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Welcome to to Choosing Your Service Dog!  

Since this is the most important first step in successfully training a service dog and the most overlooked step (not any puppy or dog will do), Service Dog Training Institute is Offering this class for FREE. It is so important that this information to be accessible to everyone! 

This is not a typical SDTI class as it is not training related and does not give you an example of the step by step training with video clips that is typical of our Institute. However, since the dog you select is the foundation of the socialization and training you will do, you MUST take some effort to find the right candidate. Would you build a brick house on a foundation of wood?  No, because the wood will erode away before the the bricks do and the house will fall. Finding the right service dog candidate is just as critical.

To save you time, effort, money and prevent emotional turmoil, it pays to carefully select your candidate. You will be putting literally hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars into your service dog both while in training (the first 3 years of the dog's life) and afterwards. Training your own service dog can be cheaper than fundraising a program dog or paying for a privately trained dog, but it still costs money. Click here to estimate your costs. 

Whether puppy or adult dog, the individual dog has to be a match with you and your lifestyle at a fundamental level first. 
If it is not, you'll spend most of your time trying to change a dog into what you want it to be and perhaps removing it from training rather than training and generalizing public access behaviors and assistance tasks. A dog that is not resilient, does not have the appropriate temperament, or is not healthy structurally or medically will not be able to function as a service dog for the long term. Make sure at the very least that the dog's daily exercise needs and intelligence closely match yours. These are the most common reasons owner-trained service dogs fail: the owner cannot keep up to the dog's exercise needs and the dog is too intelligent for the handler. That combination is the cause of more service dogs failing as a service dog than other factors. 

The other key aspect many people fail to consider is themselves. Do you have the characteristics to become a service dog trainer? Read this article to find out. Do you have a service dog support system or ability to develop one? These are important considerations since you are half of the team. If you do not have the needed abilities or resources, and your disability acts up, your dog's social development may be impacted. Training can wait but social exposure and development can't be delayed. And it can make the difference between your dog developing into a successful service dog candidate or not. Set yourself and your dog up to succeed before you start! 

Skim the titles of the sections and choose those that are of interest to you to start. Go back and read the rest as it is all important information to consider. Feel free to print it off if you want! That is what the checklists are for!  

If you are going to read only one lesson, read Lecture 6.  It lists the desirable and undesirable characteristics of an adult service dog candidate. It's a great place to get started.

If you are a organization or business using this information, please acknowledge the source with a link to our website: 

Please share this class with anyone you know is looking for a service dog. These pages will save them time, money,  effort and maybe heartache if training their own dog isn't for them.  

Donna Hill B.Sc. B.Ed. Founder, SDTI