Meeting your Service Dog should be a magical moment. Instead, imagine receiving an untrained puppy instead of a helpmate? Now imagine that wild puppy cost you and your supporters $15,000-$30,000!
Folks, this is becoming commonplace as bogus companies prey on the heartstrings of the some of the neediest people and their families. You might ask, how can this happen?
Lack of Regulation.
There are no federal or state training regulations for service dogs. Guidelines for minimum training standards for Public Access are set by the IAADP (International Association of Assistance Dog Partners) but there is no enforcement of this suggestion.
NO test for Service Dogs.
NO certification for Service Dogs.
NO age requirement for Service Dogs.
NO training, education, or certification required for Service Dog Trainers.
People Taking Advantage.
Dog Trainers and Dog Training Companies should be held to the highest standard, but again, there is no regulation of Dog Trainers. Anyone can become a Dog Trainer and buy a certification diploma to hang in their office without ever touching a dog. They can, and they do.
The BEST Dog Trainers and Dog Training Companies hold themselves and their dogs to the highest standards and do not provide services that contribute to poorly trained Service Dogs, inappropriately behaved Service Dogs, or Fake Service Dogs.
Just because a company is operating as a Not-for-Profit does not mean that it is not profitable and does not guarantee that they are providing Service Dogs that meet or exceed IAADP minimum Public Access requirements or have proper Dog Trainer education & experience.
Investigate Your Service Dog Company.
Look for education, experience and credentials of the owners and Dog Trainers. Research each dog training school, program or class attended. If the training is online, verified by an online test, or easily obtained by paying a “membership fee”, question the qualification of the trainer. Can’t find education or training? Run faster than your dog! There are well qualified trainers available, do not settle.
Ask for referrals of current Service Dog clients and call them to learn about their experience.
Meet your Service Dog Trainer, the company, and your potential Service Dog. See how the Service Dog in Training is matched with you (or your child, etc.). Verify the facility is clean and dogs are healthy and well cared for. Find out the details of what specific tasks, obedience commands, and Public Access training your Service Dog will have completed before delivery. GET THIS IN WRITING!
Ask what age your Service Dog will be when training is completed.
Lastly, Service Dogs are NOT PUPPIES!!!!! They should have completed 1-2 years of training and should be spayed or neutered by age 2.
Service Dogs should come with a health guarantee, read the documents carefully to learn what is covered, the limitations, and if they have a program for replacing your Service Dog or refunding your money if the dog’s health becomes poorly.
Support Training should include a comprehensive delivery training for you to learn each of the dogs commands and tasks, experience going out in public, and how to maintain your dog's health, exercise and training for a lifelong partnership. The company should offer support training for the life of your Service Dog.
Don’t become a victim, be an Advocate for Properly Trained Service Dogs!
Katie Weibel, Master Dog Trainer. Providing training for companion, service and working dogs, sharing knowledge and expertise.