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The Impact of Service Dogs on Depression: A Comprehensive Analysis

Service Dogs and Depression

Depression is a pervasive mental health condition that affects millions of individuals in the United States. While traditional therapeutic approaches are effective, the complementary use of service dogs as emotional support animals has garnered increasing attention in recent years. This article aims to provide an in-depth examination of the role of service dogs in enhancing the mental well-being of individuals with depression. By analyzing a mix of recent and historical studies, we will uncover the benefits of service dogs in mitigating the symptoms of depression, along with the tasks they are trained to perform to support those struggling with this condition.

The Bond between Humans and Service Dogs

The unique bond between humans and dogs is deeply rooted in history. Since ancient times, humans have recognized the therapeutic effects of canine companionship. Service dogs, specially trained to provide emotional support, forge an unparalleled emotional connection with their handlers. This bond forms the foundation for the positive impact these animals have on mental well-being.

Benefits of Service Dogs for Depression

One of the primary benefits of service dogs for individuals with depression is their ability to alleviate feelings of loneliness and isolation. The constant companionship and unconditional love they provide can significantly reduce the sense of detachment experienced by those grappling with depression.

Service dogs also play a crucial role in easing anxiety and promoting relaxation. Their calming presence can help individuals manage stress and reduce anxiety levels. The tactile comfort of petting a dog has been shown to release oxytocin, a hormone associated with feelings of bonding and happiness.

In addition to emotional support, service dogs are adept at boosting mood and improving the overall emotional state of their handlers. Engaging in activities with these animals, such as playing fetch or going for walks, can release endorphins and serotonin, neurotransmitters known for their mood-enhancing effects.

Tasks and Training for Depression Mitigation

Service dogs are trained to perform various tasks that cater to the specific needs of individuals with depression. Their training is tailored to recognize and respond to the distinct symptoms that manifest in different ways for each person. Some of the specific tasks that service dogs are trained to perform to mitigate the symptoms of depression include:

1. Interrupting Negative Thought Patterns: Service dogs are trained to recognize signs of distress or agitation in their handlers. When they observe signs of negative thought patterns, such as repetitive negative thinking or rumination, they can interrupt these patterns by nudging, pawing, or performing other gentle physical cues. This redirection helps individuals focus on the present moment and break free from harmful thought cycles.

2. Providing Deep Pressure Therapy: During depressive episodes, individuals may experience heightened anxiety and physical tension. Service dogs can be trained to apply deep pressure therapy by leaning against or lying on their handlers. This pressure provides a calming effect, reducing anxiety levels and promoting relaxation.

3. Encouraging Physical Activity: Depression often saps individuals’ motivation to engage in physical activities. Service dogs can act as encouraging companions, motivating their handlers to go for walks or engage in playful activities. Regular exercise, facilitated by the presence of service dogs, can release endorphins, which help improve mood and overall emotional well-being.

4. Sensing and Responding to Emotional Changes: Service dogs have an extraordinary ability to sense changes in their handler’s emotional state. They can pick up on subtle cues like increased heart rate or changes in breathing patterns. When a handler displays signs of distress or sadness, the service dog responds with comforting behaviors, such as leaning in for a hug or providing gentle cuddles.

5. Offering Social Support: Depression can lead to social isolation and withdrawal from others. Service dogs act as social facilitators, breaking down barriers and encouraging interaction with others. Their presence often sparks conversations and fosters connections, helping individuals with depression feel less isolated and more engaged in social settings.

6. Navigating Public Spaces: Service dogs are trained to assist their handlers in navigating various public spaces. In environments that might trigger anxiety or discomfort, the dog can lead the way, providing a sense of security and support. This allows individuals with depression to feel more confident and capable while outside their familiar surroundings.

Empirical Evidence and Research Findings

Recent scientific studies have yielded promising results regarding the impact of service dogs on depression. These studies indicate that the presence of a service dog is associated with reduced symptoms of depression and increased overall well-being. The companionship and support provided by these animals have been shown to complement traditional therapeutic interventions, resulting in improved treatment outcomes.

