According to the Americans with Disabilities Act, a service dog is defined as a dog that has been individually trained to do work or perform tasks for an individual with a disability. This includes a wide variety of services these dogs can perform, including medical alerts, guide dog services, mobility assistance, emotional support, and more.
The cost of training these service dogs can be quite expensive because they must undergo special selection and extensive training to get their job done. So exactly how much does it cost to train a service dog? The answer isn’t so simple.
The Importance of Professionally Trained Service Dogs
Service dogs play a very important role in their owner’s life. They restore the quality of life for people with varying issues and are even lifesaving for many. The specific role they play in assisting their person with everyday life depends on the condition the person suffers from.
The ADA provides many resources surrounding the rights of individuals with legitimate service dogs and the regulations and expectations of the animal, which include how they are expected to behave in public.
Many people take advantage of the service dog industry and parade their pets around as service animals, which is not only morally reprehensible and unfair to those with expertly trained service dogs but is also potentially dangerous.
Service dogs must be well trained in not just their field of expertise, but in obedience and public access for the safety of themselves, their owners, and the general public.
How Much Does a Service Dog Training Cost?
Breaking down the exact cost of service dog training is impossible because there are so many different types of services these dogs provide and each service requires varying levels of training and different avenues of training, too.
Dogs that require more intensive training such as guide dogs and hearing dogs will naturally be more expensive because of the rigorous training they must go through. While professional dog training typically costs between $150 and $250 per hour, businesses and organizations will typically select, train, and place service animals.
Areas of Training
Service dogs go through more areas of training than your typical family pet. Here’s a quick breakdown of what service dogs are trained in beside their specific duty, which varies depending on the service:
Basic obedience is something that every dog should go through. During basic obedience dogs will learn commands such as sit, stay, come, heel, down, and more. Basic obedience for service dogs will go much further in terms of communication, manners, and overall behavior and expectations.
Public access training is a process where a service dog in training is exposed to public places to establish their behavior and will gradually be asked to perform tasks starting with basic obedience and eventually their advanced, specific service dog duties.
Service Dog Price Range by Type
|Service Dog Type||Price Range|
|Guide Dog||$45,000 – $60,000|
|Hearing Dog||$20,000 – $50,000|
|Mobility Assistance Dog||$15,000 – $30,000|
|Seizure Alert Dog||$15,000 – $30,000|
|Diabetic Alert Dog||$8,000 – $20,000|
|Psychiatric Service Dog||$10,000 – $20,000|
|Autism Service Dog||$30,000 – $50,000|
|Allergy Detection Dog||$10,000 – $20,000|
Additional Costs to Anticipate
There are plenty of other costs outside of the initial cost of the service dog. Most service dogs will not only come fully trained, but they will come fully vetted, spayed, or neutered, and with any necessary documentation such as special identification papers, training certificates, and a vest or ID that identifies them as a service animal.
Here’s a quick list of some of the costs associated with service dogs before placement with their permanent handler:
Service Dog Selection
Service dogs cannot just be randomly picked for duty, there is a specific selection process for puppies to even be considered for this type of training. Here are some of the traits that are looked for during the selection process:
1. Desire to Work and Please
Service dogs must have an intense desire to work and please their owner. Their lives will be dedicated to the work they are trained to do, so you need a dog that is up for the task. Training requires an eagerness to please, so this is an important aspect of the selection process.
2. Calm and Friendly Disposition
Your service dog must be on their best behavior when out in public. They cannot be rambunctious or cause any type of disturbance while they are out and about. They also need to be friendly toward strangers and other animals but not over the top enough to distract them from their duty.
Service dogs have a very serious job and have complex duties that require a certain level of intelligence that you don’t find in just any dog. Service dogs must be analytical and have good decision-making.
4. Ability to Focus
A service dog’s focus must be on its owner and its job. To get through the selection process, one must be able to focus without being too distracted by outside disturbances.
Service dogs cannot be reactive animals that lash out in fear, aggression, or have a timid nature. Any dogs that display these traits are typically not considered for service dog work.
6. Scent Driven (Alert Dogs)
Alert dogs rely on their scent to do their job. Trainers will keep an eye out for the puppies that enjoy using their noses and are highly motivated by play that uses their scent.
How Long Does It Take to Train a Service Dog?
The length of time it takes to train a service dog can vary significantly. This is dependent on their specific duty and who is training them. On average, it can take anywhere from 4 months to 2.5 years for a service dog to be considered fully trained and ready for duty.
Most Common Service Dog Breeds
The best service dogs are intelligent, easy to train, calm under pressure, not easily distractible, and highly reliable. Breeds that are bred specifically for these traits and have a long history of this kind of behavior typically make the best service dogs.
These dogs must have to remain attentive and responsive to their owners’ needs and must be focused at all times without being phased by large amounts of people, other animals, loud noises, and traffic. The most popular dogs chosen for duty include:
- Related Read: 10 Remarkable Service Dog Statistics: What to Know!
The cost to train a service dog varies greatly depending on the service they provide. Typically, the total cost of a service dog costs anywhere between $8,000 and $30,000 but can be as much as $60,000 or more for those that require more intensive training.
The total cost of the service dog does include the initial cost of the dog, the veterinary care, and all training. There is assistance available for those that need a service dog but do not have the funds to afford the hefty price.
Featured Image Credit: Rolf Klebsattel, Shutterstock