Service Dog Training Schools And How To Train A Service Dog

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Service Dog Training Schools - Our Complete List - White puppy lying on floor wearing a service dog jacket.
Service Dog Training Schools – Our Complete List

A service dog is an animal that has been trained to do specific tasks that will help an individual with a disability.

They include guide dogs for the blind, diabetes detection dogs, psychiatric support dogs, and many other variations.

A doctor may recommend the support of a service dog to certain individuals. However, you do not need any kind of approval from a doctor in order to procure the support of a service dog for yourself.

Getting yourself a service dog simply requires procuring an appropriate pup—which can be your existing pet—and getting them appropriately trained.

The regulations about training are quite loose, and you can train your dog yourself. However, it is generally recommended that you work with a professional.

A service dog may have significant responsibility for your health and safety, so thorough and effective training is necessary.

Your dog does not need to be certified, and we recommend identifying your dog with a service dog vest.

In this article, we will go through everything you need to know about procuring training for your dog to work as a service dog.

We have also provided a list of service dog training centers that you can work with by state.

Contents & Quick Navigation

Finding The Right Service Dog

Before you even think about starting to train a service dog, you need to find an appropriate animal to do the job.

While there are no legal restrictions on which breeds of dog can act as service dogs, some are more suitable to the task than others.

Service dogs need to be intelligent so they have the ability to understand the training and the tasks that are required of them.

But intelligent dogs with an overly independent spirit are not always suitable for this type of work. Nor are dogs that are easily distracted and might decide to run off at the first sign of a tasty smell.

The dog also needs to have a friendly demeanor. This is because they will be granted access to public spaces, where they will encounter many other humans and animals.

They will need to be able to behave appropriately in these situations, neither barking aggressively nor jumping up and wanting to play with every new friend.

The dogs also need to be fit and healthy for the task, and clean and well groomed. Again, if they will be granted access to public spaces, dogs that have a tendency to drool wherever they go will not be appropriate.

You can find more information on the best breeds of dogs to work as service animals and the characteristics of good service dogs here.

While it is common to seek out an appropriate young pup to train as a service dog, as it is best that they start the training young at around six months of age, any dog can be trained as a service dog, as long as they have the right temperament and characteristics.

Training Your Service Dog

There are no set training programs for service dogs, as the training of each dog is unique. The tasks that the dog will be required to complete depend on the specific disability, context, strengths, and weaknesses of the owner.

For example, each guide dog for the blind will have slightly different training depending on the level of sight that the individual has, their physical capacity and mobility levels, and the kind of environment they live in, for example, an urban versus a rural setting.

So, there is no set way to train a service dog. Rather, whoever is training the dog must understand the disability, lifestyle, and challenges of the person, and understand the functions the dog might be able to perform to help that person.

It is then a matter of training the dog to complete those tasks, and training the disabled individual how to work with the dog.

There are no regulations about who can train the dog, and no tests for either the dog or the trainer to pass.

For this reason, you can train your dog yourself, and many people choose to do so. There are a variety of online courses available that can take you through how to train your dog step-by-step.

There are hundreds of courses available, but the most popular include: 

However, unless you are a very experienced dog trainer, it is not recommended that you train your own service dog alone.

If the dog has a lapse in their attention or training, this can have serious consequences for their owner.

Imagine a blind person left stranded on an unfamiliar street. Or a person having a psychiatric episode stepping into traffic.

An experienced trainer not only knows how to train a dog to ensure they respond the right way all the time, but they are also in a position to assess whether the dog really is capable of taking on this job.

Luckily, there are service dog training centers across the country that can provide this exact service. A comprehensive list is provided below.

However, be aware that service dog training can be costly and time-consuming, depending on the complexity of the tasks they will be required to complete.

It may not take that long, and therefore cost that much, to train a diabetes detection dog.

They only need to be trained to complete one relatively straightforward task, which is well within the realm of their natural smelling capabilities, and to learn appropriate behavior for being in public.

This may take six months and cost a few thousand dollars with a professional trainer.

The tasks required by a guide dog, on the other hand, are varied and complex. You can expect a trained guide dog to cost between $40,000 and $60,000. The good news is most guide dogs schools offer their dogs to individuals in need at little or no charge.

You can read more about service dog costs here.

Similarly, while your existing pet may be able to be trained to work as a diabetes detection dog, when it comes to guide dogs, it is recommended to get a puppy that has been bred for this specific purpose and has the right characteristics.

For guide dogs, training also begins when they are a puppy so that they learn the habits and skills they need from the very beginning.

So, it really is impossible to say how a service dog needs to be trained, how much it will cost, or how long it will take, as it can vary significantly from case to case.