Historical case studies also provide valuable insights into the long-standing use of service dogs for emotional support. Documented experiences demonstrate the enduring positive effects that these animals have had on individuals battling depression throughout history.

Challenges and Considerations

While the benefits of service dogs for depression are evident, challenges remain in making these support animals more accessible to those in need. Issues such as the cost of training and obtaining a service dog can pose significant barriers for many individuals.

Additionally, there is a need to dispel misconceptions and reduce stigma surrounding the use of service dogs for mental health support. Public awareness and education can play a crucial role in fostering acceptance and understanding of the benefits these animals provide.

The Future of Service Dogs in Mental Health Care

As research in the field of animal-assisted therapy continues to evolve, the role of service dogs in mental health care is likely to expand further. Collaboration between mental health professionals and service dog organizations can lead to innovative approaches and best practices in utilizing these animals to support individuals with depression.


The research and studies discussed in this article reinforce the positive impact of service dogs on the mental well-being of individuals with depression. From mitigating feelings of loneliness to providing emotional support during difficult times, service dogs offer a unique and invaluable contribution to mental health care. As our understanding of the human-animal bond grows, so does the potential for service dogs to play an increasingly significant role in enhancing the lives of those affected by depression in the United States and beyond.

One valuable resource for individuals seeking to utilize the support of service dogs is the National Service Animal Registry (NSAR). Registering with the NSAR can provide official recognition of a service dog’s role in supporting mental health. While registration is not mandatory, it can offer various benefits, including easier access to public places and housing that may have pet restrictions. However, it is essential to ensure that service dogs are adequately trained and meet the necessary requirements to fulfill their role effectively.

In conclusion, the continued research and development of service dog programs, along with increased public awareness, hold the potential to create a more inclusive and supportive environment for individuals with depression. As the bond between humans and service dogs deepens, these remarkable animals will undoubtedly continue to make a positive impact on mental well-being, offering hope and healing to those in need.

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How to Properly Train Your Service Dog

A service dog can be a major asset to your life if you suffer from a disability. This could be anxiety, physical ailment, or emotional disability. While some people reach out to an organization to provide the animal, others would prefer to use their own dog. Many feel the process will be easier with their own dog as they already feel comfortable with them. For many people, hiring a professional to train your dog with you is the best way of making them a support animal. Others would rather attempt the training on their own. Here are some tips for properly training your dog to be a support animal.

Find Your Dog

If you don’t already have the dog you want to make your support animal, you will have to find one. It’s widely believed that the breed of the dog is an important factor. It’s actually the temperament that is most important rather than the breed. When choosing a dog to be trained as a support animal, you want one that is intelligent and trainable. For this reason, it’s best to choose a dog between six months and a year in age. Ideally, you’ll want to choose a dog that will approach you without hesitation and doesn’t show aggression, such as growling. A dog that desires contact with you is also good as this shows it’s more docile.

Basic Training

The first part of training a service dog is making sure that they understand basic commands and obedience. These basic commands, such as “sit” and “down,” are useful for any dog but are more important for service dogs. An important aspect of a service dog that separates them from others is their obedience. A service animal must have excellent obedience skills in order to help you. An important aspect of training is to ensure that they don’t get distracted by sniffing other animals or people. This training is often done by having someone walk up to you while the dog is looking at you. If the dog looks at the other person, they should look right back to you. This is because they need to know to pay attention to you and not become distracted. During these early stages of training, the dog is often rewarded with treats.

Special Skills

When training your dog to be a service animal, you’ll teach them specific skills. These skills will depend on your disability because those with different disabilities will need their service dog to perform different tasks. While dogs are smart and can learn many skills, they can only take in so much information in a short period of time. To avoid overwhelming your dog, the skills should be taught slowly, step by step. For example, if you’re teaching your dog to retrieve keys, you first need them to respond to the word “keys.” Then you need to teach them to pick the keys up and bring them to you. It’s best to teach these skills in five to ten minute intervals.

