Service Dog Training Institute Logo Banner

Are You Ready to Start Training? 

Read below to find out!

6 Steps to Training Your Own Service Dog

Now that you have an idea of what's involved in training your own service dog or assistance dog, there are 6 steps you need to consider: We want to set you up to succeed! 

1. Make sure your disability is stable or at least you have a good understanding of your day to day abilities and energy levels. You won't be ready to focus on caring for and training a service dog candidate until you are able to take care of yourself. Having a dog is a long-term commitment. Raising a puppy to adulthood takes time, energy and focus. Think of the process as raising a baby for the first two years. Could you do it while living with your disability? 

2. Evaluate your situation. Can you provide a suitable physical, social and emotional environment for a dog and have the ability to provide for all the dog's needs? Can you get out and about to train in public places? You may need to get help to do so.

3. Evaluate your dog. Make sure you have the right dog for the job! Choose carefully as few dogs are successful as service or assistance dogs for public access, even when specially bred by programs. If you are planning to use your dog as an "at home" service dog only, then there is more leeway but the dog still needs to be able to do the needed tasks and have the maturity to reliably do them.

4. Earn or raise the funds needed to maintain your dog, train her to a professional level and maintain the health and training.

5. Create your support team to help you. It takes a community to raise, train and maintain a working service dog. 

6. When you are ready, online classes and web cam sessions help you maintain the regular training structure you and your dog need to succeed. At least high speed internet is required. 

desktop computer and keyboard

Let our self-paced online classes guide you 
through the process and support you through building your service dog team using text and video-based online classes with optional private weekly webcam sessions! 

We have been helping service teams globally online since 2008!  

We Offer Four Options:

1. Online "Self-Study" courses where you follow along the text, photos, diagrams and videos on your own at you and your dog's pace. 

2. Weekly 1 to 1 web cam sessions are available to purchase with classes. 3 x 30 minute a month keep you motivated to train, teach you good training technique, answer questions you have, problem solve, give you a chance to get feedback on training videos etc.

3. Check out our Fast Track Program! This provides daily help for weekly periods!

4. One hour web cam support for general help, planning, behavior problems, specific task training, consulting etc.

We can help you teach the foundation (core) skills needed for any type of service dog: mobility dogs, hearing alert dogs, seizure response dogs, autism dog, medical alert dogs, diabetic alert dog, Alzheimer's alert dog, Veteran service dog, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) dog etc.

Is Certification Needed?

That varies depending on where you live.

Learn the laws of your country regarding certification requirements. They are usually listed under Human Rights Acts (related to disabilities). Service dogs may or may not be specifically mentioned but are covered by the "disability" part of the act. Service and Assistance Dogs are typically considered medical equipment in the acts. Justice Departments of the state or province tend to deal with the certification. Service Dogs in Training (SDit) may or may not be included in the laws. SDit may be allowed public access during training or considered pets until certified in others. 

In the US, certification of service dogs for public access is not necessary under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), but proof of training may be helpful down the road in case there is an incident involving your service dog so keep records.

In Canada, BC, AB, and Nova Scotia, certification for public access makes life much easier and is done by the province. Ontario only requires a doctor's note.

Be aware that there are separate laws for public access, employment and housing. If you need your dog at your workplace or living with a dog in a rental, strata or similar situation, you need to do your research.

Does Service Dog Training Institute provide a certificate once the classes are complete?
No. While we could do so, the certificate would not be worth the paper it is printed on since we do not conduct in person tests and there is a government administered standard who will test out-of-region service dog teams. The only valid (legal) certification is when the dog and handler are tested in person in real-life situations. Any other certificates that are issued online without seeing the team work in person are worthless.

You will receive a receipt for each SDTI class that you can use to document training participation. The receipts do not entitle any legal right for public access or certification in regions where dogs are required to be certified.

The SDTI program is designed to get you and your dog to easily pass the BC Guide and Service Dog Assessment test (or your local equivalent) which is held in high regard in service dog circles. We believe in teaching beyond the test which means you will be ready for real world experiences rather than a test in controlled situations. Anything can and does happen in real life!

Training Journal
We recommend that you keep a training journal to document training. Every class has a checklist of behaviors and objectives.
Make sure to include video footage of any practice public access test that you do. That will help to document your training if you are ever faced with legal challenges for your service dog. 

Check out our most recent video series:
Note there are updates in the video description about laws etc. 

***We teach you how to use positive reinforcement training methods endorsed by the BCSPCA***