From alerting others in cases of medical emergencies, to helping their owners navigate the world that may be otherwise inaccessible, service animals are truly life-changing companions.
At Russell’s K9 Academy, we are experienced at training dogs in the Central Florida community to live up to their full potential. Whether that’s learning basic obedience skills or more rigorous training to become a service animal, we have the expertise to help ensure your furry friend fits your lifestyle.
What is a service dog?
According to the Americans with Disability Act (ADA) a service dog is defined as any dog that is individually trained to perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability. The tasks these highly-trained dogs perform can range from pushing wheelchairs, guiding blind or visually imparied individuals on a walk, alerting someone to a noise, or even retrieving medication for their owner.
It is important to remember that service dogs are classified as working animals and are not considered a pet by the ADA.
How do you get a service dog?
There are many accredited organizations that train service animals for specific specialties, but waitlists for these animals can be lengthy and can sometimes take years! The cost can also be prohibitive, as it is very expensive to obtain a fully-trained service dog.
To get around the high costs and limited inventory, many people have found success training on their own or with a trusted advisor. Russell’s K9 Academy has helped clients train dogs with a variety of specialties. We offer private, individualized training programs that mimic your everyday lifestyle.
What makes a good service dog?
The first step is simple: assess your dog. Does your dog have the basic personality traits required to be an effective service animal? Here are some of the key traits to consider if your dog will make a good working animal.
When beginning training a service dog, it is best to not have a dog that is too young or too old. With puppies, it can take a few months for their personalities to emerge so it’s best to wait until they are a little older. On the other hand, dogs that are over three years old, will likely be harder to train and their more advanced age cuts down on their working years.
When picking out a dog to train as a service animal, it is best to look for dogs that are healthy and exhibit no outward signs of ill-health such as uneven gait or breathing issues. Depending on what tasks you will need the dog to perform–such as pushing a wheelchair–they may also need to be large and muscular.
Perhaps the most important aspect to assess is the dog’s personality and temperament. A service dog must be calm, alert, and reliable in all situations. Hyperactive and aggressive dogs would not be good candidates as a service animal. Here are a few other characteristics to look out for:
- Social (not too social!)
Start A Service Dog Training Program
Once you find your perfect service companion, it is ready to begin training. Training a service animal is time consuming and requires a lot of patience! Not only must your dog master basic obedience commands (such as sit, stay, come), your dog must also learn the more advanced skills you require for support.
Russell’s K-9 Academy will be with you every step of the way to ensure your dog becomes your most trusted companion. Reach out to us today to learn more about our service dog training services in the Central Florida area.