how to make a dog a service dog

How to Make a Dog a Service Dog?

Service dogs are excellent pets that assist a person with disabilities. Before you begin the research, you should know that emotional support dogs, service dogs, and psychiatric service dogs are all very different from each other. 

Service dogs can be of any size and breed and help their owners properly. If you’re a dog owner and thinking of making them a service dog, it’s possible. Also, it’ll be easier if you adopt a dog that has already received the training. 

Below, we’ll walk you through the steps guide on making a dog a service dog. We’ll also discuss how to verify whether your dog qualifies to be a service dog. In addition, we’ll refer to the minimum requirements to own a service dog. 

Steps to Make a Dog a Service Dog

pwd and a dog
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Before training them for a service dog, you should decide what disabilities you want your dog to adapt to. It’s better to consider your dog’s temperament and other variables. Furthermore, you should also provide them with rigorous service dog training. There are things you need to ask before you become a service dog owner, such as:

1.) Purpose of a service dog

service therapy dog
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There are various service dogs, such as emotional support, work dogs, therapy dogs, and more. However, a service dog is trained to do tasks related to the owner’s disabilities. For instance, a service dog with autistic owners learns to comprehend its owner’s distinctive communication patterns. Hence, they’ll assist you in communicating your needs to the outside world. 

Service dogs who can read stoplight sighs also serve as support for autistic owners. You can also teach your service dog to encourage language development. Also, they can help you increase interest in various activities and decrease stress. In addition, a service dog can also assist their owner at school, work, etc. 

On the other hand, dogs trained for emotional support can provide substantial emotional comfort to their owner. They can also help ease anxiety, depression, and many phobias. You cannot consider a service dog as an emotional support dog. 

2.) Proper amount of training

service dog training
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Any dog can qualify to be a service dog, but you need to consider the adequate amount of training. You can contact training facilities or trainers to help determine whether or not your dog qualifies to become a service dog and whether it can be trained to meet your specific needs.

Check your dog’s temperament and characteristics before you test in the real world. You need to consider their health, and they must be healthy themselves.

Your service dog should be able to complete the task that your disability limits you in. So, if you’re physically unfit and need help with minor tasks, you can train them to execute functions like opening doors, carrying things, fetching items off around which you can’t perform. In this case, your small size dogs might not be able to help you with physically demanding activities. 

Before training, you can also perform a public access test on your dog. Ensure your dog is not aggressive, too excited, or easily distracted in public areas. To make your dog a service dog, you need to keep them strictly well-mannered. Your dogs also need to obey your order in all conditions. 

3.) Socializing

Photo by Brett Sayles from Pexels

The best way to ensure your dog grows up to be a kind and confident adult is to socialize them. You should start socializing with them as early as 20 weeks. It’s also important to let other people handle your puppies regularly. Similarly, they also need to get habituated to different sounds.

While you interact with puppies, you need to be calm and friendly. You should never be combative when handling puppies. Always keep an eye on them to prevent them from being violent. To avoid separation anxiety, you also need to train them to be alone. 

Another factor is potty training. It’s not only to avoid a mess indoors but also to teach them to go to the appropriate place. You can also provide them with a crate so that they’ll have a designated place to relive. Providing containers or letting them go out for potty will teach them that going out is good, which might not be an appropriate long-term solution.

4.) Think about service dog registration

registered service dog for person with disability
Photo by Provisionshots from Pexels

Have you ever noticed a dog with a vest or owner bearing an identification card containing a registration number? It’s not mandatory for service dog registration, but you can opt to get an ID to put on the dog’s body. It’ll help people who’re not knowledgeable about the service dog. 

Getting registration also helps those who have trouble explaining the purpose of their service dog. Having a registration ID will also save you from discussing why you’re bringing your dog to restricted places. Therefore, getting a service dog registration ID  can help you cut back on stress, conflicts, etc. 

Individuals who choose to keep their disability private won’t have their service dog wearing a vest or have a registration ID. On the contrary, others choose to issue a registration ID. So, it’s totally upon you whether you want an ID or not. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What qualifies a dog to be a service dog?

A dog’s primary qualification for being a service dog is its abilities. A service dog should have some ability to carry out tasks that the owner cannot do by themselves. Also, they must have been trained by professionals to carry out such tasks. 

The tasks a service dog needs to carry out may be guiding a visually impaired person, assisting with mobility, retrieving objects, and many more. Also, service dogs can positively impact the daily lives of the handlers.

How old should a dog be to become a service dog?

Any dog that has passed the puppy phase of its life can become a service dog. However, if we talk about an optimum age, many consider two-year-old dogs. After two, dogs have finished their physical growth and are also fit for physically demanding roles.

While regarding mental development, dogs that are two years old are considered suitable. They are more focused on tasks at this age and can execute properly. This adolescence period is a perfect time as they have appropriately adapted to the companionship of a human.

Can I train my pet dog as a service dog?

Yes, you can train your pet dog as a service dog. The only thing to consider is your dog’s personality and training ability. If your pet dog qualifies the requirement of a service dog, you can train to become one. You can housetrain your dog or admit it in a dog service training program.

Some requirements include calm nature, learning abilities, focus, ability to adapt, etc. If your dog starts to follow your commands and repeat the required task, you can further advance the training.

While admitting your dog to a training service program, research the institute first. The training programs can cost thousands of dollars. Make sure to check out the registration and reviews of the institute before enrolling your pet.

Are service dogs, emotional support dogs, and therapy dogs the same?

No service dogs and emotional support dogs are not the same. Service dogs are trained to assist a person with disabilities, and they follow specific standards and must behave appropriately in public places.

An emotional support dog provides comfort to individuals via their companionship. A handler necessarily does not give commands to a support dog. They are only to provide comfort and should not be treated as pets. Doctors must provide appropriate documentation for a handler to certain places.

Therapy dogs are special dogs that are trained to help patients or kids. They can assist and help several people at once. They are only allowed over the premises of their volunteer facilities, and one should not take them outside of the vicinity.

How much does a service dog cost?

Service dogs are pretty expensive due to their costly training methods. Things like food, vet care, dog trainers, and registration bump up the cost. The average price of a service dog can range from $20,000 to $60,000.

The good news is that you can apply for a loan. There are non-profit and governmental organizations that can help you with your finances. Some can help you to raise money or, in the best case, provide service dogs free of charge.


Service dogs are pretty helpful for someone with a disability, and they can improve the quality of life of their handlers by assisting in everyday tasks. Many people can overcome difficulties via their assistance, and handlers can benefit from service dogs.

We hope this article has helped you to know everything about service dogs. You might now have a clear concept about service dogs and how to make a dog a service dog. 

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