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The World’s Best Service Dog Training Schools

Service dogs are a necessity for approximately 500,000 Americans, and yet there are only about 10,000 groups available to train them. Furthermore, most service dogs must be paid out-of-pocket, and it can cost between $20,000 and $30,000 to ensure they’re properly trained. Although there are some groups that provide service dogs, the waiting list is typically several years long. The benefits of having a dog who can assist individuals with disabilities usually far outweigh the costs involved, however.

What is Service Dog Training?

Per the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the definition of a service dog is “a dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for a person with a disability.” What this means is that anyone who has a mental or physical impairment that significantly limits at least one major life activity is qualified to have one of these canine companions. As long as you and your pup meet this definition, you’ll be covered by service dog laws. In fact, stores have a legal requirement to allow your dog to accompany you.

Service dog training is conducted by an individual or company that understands how to train a pup to take care of specific needs. For instance, if they’re training a dog for a diabetic, they must be able to teach the dog how to detect high blood sugar. It’s also important to train them to be a companion for life for children.

Defining Service Dog Training

In order to be considered a service dog, the animal must be able to help you mitigate your disability. Additionally, he or she needs to be able to behave appropriately in public. A guide dog will require basic obedience training. Once they master this, their trainer will move on to more advanced commands. He or she may need to know how to work with individuals in hospitals or how to provide tactile stimulation, for example.   

Importance of Service Dog Training   

Without proper training, a service dog is just a dog. They must be trained to help epileptic individuals, autistic children or adults, blind individuals, or people with other mental or physical disabilities. A dog may be born with the innate ability to notice allergens in food, for instance, but he or she won’t understand how to put it to use unless they’ve been properly trained. Dogs that don’t have this level of training may become emotional support animals, though.

Benefits of Service Dog Training Programs

Utilizing a service dog training program is, by far, the best way to get good results. Trainers know what to look for in a dog’s temperament and behavior, along with understanding which breeds will work best for your specific needs. It takes a truly talented trainer to turn a dog into a service animal, along with an average time investment of one to two years per pup.  

Service Dog Training Schools

There are many different service dog training schools you can choose from. The program you select should have experience training pups to respond to your specific needs. For example, if you have mobility issues, they must be able to train a dog to turn lights on and off for you.

Here are a few top service dog training schools to consider: 

Service Dog School of America

The Service Dog School of America can train a dog for you, or they can sell you a pup that’s already been trained! They specialize in:

  • Psychiatric service dogs
  • Therapy dogs
  • Alert service dogs (will alert to emotional or physiological changes)
  •  Autism service dogs

Service Dog Trainer School  

Better known as the School for Dog Trainers, this service dog course focuses on teaching the service dog trainers of tomorrow! Additionally, they place a major emphasis on teaching trainers how to work with individuals who have a spectrum disorder such as autism.

Cooperative Paws Service Dog Coach™

This educational resource offers a service dog training certificate course. They specialize in creating service animals for individuals with post traumatic stress disorder.

Service Dog Academy

People who turn to Service Dog Academy wish to save money by using online video classes. Due to their format, this company has trained more than 300 medical alert dogs located in a wide variety of countries.

Tarheel Canine

Tarheel Canine specializes in training work dogs, including those used by the police. Whether you’re training a pup to alert you to a life-threatening emergency or need a dog who can use their incredible sense of smell to complete specialized tasks, Tarheel can help!     

Bergin College of Canine Studies

Graduates of the Bergin College of Canine Studies learn everything necessary to properly train your service dog. Additionally, this school makes it possible for those with special needs to request a service dog.

Highland Canine Training LLC

Highland Canine Training has three different divisions:

  • Service dogs
  • School for dog trainers
  • Police K9 dogs

 They can provide a dog for you or train your own dog.

Animal Behavior Institute

If you’re looking for an online school that can teach you how to train a dog, then the Animal Behavior Institute might be the perfect choice. Teaching people how to train therapy dogs is one of their focal points.

Training Programs Offered

As you’ve undoubtedly noticed, each of the above-listed places has its own specialty. Some may focus on training dogs to assist children with autism, while others teach seizure response dogs. Make sure you choose a professional service that can teach therapy animals whatever it is they need to know to assist you!

Basic Obedience Training

This is where every service dog program must begin. After all, if your dog isn’t capable of going through basic obedience training, then it won’t be able to provide effective service for disabled individuals. Positive reinforcement training is used such as letting a dog chew on a Bite Builder Pillow.