Living with a disability can be made easier with the assistance of a support dog. Properly training the dog is essential to ensuring that they are qualified to help you when needed.

Contact the National Service Animal Registry for more information on registering your dog as a support animal or receiving a service dog certification online.

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Train an Emotional Support Dog to Calm Anxiety

Emotional support animals (ESAs)  are known as dependable companions for individuals with emotional or mental disorders. In contrast to service dogs, emotional support dogs don’t need special training and provide physical assistance to disabled people. However, it doesn’t mean that emotional support dogs will be untrained or behave badly. There is no federal law that requires an emotional support dog to receive specific training before registration, a well-behaved and well-trained Emotional Support dog is simply recognized by others, particularly when you travel with it in an aircraft cabin or are looking for new accommodation. If you’re planning to adopt or purchase a dog for emotional support, or if you intend to train your pet dog, you will follow the guidelines below before you start the training.

What Is an Emotional Support dog?

Emotional support dogs are quite different from service dogs when the thing comes to purpose. Instead of helping in physical activities, Emotional Support Animals dogs provide emotional support to their owners. A dog does not have to undergo any special training just to become an Emotional Support dog. However, the dog should be well-behaved and respond better to his handler. With this, it is essential to consider the traits of dogs to ensure that he can perform the job well. Generally, you will need a dog with a laid-back and mellow nature.

Some of your perfect choices include:

  • Border Collie
  • Labrador Retriever
  • Poodle
  • Bulldog
  • Bullmastiff

Now, this does not mean that you cannot get breeds that are not as subdued. You can get a high-spirited dog or one that is full of energy if you need it. There will not be any issue with that as long as you are willing to spend time and effort in training them to behave. Speaking of training, here is what you want to know.

Qualities of Emotional Support Dogs

The features of a puppy depend almost completely on its parents and breed. Few dogs were born aggressive, over-excited or timid, but it doesn’t mean that these imperfect personalities can never become an emotional support dog if they received the training to do so. An about 1-year-old with a calm and responsible personality can start training. It’s also perfect to look for breeds that are more human orientated and eager to learn like Poodles and Golden Retrievers.

Basic Obedience Training

After selecting a dog, you will start the course with obedience training, involving Heel, Sit, Stop, Down, and Come, etc. The sooner you start with these lessons, the easy it will be to train your emotional support dog. Apart from obedience training, going outside to socialize will also be trained to prevent anti-social behavior like begging, barking, lunging or jumping for food.

Emotional Support Dog Training

Various of the people who need an emotional support dog frequently suffer from autism, anxiety, and are susceptible to self-harming behavior for many reasons. Several studies suggest that the presence of a dog aids to calm these patients and reduce the possibility of recurring stressful attacks. In these cases, properly trained, emotional support dogs apply suitable pressure on the body of owners, chest or other body parts depending on the size of the dog. For instance, a little Papillion will lie directly on the chest of owners, but a tall Alaskan Malamute has to place its feet or head across the lap or legs of owners. This method is particularly appropriate for people who suffer from airsickness. Here’s how to teach your dog this skill.

Step 1: Paws Up Command (On The Sofa)

If your dog has to get used to sitting on the sofa, you can need to tempt it with a few tasty treats. The first step is to show your dog the treats, whilst at the same time slow-moving to the sofa and giving the Paws up command. Give it the treat when you’re near the sofa.

Step 2: Repeat The Exercise

The result of the exercise depends on whether your dog is willing to join you on the sofa, so you can need to practice it patiently, particularly with an adult dog. If you’re a little dog, the main goal is to have all 4 paws on the sofa. Whilst it’s like a big breed to place only the front paws or head on the sofa. Repeat this exercise with treats unless it comprehends what this command generally means.

Step 3: Paws Off Command

The next step is to train emotional support dog to take paws away in the paws off command. This procedure wants to reverse the paws up exercise and wants to take your dog off the sofa with the paws off command.

