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