Where Do I Get a Service Dog?

sitting dog photo
Photo by C@mera M@n

I used to think that you had to buy a trained service dog in order to get one. A service dog raised and certified by a special organization was probably the only way to do it, from what I had heard.

It turns out this is a common misconception and a big barrier to people getting service dogs who could really use them. There are actually other choices out there for getting a service dog for yourself.

Depending on your situation, one might work better for you than others. I personally chose to owner-train my service dog for many reasons.

Here are three different ways you can acquire a service dog and the pros and cons to each.

A Donated Service Dog from an Organization

There are many organizations out there that run as non-profits. They train and donate service dogs to people with various disabilities. The more famous ones are Guide Dogs for the Blind, and Assistance Dogs International.

The Pros

  • Free or low cost
  • Little work required on your part

The Cons

  • Long waiting lists (2+ years)
  • Often restricts other animals in the home
  • Lifestyle restrictions
  • Possibility that the dog and you won’t quite match up personality-wise
  • Still need training for you to get used to the dog and the dog to get used to your particular needs
  • Dogs not available for all disabilities
  • They do not provide Emotional Support Dogs if you don’t need or qualify for a full service dog

Buying a Service Dog

There are many dog trainers that breed, raise and/or train service dogs and sell them for profit. They work hard to ensure their dogs meet your needs and are healthy.

The Pros

  • Little work required on your part
  • Shorter waiting period

The Cons

  • Generally extremely high price ($20,000 +)
  • You and the dog still need training to get used to each other

Training A Service Dog Yourself

The third option is to owner-train your dog. In my mind, this has a lot of advantages over the other two options. With a little time and learning on your part, you can have a dog ideally suited to you and your needs and situation. It’s really nice.

Owner training appeals to me because of the low cost and the fact that psychiatric service dogs for anxiety are few and far between.

The Pros

  • Low cost (either an adoption fee or fee for a dog/puppy from a good breeder)
  • You choose the dog’s personality and breed
  • No restrictions on other pets in the home
  • Save a life if you’re adopting
  • Learn how to work together as a team from the start. Have a better bond.
  • Learn how to “talk” to your dog so if something new needs to be taught, it’s easy for you to do it yourself.

The Cons

  • Takes time
  • Can be frustrating
  • Possibility that your dog will not be suited for the job after some time invested.

After looking over these three options, which one do you think would work best for your situation? Why?


Photo by C@mera M@n

5 Replies to “Where Do I Get a Service Dog?”

  1. I would like to know more about having a psychiatric dog for my daughter who is preparing to go to college. Like you she is diagnosed with bipolar, anxiety/depression and PTSD symptoms. She does take medication and is under care, however, going away to college will be a strain for someone that doesn’t recognize they symptoms of an attack. I would appreciate any detailed information you could provide to help me through this process.
    Thank you

  2. I am going to train the dog that I have. I am thankful that I have that option. I am also nervous!! I know that for me this is something that will work because having my dog with me helps my anxiety already. I am worried about how others will perceive him. I really don’t want to answer a lot of questions and I certainly don’t want others to say that he is not a trained service dog.

  3. I need help it is hard for me to go outside I panic sounds startled me I need help I think dog would help me scared to go I had a stroke 2 years ago since then I only go out with my husband and if we get separated in a store I panic it gets hard to breathe and I just want to cry please help me get a dog

  4. My young daughter has been battling mental health issues for almost five years and has attempted suicide on many occasions. We have tried everything over the years and nothing really helps, we need a long term solution and i think a service dog could be just what we need and we are more than happy to pay for one if it means, my beautiful daughter feels better within herself, regains control of her life and we, as her family can breath a bit easier ansd sleep without so much worry. Please can you help a very desperate family who just want the simple things in life happiness. Thank you

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