Step 4: Keep Emotional Support Dog On the Sofa

To calm your anxiety, your dog will apply physical pressure to you. In the case of a little dog, it’s perfect to call it to hug you while it’s lying vertically beside your body, with its paws on your shoulder and its head near yours. While a big dog will put its paws on your legs or lap and keep its head down when you’re in a sitting position. After you will say paws up, followed by the command as soon as it sits next to you. Provide the dog a treat after finishing this task and order it to place its paws down. After some time, try to command your emotional support dog without offering it treats to understand that this is a task instead of a reward game.


Having a dog around can relieve your stress. However, if you’re dealing with significant emotional or psychological impairments, an emotional support dog can be an amazing therapeutic treatment. Click here to find out more about qualifying.

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Training Your Service Dog for Anxiety: Steps to Follow

Anxiety disorders are some of the most common mental health disorders in the United States. Millions of people suffer from severe anxiety every year. Thankfully, we’ve recently discovered that trained service dogs can provide a lot of comfort and relief for those who experience regular anxiety or panic attacks. If you believe that you can benefit from having an emotional support dog to help ease your anxiety, you’ve come to the right place! Below is a brief step-by-step guide to help you choose and train your emotional support dog and receive a registered emotional support dog letter.

#1 Choosing the Right Dog for You

You may be a lover of all dog breeds, but there are particular breeds out there that are better fit for comfort and support. It’ll all come down to a dog’s temperament, which is basically a combination of his personality, instinctual behavior, and natural ability to follow instructions. This means that you may want to avoid breeds that are more aggressive or hyper. Experts recommend looking for dogs that are social, alert, focused, and don’t become easily startled. When you meet a new puppy, you’ll most likely know right away if it’s the right service dog for you!

#2 Begin the Bonding Process

It’s important for you and your dog to get to know each other while he’s still a youthful pup! He needs to understand your behavior and personality just as much as you need to understand his. When you start to bond, you can begin to lay the groundwork for his job, which is to detect your rising anxiety levels. The more time you spend together, the more he’ll start to understand this and be able to detect the difference between your relaxed state and your anxious state.

#3 Begin Basic Training

Remember that your service dog will be able to accompany you in public places, so it’s incredibly important for him to be properly trained. He should be able to follow basic commands such as sit, stay, lay down, heel, and come. It’s common for this to be a bit difficult for dog owners, especially if they’ve never trained a dog before. Don’t hesitate to reach out to a professional dog trainer to help guide you through the basic training process.

#4 Begin Anxiety Response Training

Once you and your dog have had time to bond and perfect basic commands, you can start to target his response to your anxiety. You can do this in a number of different ways, such as cuddling him when anxiety hits or giving him a treat when you feel anxious. He’ll naturally start to pick up on the change in your energy and begin to understand that he should remain close when you’re experiencing anxiety.

#5 Register Your Service Dog

Once you feel your dog is prepared to be an official emotional support dog or service dog, then it’s time to get him registered! Our website has all the information you need to properly register your dog and receive your emotional support dog letter. We also provide therapist referrals, information on housing rights, and even emotional support products for your pup!

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Service Dog Training: Everything You Need to Know

For those who benefit from physical, emotional, or medical assistance throughout daily life, a properly trained service dog can be an incredible asset. Not every animal is qualified to become a service dog, as service dogs must offer a combination of the proper temperament to serve, the acute skills to perform tasks for their owners, and the ability to complete the rigors of service dog training. Service dog training is intense, but it’s critical for dogs to confidently perform the desired tasks and aid their owners with potentially life-saving skills.

But what is involved in the proper training of a service dog? Service dog registration doesn’t necessarily qualify a dog to perform the role of a service animal, as both dog and owner must be confident in the animal’s ability to perform. There are many questions that the average person may have regarding service animal training, such as how much it costs and what role the owner must play in the training regimen. Keep reading to learn more about the training of service dogs.

How Long Does It Take?

While the average dog obedience class may be completed in a matter of weeks, service dog training requires a greater depth of knowledge and a far more rigorous training schedule. After all, for many who depend on service animals, a dog’s ability to consistently perform can mean the difference between life and death. While there’s no set time for service dog training, the training window can typically last between one and two years, depending on the aptitude of the animal and the types of tasks it’s being trained to perform.

