Knowing how to train a service dog requires knowing the skills you want the dog to learn. The training requirements are not as strict as those for seeing-eye-dogs or other guide dogs. According to the American Disabilities Act, a service dog is any guide or signal dog or dog which provides assistance to a disabled person. Assistance Dogs International, INC, lists several guidelines to assist you when training a service dog.
Things You'll Need:
- Train your dog in basic obedience. Basic obedience includes sitting, staying and coming on command, as well as walking on a leash.
- Use treats as positive reinforcement during training. Praise your dog thoroughly when it completes a desired task, such as sitting on command. Remember to use positive reinforcement such as praise even when the dog has successfully learned a command and obeys without hesitation.
- Consult a certified dog trainer if you are having difficulties training your dog in basic obedience. Dog trainers will take much of the burden off your shoulders.
- Train your dog in at least three areas which will assist with the disability. For example, for wheelchair-bound persons, train the dog to walk on a leash beside the wheelchair, retrieve items and turn lights on and off.
- Consult a trainer for these tasks if you are having difficulties.
The dog must obey commands 90 percent of the time in both home and public venues to be considered a service dog. Service dogs should have exceptional temperaments, not be overly-protective and be in good health. There are several disabilities that are eased with the use of a service dog. For those with walking impairments or who have trouble balancing, a large dog can provide the support needed to walk down the street. Small or large dogs can be used for those with hearing impairments. Training a service dog requires patience and dedication, as many of the tasks needed may not be simple for the dog to pick up.