Why hire a service dog trainer? With owner training becoming more popular as a cost-effective option for obtaining a service dog, this question comes up a lot. The U.S. does not require you to hire a service dog trainer to train in public spaces (some STATES do--so read up!), and there are tons of free resources out there. However, it is still in your best interest to hire a service dog trainer to help you on your way.
The specific kind of experience service dog trainers have is not part of a typical pet dog trainer's toolkit. So what kind of experience are we talking about?
1. Handling your service dog in public areas. How to open a door, how to talk to businesses about accessibility, how to talk to people who want to pet your dog, when to let people pet your dog, where your dog should be when shopping. Seriously, even how you open a door changes when you are with your service dog--it's not like walking through a door with a well trained pet dog!
2. How to talk to employers about bringing your service dog or service dog in training. I bet you didn’t know that access isn’t automatic!
3. How to pick tasks that will actually help. Service dog trainers have seen many tasks, and they know which get used and which collect cobwebs in the back of the dog's brain. They will know what will help you many times before you even think of the task.
4. How to travel with your service dog. What your rights are with your service dog in training in each state (yes, it really is different in each state), how to fly on a plane, how to access zoos or even Disney World with your service dog. Keeping their clients safe by making sense of laws and regulations is part of what service dog trainers do daily.
5. How to quiet your fears that your dog will wash, or how to lessen the pressure of your dog learning quickly. We get it: we’ve been there, and we want to help.
I could continue on and on, but I think you understand my point. You need a trainer that knows what to do for you and your service dog in training. Not a trainer that will give you their best guess. If your trainer has never walked in the shoes of a service dog handler, there are thousands of pieces they are missing. They may be able to help you improve your training skills and get some nice foundations going, but eventually you’ll need a more specialized trainer. Your best chance of your dog becoming a service dog is to work with an experienced service dog trainer. For your and your dogs sake, don't risk it!
In need of a service dog trainer to help you with training public access and tasks? Schedule a free consultation with an experienced trainer today!