What’s Involved in Service Dog Training?

There are two primary components within the service dog training regimen. Those two components are public access behaviors and work and tasks. Public access behaviors are important because they allow your dog to be steady and perform its designated tasks, no matter the situation or environment. For example, your dog must be able to perform in a quiet library or a noisy crowd with equal aplomb. Also, your dog must be able to behave itself well in public to avoid being removed from venues. The second half of the training equation is work and tasks. Those terms refer to the specific tasks your service dog will be trained to perform on your behalf. In other words, work and tasks are the disability-mitigating functions that the dog performs for you. Work and tasks also are important because they distinguish service dogs from emotional support animals and non-service animals. That is the component that qualifies a service dog owner for protections against discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

How Much Does Service Dog Training Cost?

Because of the depth of training that a service dog must undergo, the costs of acquiring a service dog can be quite high, whether you purchase an appropriate dog, and have it trained or buy a pre-trained dog from a service dog program. When comparing the two options, it’s important to note the cost of preliminary veterinary care, the cost of the dog, and the cost to feed and outfit your animal. However, the training costs themselves can range from $1000 to $2000 depending on the length of training and the range of tasks the dog is being trained to perform.

What Is the Owner’s Role in Training?

While a service dog is usually trained by a professional or service dog program, there is a role that must be played by the service dog owner. For many tasks, it’s important that the service dog is in tune with your medical and mental state, which means it must spend time with you to learn your baseline emotional or physiological state. During training, your dog will be attentive and more likely to absorb those cues, which is why it’s important that the owner is accessible to the dog during the training process.

Whether you plan to train or buy a service dog, it’s important that you understand the role played by the owner in training, the associated costs, the length of training, and what is involved with the program. To learn more about service dog training, contact the National Service Animal Registry at (866) 737-3930.

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Train a Hearing Alert Dog

Training your own Alert Service Dog might seem like a difficult task at first, but this article will show you that it is easier than you think.

Dogs love spending time with their people and enjoy learning new things. Once you begin an intelligent and planned training program and are armed with a few tricks to help, you’ll discover training your Service Dog is not only easier than you originally thought, it’s a great way for the two of you to bond have fun!

One key task for all hearing alert service dogs is to bark at specific events, like when someone knocks on the front door. Believe it or not, not all dogs are inclined to bark when you knock on the door. As such, some dogs may need to be taught, if they are going to be an effective alert mechanism for you.

Why do you need to train your Service Dog to bark?

Part of the job of a Hearing Alert Service Dog is to alert you to the presence of strangers. Most, but not all dogs will bark if a stranger comes to their home. It is often an innate, protective instinct.

In addition, training your Service Dog to bark on command is one way to teach him to think critically and communicate effectively. This can enhance his/her quality of life, as well as making yours safer and better.

Teaching a dog to “speak” is straightforward. It will give you confidence and experience to embark on additional training paths with your Hearing Alert Service Dog; a benefit to you both.

Make your Service Dog feel at home

Before you begin the training, think about what you want your service dog to do.

If your dog doesn’t instinctively bark when someone comes to the door, ask yourself why? Maybe your dog is naturally a mellow and quiet animal. That’s ok; it isn’t a problem. With encouragement and training you’ll be able to teach him to bark when you need him to.

Sometimes, though dogs don’t bark instinctively because they aren’t confident enough yet in their home to feel the need to protect it and/or they may have a level of anxiety.

If your dog is new to you, training him as a hearing alert service dog is a great way to start bonding with him or her. Just remember to be patient while he settles into his new home and gets to know you.

If he suffers from anxiety, make sure he has the opportunity to socialize with other dogs and people outside the home. Socialization is the key to lessening anxiety and will make him feel protective both of you and your home. And once he feels protective, he is more likely to bark in the presence of strangers.

