People often ask if we can train a dog they already own for service work. Yes, we can, but there are a few things to keep in mind when looking at having your family dog trained for service work or when you are looking to purchase a puppy or dog specifically for service dog training. Health, age, breed, temperament, and separation are all things that should be considered when choosing a dog. Also, when you purchase a dog as a candidate for service dog training you run the risk of the dog not testing out and having to re-home the dog or maintain him as a pet.
Health and age are important to consider, as you want your dog to live a long and happy life, and provide many years of service. A dog is never too old to train, but the older the dog the less time you will be able to keep them in service.
Breed is important to consider, as size can play a major role in accessibility. Some of the larger breeds (Great Danes, Mastiffs, etc.) can be difficult to maneuver in stores, malls, restaurants, etc. Larger breeds also tend to have more health problems and shorter life expectancies, which means a shorter working life.
Temperament is one of the most important things to consider because a service dog must be able to work and perform tasks at any time and in any type of environment. He must be able to handle being in a crowd, but at the same time be comfortable with a lone stranger coming up to say hello. He must be comfortable around walkers, wheelchairs, strollers, crutches, etc. He must be able to handle loud or strange sounds, such as a car horn, the sound of traffic, sirens, falling objects, objects flapping in the wind, yelling and screaming, etc. He must be comfortable entering and riding in an elevator, in addition to using an escalator or staircase.
Separation is important to consider because you may have to leave your dog with us for service dog training which can last up to a year. Would you or your family be able to part with your dog for that amount of time?
You may be wondering how to get started. The first step is to go through our application process; this will help us determine if we can help you. If we feel that you are a good candidate for a service dog and approve your application, we will evaluate your current dog at our training facility in Harmony, NC to determine whether it would be a good candidate for service dog training. When testing a dog, we look for trainability, a good solid temperament, and proper drive for service work. If we feel that your dog has the proper temperament and drive for service dog training, we will ask you to leave the dog with us for training. Remember, this could take up to a year. There is a negligible discount if we are able to use your current dog. If we feel that your dog is not a good candidate, but you would still like to obtain a service dog for your situation, we will select and train a dog for you.