The best thing that you can do is contact a service dog training center and discuss your specific case with them.

Service Dog Training Centers By State

If you are looking for a center where you can take your dog to be trained by professionals for service dog work, here is a list of recognized centers by state.



No known service dog training centers



No known service dog training centers; look at neighboring states.





No known centers; look at neighboring states.

District of Columbia








No known service dog centers; look at neighboring states.



No known service dog centers; look at neighboring states.


No known service dog centers; look at neighboring states.











New Hampshire

New Jersey

New Mexico

New York

North Carolina

North Dakota





Rhode Island

No known training centers; look at neighboring states.

South Carolina

South Dakota

No known training centers; look at neighboring states.





No known service dog training centers; look at neighboring states.



West Virginia

No known service dog training centers; look at neighboring states.



No known service dog training centers; look at neighboring states.

Certifying Your Service Dog

There is no law stating that service dogs need to be certified or registered.

However, if it is not obvious to others what your service dog does for you, it can be a good idea to register them in case you need to prove to someone that they are a working service dog.

For example, a landlord might want to see this kind of evidence to let you keep your service dog with you in no-pets accommodation.

A blind person with the assistance of the guide dog is unlikely to be questioned about the status of their dog, as the service they provide is clear, and most people are familiar with guide dogs.

However, if you have, for example, a diabetes detection dog, you might benefit from some documentation because your disability is less obvious and fewer people are familiar with this kind of service dog function.

We’re not fans of the online registration services currently available. If you need to identify your dog as a service dog you might instead consider having them wear a vest identifying them as a service dog

Registering your service dog usually sometimes passing the American Kennel Club Canine Good Citizen Test, which tests key behaviors for dogs in public.


How Do I Get My Dog Trained As A Service Dog?

There are no regulations associated with how dogs can be trained to function as service dogs.

You can do it yourself, but this is not recommended unless you are a highly experienced dog trainer. There are service dog training facilities around the country that specialize in training dogs for this type of work.

How Much Is Training For A Service Dog?

The cost of training a service dog depends on the complexity of the tasks they will be required to complete.

For example, it will take much less time to train a diabetes detection dog than a guide dog. You can expect to pay between $40,000 and $60,000 for a fully trained guide dog.

Do Service Dogs Have To Pass A Test?

Service dogs do not need to be registered, so there are no mandatory tests.

How Long Is Training For A Service Dog?

How long it takes to train a service dog depends on the complexity of the tasks that they will be required to complete.

You should expect it to take a minimum of six months for all service dogs. For dogs required to complete complex tasks, such as guide dogs, it could take two years.

Does Insurance Pay For Service Dog Training?

Service dog training is usually not covered by health insurance. However, there are a number of charities out there that work to subsidize the training of service dogs for the disabled community.

The Verdict

If you believe that you would benefit from the support of a service dog, you don’t need a doctor to authorize this for you.

If you have a disability and a dog can be trained to complete specific tasks to help you with this, you are eligible.

There are also no strict rules around the type of training that service dogs need, and registration is always optional.

Considering how much certain individuals rely on service dogs, this does seem like an oversight. But this is because there is no one-size-fits-all rule when it comes to these animals.

Every disability is slightly different, and the challenges faced by the disabled individual are also unique.

So, each dog must be trained to complete different specific tasks to help. They will all need a certain level of obedience and public behavior, but beyond this it is all unique.

There are no regulations around training, and you can train your dog yourself.

But unless you are a highly experienced dog trainer, this is not recommended, as one lapse from a service dog can have life-and-death consequences.

If you are looking to train a service dog, above is a list of service dog training centers by state that can help you with the task.

Do you work with a service dog or have you ever trained a service dog?

Share your experiences with the community in the comments section below or via our social media.

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Service Dog Training Schools - Our Complete List - Golden Retriever puppy down on the floor wearing a service dog vest.
Service Dog Training Schools – Our Complete List

Top Picks For Our Dogs

    We Like: Snuggle Puppy w/ Heart Beat & Heat Pack – Perfect for new puppies. We get all of our Service Dog pups a Snuggle Puppy.
    We Like: KONG Extreme – Great toy for heavy chewers like our Labrador Retrievers.
    We Like: Wellness Soft Puppy Bites – One of our favorite treats for training our service dog puppies.
    We Like: The Farmer’s Dog – A couple months ago we started feeding Raven fresh dog food and she loves it! Get 50% off your first order of The Farmer’s Dog.

For a list of all the supplies we get for our new service dog puppies check out our New Puppy Checklist on the blog.

Service Dog Training Schools And How To Train A Service Dog was last modified: January 2nd, 2021 by LTHQ

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