How to train your Hearing Alert Service Dog to bark

Step 1: Decide on your reward system

If you’ve already trained your dog for some behaviors, you may already have a reward system in place. If so, use this reward system when teaching your Service Dog to bark and they will no doubt respond to “speak” training very quickly.

If you haven’t yet established a reward system, read on to find out about using a clicker, treats, and other positive reinforcement to make training easier.

Use a clicker. Using a clicker to train your Service Dog is an effective method to teach the dog to identify what it is you want him to do. Every time he demonstrates good behavior CLICK – REWARD – PRAISE. He will learn to love hearing the sound of the click as he will associate it with a treat and your praise, and will be quick to do what you want him to.

Choose great treats. Dogs (and humans!) respond best to rewards they like, so make sure you use tasty rewards when training your Service Dog. Tiny pieces of cheese, bits of sausage or broken up dog treats are great rewards. You can also find a great variety of training treats in your local pet store. It’s good to vary the treats to keep your dog interested. The key is to make sure the treat is something your Service Dog really enjoys. Start your training session with a taste of the treat to get him excited!

Positive affirmation. Rewarding good behavior works with dogs, just like it does with children and adults! When your Service Dog does what you want it to during training, reward it with a click, treat, and praise. Making a fuss for learned good behaviors will show the dog that this is what you want him to do and enable him to associate the behavior with a positive outcome. This will make learning quicker, more effective, and fun for both of you.

Step 2: Reward your Service Dog when they bark naturally

In order to teach your Service Dog to bark on command, start out by waiting for him to bark and rewarding the bark with a treat.

First, give him a tiny taste of the treat (or a sniff of the toy) to get him excited. Then hold the treat in your hand and move it around playfully to encourage his interest. When he makes even the tiniest of sounds, reward him with a click, treat, and praise.

You might have to wait a while at first until he makes the first bark and it might be such a small sound you miss it. Keeping your closed hand (containing the treat) near his mouth, to help you feel his breath when he makes the tiniest of barks. Be playful to keep him interested. Reward these early sounds and they will get more distinct as he gets more confident.

If you’ve already trained your Service Dog to do other things (sit, down etc) he might start working his way through his repertoire to see exactly what it is you want him to do. This is good because he shows he is thinking critically. Ignore all the other behaviors until he makes a sound. See him have an “Aha!” moment when you reward him and he realizes what it is you want him to do!

Once he has made a sound and been rewarded a few times, keep the momentum going but only reward the barks as they sound more distinct. The first time he makes a proper bark give him a few pieces of the treat in quick succession (or a big old tug of war on the toy if that is his reward of choice) to show you are really pleased with his behavior.

Remember to make a fuss of your dog when he does well and to be playful during training. This is a sure-fire way to make sure he loves your training sessions and will respond well to what you are trying to teach him.

Step 3: Teach him a command

Once your Service Dog has started to associate barking with a click and treat, choose a command to associate with the behavior such as “speak” or “talk”.

Now, every time he barks, say the command at the same time immediately followed by click – reward – praise.

It doesn’t matter which command you choose, if you are consistent. Your Service Dog doesn’t know what the words “speak” or “talk” mean. Whichever command you choose will mean “bark” to him.

Step 4: Teach him a hand signal

Once he has responded to the command a few times by barking, add a hand signal (should as a pointed finger) to the command.

Now every time he barks on command combined with the hand signal, click – reward – praise. At first, even a small sound should be rewarded but as he gets more confident only reward the distinct barks as before.

If you do this consistently, he will soon learn that the command and hand signal are associated with barking and that he will be rewarded. Eventually, you may choose to drop the command and have him respond only to the hand signal.

Step 5: Teach him to bark when you want him to

Once you have him barking on command you can train him to bark in certain situations, such as when someone comes to the door or the phone rings.

Rather than training him only when someone really comes to the door or calls you, ask a neighbor or friend to help you practice.

Ask someone to knock on the door, give your Service Dog the command. If he barks, reward him.

Your Service dog will be more interested if you show interest, so make sure to make a bit of a fuss when checking out who it is at the door.

