The amount of time necessary to train a dog to be a service dog can vary greatly depending on a number of different factors. It’s a rewarding process that greatly enhances the quality of life for people with specific needs.
In this article, we’ll explain how long it takes to train a service dog, and take an in-depth look at its training process.
Types of Service Dogs and Their Specific Roles
A service dog’s positive impact cannot be overstated. It acts as an additional pair of eyes for a blind person, helping them navigate their environment with greater independence. Service dogs also help hearing-impaired people hear crucial sounds and stay informed of their surroundings.
In addition to helping those who have visual impairments, service dogs are also taught to help those who have mobility impairments. These canines are specially trained to assist people with mobility impairments by retrieving dropped items, opening doors, and other similar activities.
Even people with anxiety disorders or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can benefit from the companionship and aid of a specially trained psychiatric service dog. To help their owners cope with their symptoms, these dogs provide companionship and grounding strategies.
The Process of Training a Service Dog
The process of training a service dog demands diligence, experience, and patience. That’s why we recommend getting help from a professional service dog trainer.
It normally starts with picking a candidate from a breed lauded for those qualities. This includes commands such as sit, stay, come, and heel.
For the dog to be confident and well-behaved in a variety of public settings, it must go through significant socializing as part of its training, which means that the dog must be socialized with people and other animals so it can be taught proper behavior in different settings.
No matter what type of training you opt for, it can easily take a year or two to train a service dog.
A Service Dog’s Relationship With Its Owner or Trainer
An exceptional relationship can be formed between a service dog and its human partner as trust, respect, and an unbreakable bond are the cornerstones of such a partnership. Moreover, a service dog and its handler create an instantaneous and unbreakable attachment that matures through time.
Having a service dog also has several advantages:
- The physical aid that service dogs provide is vital, allowing people with disabilities more freedom and mobility. They help persons with mobility impairments maintain their balance, find things that have been dropped, and perform routine chores like opening doors and switching on lights.
- Service dogs have a significant effect on the mental health of their owners. They’re always there for you, and that makes all the difference when you’re in a tense or anxious situation. In cases of anxiety or panic attacks, these canines are educated to recognize the signals of discomfort and respond with grounding techniques or physical contact. As a continual source of unconditional love and support, a service dog can also help alleviate feelings of loneliness and isolation.
- When it comes to making new friends and overcoming prejudice, service dogs are invaluable companions. The presence of one of these dogs can break the ice and lead to meaningful interactions between people who otherwise might not have met. As the focus moves from the person’s condition to the service dog, the person with a handicap can feel more at ease.
How to Choose the Right Service Dog Trainer
Consider these questions while deciding on a service dog trainer or organization:
- Methods of training: Find out how the person/company trains its employees. Selecting a group that bases its training on positive reinforcement is crucial for the dogs’ health and happiness.
- Organization’s available support services: If you’re looking for a service dog, be sure the person/organization you choose provides lifetime care, including access to veterinary care, and help with overcoming obstacles.
- Match process: Understand the organization’s process for matching service dogs with handlers. A thorough assessment of the individual’s needs and lifestyle should be conducted to ensure a successful partnership.
Conclusion: The Lifelong Impact of Service Dogs
If you feel that you or a loved one could benefit from a service dog’s presence, it’s crucial to make an informed decision about which service dog organization to work with, how much it will cost, and how long you’ll need to commit to caring for your dog.
The training process can be challenging, but if you pick the right trainer, it can feel like a walk in the park. Just remember that it’ll easily take 18-24 months (or 1-2 years) to fully train a service dog.