, even in settings that aren’t dog-friendly.

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