Similarly, ask someone to phone you. Give your Service Dog the command, and reward him if he barks.

Step 6: Teach your Hearing Alert Service Dog to be quiet

Just as soon as you’ve taught your Service Dog to bark, you’ll probably need to teach him to be quiet as you want him to alert you, but not become a nuisance for your or your neighbors.

Now he knows what the command means, only reward barking when you give the command. You don’t want him to think barking will always get a reward.

The best way to train your Service Dog to be quiet is to catch the point where he stops barking, use a command (for example, “ssh” or “quiet”), and reward him. If you do this consistently, he will learn to associate the command with quiet and do it on command.

Practice “speak” and “quiet” together to reinforce the training.

Top tips for training your Service Dog

Little and often is the best way to train a Service Dog. So, practice every day for short bursts. That way your dog will enjoy your attention and learn without getting bored. If your Service Dog loses interest, stop the training for a while and pick it up later. Let him see you put the treats away. When they come out again, he might be more enthusiastic!

Motivation is key. It’s hard to train a dog to “speak” unless he wants to, so motivation is the key to success. Make sure you are playful and enthusiastic during training sessions, use rewards consistently and praise him when he does what you want him to do. This is the way to ensure he loves learning new things, which will make him easier and quicker to train.

Keep treats on hand. Positive reinforcement (rewarding the behavior you want him to demonstrate) is the best way to train a dog. Make sure you always have treats on hand, in your pocket or in strategic places around the house, so you can reward good behavior immediately.

Training isn’t limited to training sessions. Consistency is key when training a Service Dog so don’t limit it to training sessions. When he demonstrates good behavior in real life, take the opportunity to reward him.

All dogs are different. Some dogs are easier to train than others depending on their breed, age, and background. With regard to certain behaviors, such as barking, some dogs and breeds are naturals, whereas others are not so much. Be patient and consistent and your Service Dog will get there in the end.

How to Train Your Hearing Alert Service Dog to Bark

Training your Service Dog doesn’t have to be difficult. Once you get started you’ll realize how well dogs respond to learning new things and how much they enjoy it.

Teaching your Service Dog to bark not only enables him to perform an essential job for you, it also gives him the opportunity to please you and get rewarded, exercise his brain and to bond with you.

As well as helping him to become an effective watchdog you’re also making him happy. Now, there’s something to bark about!

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How Much Does It Cost to Train a Service Dog?

Service dogs are an essential part of many individuals’ lives. These dogs are specially trained to provide support and assistance with particular tasks that a disabled individual may be unable to accomplish themselves. Most people acquire a dog that has already been trained to provide the assistance they require. However, some individuals who already have a dog may choose to have that dog trained as a service dog. If you’re in this situation, you’re likely wondering what such training can cost. Keep reading to learn more.

The Cost of Training

Unfortunately, it’s impossible to put a specific sticker price on what it will cost you to take your dog from a pet to a service animal. There are so many different factors that will influence your dog’s training and impact the total cost. A professional dog trainer may charge $150 or even $250 per hour for a private training session, so it will largely depend on how much time it takes for your dog to be fully trained. You may also be able to find service dog training for free in some places to help offset these costs. However, you can expect to spend several thousand dollars on properly training your dog to provide the service you need.

What Tasks Do You Need Done?

One of the major factors that will impact the total cost of your dog’s training is the exact task or tasks your dog needs to perform to assist you with your disability. For example, it will take a dog a lot more time to learn how to properly guide a blind person on the street than it will take them to learn to alert a hearing-impaired owner to someone at the door. The more complex the task, the longer it will take for the dog to learn, and the higher the cost of training will be.

How Obedient Is Your Dog?

Another major factor impacting how long it will take to train your dog-and therefore, how much it will cost to train them-is how obedient your dog is. If your dog is largely untrained in any way, they’ll need to learn basic obedience before they even begin their service training. On the other hand, a dog that is well trained and very obedient already is going to be able to learn the tasks they need to perform much more quickly.

