How To Train A Service Dog

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:

  • Treats
  1. Train your dog in basic obedience. Basic obedience includes sitting, staying and coming on command, as well as walking on a leash. 
  2. 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. 
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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. 

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