Service dogs are one of the best things that you can get if you struggle with a mental or physical disability. They can improve your quality of life, assist you with specific tasks, and make it easier to navigate indoor and outdoor public spaces.
Whether you have a social anxiety disorder or need to get around in a wheelchair, getting a service dog can change your life. That said, there is one question you have to answer first: where can I get a service dog?
While you can’t adopt a service dog like your average canine companion, there are a handful of methods to get one. You can apply to online wait lists, work with service dog organizations, or train one yourself!
Read on to learn more about where you can get a service dog.
A service dog is a well-trained dog that can help someone who has a disability. These dogs have been around since the early 20th century, and likely earlier, and there are many different definitions of what a service dog is depending on where you live. In the United States, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) defines a service dog as a dog that’s trained to perform specific tasks for people who have disabilities.
Service dogs also have protections under the ADA. You’re allowed to bring them out in public, on public transportation, and have them in your home, even if it’s not pet-friendly.
Service dogs are available for people who have an eligible disability, which needs to be confirmed by a doctor or licensed mental health professional. Organizations like Dog Academy can connect you with a doctor to see if you qualify for a service dog, or you can visit your doctor or therapist for more information.
Some disabilities that qualify for service dog work include:
These are only some of the conditions that qualify for a service dog, so connect with a professional to learn more about whether or not you can qualify.
A good service dog is hard to find unless you decide to train one yourself. You need to make sure they’re from a reputable organization, trainer, or even breeder. Learn more about where to get a service dog below.
Working with a service dog organization is the best way to get a service dog. There are a handful of organizations that will provide you with dogs that are trained for your specific disability. Organizations also ensure that service dogs have the necessary temperament, vaccinations, and training.
Some examples of organizations you can work with include:
These organizations can provide you with ready-to-go service dogs for your disability. Some are free, while others may require you to pay for the training.
You can also train your own service dog and register them with an organization like Dog Academy.
One of the best ways to get a service dog is to train your own service dog. Service dog training is challenging and takes about two or three years if you begin with a puppy. Therefore, it’s important to adopt a puppy of the breed type that best suits your disability. For example, if you want to train a psychiatric service dog it’s best to adopt a poodle or labrador retriever because of their emotional intelligence.
While you can train a service dog yourself, we recommend working with a professional or educating yourself on what needs to be done before getting started.
Mental and physical disabilities don’t have to slow you down when you have a service dog by your side. While getting a service dog isn’t the same as adopting your average canine companion, that doesn’t mean it has to be challenging.
Connect with any local organizations to see what types of service dogs are available near you. Additionally, you can work with a trainer to train your own service dog! Just be ready for the cost and make sure your disability is eligible for a service dog.