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Preliminary Self-assessment for Owner Trainers of Service dogs in British Columbia (non-ADI or IGDF trained dogs) 

Here is that a series of questions about yourself, your situation and your dog that will give you a better idea if training your own service dog might be an option for you and your dog. 

The Handler

  1. Do you have a chronic disability that a doctor or nurse practitioner is willing to fill out a government form? Is your disability stable?
  2. Is there an adaptive technology that would be better suited to mitigating your disability or disabilities?
  3. Does your disability allow that you can go into public places to train your dog?
  4. If you rent or are strata, do you have written permission to keep your dog while in training owner trained? Service dogs in BC are not protected by law for tenancy, transportation or access to public places until they are certified by the BC gov’t
  5. Can you adhere to a regular training schedule for your dog?
  6. Do you have the money set aside to get help with training your dog? Approximately $3000-$6000 is required if you need in-person help. Less if you do some of the training via online classes.
  7. Do you have a support system in place that can help you with training your dog: family, friends, healthcare professionals, dog professionals, groomer, teachers etc. These people can help you with daily exercise and care, training, distractions, taking care of your dog if you get ill, providing access to offices for training etc.
  8. Does your disability allow you to go to public to train your dog? If you have agoraphobia or fear of people in public for example.
  9. Are you willing to learn how to learn to train your dog? There are new techniques and approaches that are more effective in building a bond.
  10. How flexible are you in how long it might take to train your dog two certification level? Do you have a deadline that you need to have your dog certified by for work, school or rental situations? What happens if your dog is not certified by the deadline?
  11. Are you able to calmly communicate with members of the public and retailers, transportation and accommodation providers when confronted? Able to be assertive and take responsibility for yourself and your dog in situations?
  12. Are you willing to take the time to talk to and educate the public about service dogs in BC? This is a part of the role you take on by choosing to have a service dog in public.
  13. Can you afford approximately $1500 per year to maintain your dog this includes but not limited to food, vet visits, grooming etc.?
  14. Do you have or can you arrange transportation transportation to take your dog to public places for training? The minimum amount of training for public access is 120 hours. This needs to be completed over at least six months.
  15. Are you willing and able to travel to different parts of British Columbia for in-person training and testing if you don't have a trainer nearby or don't want to do online training?
  16. Can you use read printed text, watch video, type questions or use adaptive technology to do the previous activities? internet technology, take, edit and upload videos? Then online training might work for you.
  17. Can you follow verbal instructions and copy demonstrations and want someone else to do the training for you? In- person training might work for you.
  18. Have you identified specific tasks that your dog will do to mitigate your specific disabilities?


Your Dog 

  1. Is your dog physically healthy? Dogs with joint issues, breathing issues, severe allergies, seizures and other health issues are not suitable as a service dogs.
  2. Does your dog have a calm, bombproof and resilient temperament?
  3. Is your dog capable of laying quietly for long periods and then moving with you on a short leash?
  4. Are you willing to have your dog spayed or neutered? This is required for certification.
  5. Is your dog of a suitable size and is physically capable of doing the tasks you need to mitigate your disabilities?
  6. Is your dog young enough to give you several years of service before being retired? In general, larger dogs age faster, small dogs age slower and live longer. You might get 5 years of working life of a small dog if he's age 8 and 5 years of a lab from age 4 years.
  7. Does your dog have any fears or anxieties to people of different ages or ethnicities, other dogs, domestic and farm animals, objects, specific situations or locations? How long has this behavior been established?
  8. Does your dog show any predatory behaviors such is silently stalking another animal with intent to do harm? This is not behavior suitable for a service dog. 
  9. Does your dog show any aggression towards people or other dogs or animals for food, toys, bed, space, or has your dog ever bitten a person or other dog?
  10. Does your adult dog already have a great behavior in public? Doing a practice assessment test will give you a good idea. Here is a link to the BC Provincial Test. Take a look to see if you think it is realistic that your dog will be able to do these things. The test takes place in a public place like a busy mall.
  11. Does your dog enjoy learning? Is your dog food motivated? Toy-only motivated dogs tend to be too high-drive to be a service dog.
  12. Can your dog perform behaviors and tasks without choke or prong collars or electric collars? These are not allowed for taking the certification test.
  13. If your city or region has a breed specific legislation then you must abide by those laws until your dog is certified. This might mean having your dog pass the canine good neighbor test before being allowed in public without a muzzle. This is part of the process anyway as an indication of where there might be holes in the training.

Additional Information

The only service dog certificate that is recognized in BC is issued by the Justice Institute. This certification requires an in-person test of you and your dog together. Don’t waste your money on online certifications as they’re not recognized by the province of BC, airlines or the tenancy act.

Therapy dogs who are taken to facilities to work with other people do not have public access. The therapy organization you train with (such as St. John Ambulance) may offer a certification class for them but this is not recognized by BC for public access purposes. Emotional support dogs are not recognized in BC for tenancy and are no longer recognized by airlines (January 2021). Each one has their own requirements.

Owner-training can be a long and detailed process. You also need to know the laws to know your rights and responsibilities.