Advanced Obedience Training

Taking a dog beyond basic commands is absolutely imperative. In addition to having a calm demeanor, they must grasp advanced commands to go through the complicated process of becoming a specialized service animal.

Specialized Service Training for Individuals with Disabilities

Whether you have a psychiatric, physical, intellectual, sensory, or other mental disability, it’s necessary to choose a dog with a calm demeanor who is prepared to become your partner in life. A professional dog trainer can determine if your dog has the skills to help you with increases in blood pressure, mental well-being, or avoiding extreme allergies.

Autism Service Dog Training

Autistic children and adults often rely on service animals to provide them with an emotional anchor. Additionally, these therapy animals are able to provide deep-pressure therapy as needed. These pups change the lives of children and adults who need more support in their daily lives. Be sure to put a nice tactical dog collar with a handle on your dog to assist with tactile stimulation.

Psychiatric Service Dog training  

Psychiatric service dogs are trained to assist in the mental well-being of their owner. Their service responsibilities may include helping with multiple mental health disorders, and they must know what to do during a potential emergency or an active emergency. These life-saving companions must also have the proper conditioning to help individuals in hospitals or retirement homes.

Mobility Support Dog Training

Offering mobile support means training service dogs or other kinds of service animals to help with major life activities such as position changes, assist with transfers, etc. It also means they may end up working in public settings, including nursing homes or retirement homes.

Therapy Dog Training

Some people with disabilities require emotional support dogs that have been trained to deal with additional tasks. The exact level of training they receive will be determined on a personal basis.

Training Process

Training an animal to provide a life of service rather than living with a so-called average person requires a lot of patience, knowledge, and an understanding of the dog’s body language.

Overview of the Training Process

Successful service dog candidates need six traits

  • Be willing to please.
  • Remain alert, but not reactive.
  • Remain calm, especially in unfamiliar surroundings.
  • Remain reliable in performing repetitive tasks.
  •  Be able to socialize in a wide variety of environments and situations.
  • Be able to learn and retain information. 

Once these six traits have been met, they’ll move on to learning about providing comprehensive services through online or in person training.

Importance of Positive Reinforcement in Service Dog Training

There are many kinds of service animals, but dogs respond especially well to positive reinforcement. They want to give their person options, but they’ll only become their best if they’re rewarded for doing good, while their negative behaviors are ignored.

Conditioning and Respondent Conditioning Techniques

Classical conditioning involves responses that are innate in a service puppy. Meanwhile, respondent conditioning teaches a service puppy to have a reaction to an otherwise neutral stimulus.

Training Packages Offered by Service Dog Training Schools

There are many different packages offered by training schools. One example provides an eight week in-person course or 20 unique online courses. Evaluate the classes offered and select the best one for you and your dog.

Virtual Reality Training for Service Dogs  

Top Tier K9 changed the world of dog training forever when they launched the world’s first VR training program. This program enables people to enroll in a training course with a virtual dog before their dog is trained for real. Why do this? Because humans can need fake dogs for people in order to not mess up real training sessions.

Client Satisfaction Rating and Feedback

The best way to gauge whether individuals with service animals liked a training course is to check client ratings and feedback. Was their dog able to be properly trained to sniff out potential allergens? How about oncoming seizures? By checking their ratings, you’ll find out.

Schools with ExcellentSatisfaction Ratings and Feedback

The National Education for Assistance Dog Services (NEADS), based in Princeton, Massachusetts, is a highly respected dog training school known for its consistently positive client feedback and high satisfaction ratings. 

NEADS specializes in training service dogs for individuals with various disabilities, including physical impairments, autism spectrum disorders, and mental health conditions. Their thorough and effective training techniques enable them to provide exceptionally skilled service dogs to their clients.

Additionally, Bergin University of Canine Studies, located in Penngrove, California, is also well-regarded for its comprehensive service dog training programs, which combine classroom learning with practical hands-on experience. 

Bergin University has a distinguished track record of delivering well-trained, dependable service dogs. They focus on fostering a strong bond between the service dog and their handler, ensuring the dog is perfectly synchronized with the handler’s needs and lifestyle.

Equip Your Service Dog with the Right Tools for the Job

An important piece of the process is providing your dog with the necessary tools to do their job. Tactipup offers quality tactical dog gear to ensure your pup won’t be able to break their collar! Our quality dog collars and harnesses are specially made for service and military dogs.  

Get them the very best from Tactipup today. After all, they deserve it!