6 Factors to Consider Before Getting a Service Dog
6 Factors to Consider Before Getting a Service Dog
Did you know that nearly 70 million American households have a dog? Yet, the majority of those dogs are pets.
Pets are a massive responsibility, and service dogs are even more so. Owning a pet dog and a service dog are two very different realities.
But getting a service dog can also be incredibly rewarding and help improve your quality of life. So if you’ve been considering your service dog options, here are seven things to consider before you commit to getting one.
You may think your service dog will already be fully trained when you get them. And oftentimes, they are. But getting a trained service dog doesn’t mean you’ll never have to train it again.
Service dogs still need consistent training like any other dog. They will lose their training and skills if you don’t uphold them. You can’t skimp on the rules or have off time because this will affect their abilities. By continuing their education, you help them become of better service, which is beneficial for both you and the dog.
If you’re only looking for companionship, consider getting a pet rather than a service dog.
2. Questions and Attention
Having a service dog will draw you a lot of attention. You will have to get used to people always stopping you to ask questions.
And don’t forget about the people who will try to challenge your need for a service dog or whether your dog is allowed in certain places. You may become an advocate or educator for business owners about laws regarding service animals from your constant explanations.
While there will be wonderful people you meet in public, you must also prepare yourself for the ones who aren’t so kind.
If you aren’t comfortable with many personal interactions and conflict resolution, you could find yourself in unpleasant situations. It would be best if you learned to be assertive, so you can stand up for yourself and your service dog. This includes not letting anyone pet or feed them.
The expense of getting a service dog is relatively high. The initial cost can be anywhere from $25,000 to $60,000. After all, you’re not getting any dog, but one that comes with a unique demeanor and set of skills to help guide you through life.
You can choose to train a dog yourself to lessen costs, but this takes a massive amount of time and effort. If you don’t have experience training service dogs, this isn’t something you should consider.
You’ll also have to consider the regular costs of having a dog, such as:
- Food and supplies
- Vet visits
4. Application Process
Getting a service dog is an extensive process. You can’t just go to the shelter in your area and pick up the one you want.
First, you need to fill out an application. Then, if the service dog program or owner accepts your application, you’ll need to sit for an interview and provide private information. This will include more information about your medical condition because the service dog provider needs to match you with a dog trained to help with your specific disability.
You will also have to discuss your lifestyle to ensure you can handle taking care of a service dog. Once your application and interview are complete, you’ll probably have to wait months for the program to train your dog or for the right dog to become available.
5. Lifestyle Changes
When you get a service dog, you must realize you will never be alone. Your dog will go with you everywhere and always be within a few feet of you.
If you’re the type of person who needs alone time or significant time away from responsibility, a service dog isn’t the best choice for you. Not only will you have to adapt to always moving around with a dog, which can be tricky in itself, but you need to support them emotionally, even on your worst days.
Changing your lifestyle to support your service dog is essential.
6. How a Service Dog Can Help Mitigate Your Disability
When exploring your service dog options, you need to consider how your dog will help you manage your disability and daily tasks. There are many types of service dogs to help people with various disabilities. Some service dogs you may recognize are:
- Allergy detection dogs
- Autism support dogs
- Diabetic alert dogs
- Guide dogs for the visually impaired and blind
- Hearing dogs for the hearing impaired and deaf
- Mobility assistance dogs
- Psychiatric service dogs
- Seizure alert dogs
When choosing a service dog, you’ll need to ensure they’ve been trained to help with your specific medical condition. But also consider what specific tasks you need help with so your dog can get additional training, if necessary.
Is Getting a Service Dog Right for You?
After considering these seven factors, you should know if getting a service dog is the right decision.
Think about the level of care the dog needs, the costs, training, and lifestyle changes you’ll need to make. But also consider how a service dog can positively impact and improve your life.
If you’re ready to get a service dog, fill out our application at Service Dog School of America. We have fully-trained service dogs to help with PTSD, autism, traumatic brain injury, and more.