Additionally, some dogs will simply pick up on training much more quickly than others. On average, a dog with previous obedience training can take between four and six months to be trained for just one service task. However, it can take up to two years for your dog to be fully trained to perform their necessary tasks in public, where there are bound to be things to distract them from their job.

How Much Training Can You Provide?

The final major factor impacting the cost of training your dog will be your ability to spend time working with your dog on their training. If you’re unable to help your dog work on learning their task on a daily basis, the entirety of your dog’s training will fall on the trainer and it will take much longer for your dog to learn the task. However, if you or someone else in your household can devote some time every day to practice and work with your dog, they will be able to learn their service task much more quickly.

Training your current canine companion to be a service dog allows you to receive the assistance you need from a service animal without needing to purchase another dog. If you’re hoping to train your dog as a service dog, look for service dog training in your area and begin your dog’s training as soon as possible. Once your dog is trained, National Service Animal Registry can help you register them and purchase a service dog vest for them.

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How to Teach Your Dog to Come

Teaching your service dog or emotional support animal to come when called is essential to the training process. If you want to have any type of control while you are in or out of your house, you must start teaching your dog to come when called as soon as you bring them home.

To teach your service dog to come when called they will need to know the sit command first. Once they are well versed with “sit” you can move onto “come”. You will need a few supplies. A long training, leash, some toys and treats, a pet cot or bed, and some patience will get you well on your way!

Whether your dog is a brand new puppy or a full grown adult, you must approach the training with the same mindset: Consistency is key!

Step One:

Put the long training leash on your service dog. Grab a handful of treats let them get a good sniff. They should be very excited about these treats. Tell your dog to sit. Once they get into a sit, jump backward, leaning slightly forward towards them. Keep the treats at their nose level. As you move tell them to come in a very enthusiastic tone. Your service dog should be inclined to move towards you for a couple of reasons: the treat you are holding, and the movement. Dogs are very drawn to movement. This will be a big part of teaching them to come. Being bent forward is a very inviting position for dogs. This will encourage them to move to you as well.

Once your emotional support animal or service dog gets to you, reward right away. Make sure you don’t reward them if they are jumping on you or distracted. They should be looking at you expecting their reward.

Repeat this process with every meal you feed your service dog for about a week. You are building drive and focus on you so when you tell your dog to come, they are excited to do it.

Step Two

Pair ESA dog training with the command stay

Teaching your emotional support animal or service dog to come when called will pair well with teaching them to stay. Use a designated spot like a pet cot. The cots are elevated and will actually help your dog focus better. A bed will work as well. Your service dog needs to have a designated perimeter so they understand where they need to stay until you tell them to come.

Start by showing your service dog their spot. Lure them onto it with treats if needed. Do not force them onto it. Once they understand this is a nice place for them you can start actively using it for training.

When you’re ready to get to work, have treats handy but try not to let them know it. Put them on their spot and tell them to stay. When you tell your service dog to stay, stand up straight. Put your hand out like a stop sign and firmly use the “stay” command. Take one step back. Do not repeat your command. It is likely your dog will jump right off and come to you before you call them. It will take some time and repetitions for them to actually stay put. Age and attention span will have a big effect on the number of repetitions you must do. Once they are staying, start to build on the “come” command. Enthusiastically call them to you and put them into a sit when they get there. Reward them while they are in the sitting position.

While you are working on this, make sure you pause for a moment before you call them. If you step back and immediately call them, they may not be understanding the “stay” part of the command. Try to count to five before you call your dog. Then when you do, take a small step back as you give the command. You will be using that movement to draw your dog to you, but there needs to be a definitive pause between the two commands.

Put more distance between you as your emotional support animal gets better with the command. Once you are moving further away, you should be able to turn your back to walk away. A lot of people will put their hand out and back away slowly, displaying a lack of confidence. This will tell your dog you don’t believe in yourself and they shouldn’t either. Remember, worst case scenario, they hop off and you just calmly put them back onto their spot.

Before moving onto the next step, you should be able to walk across the room. When you call them, they should come right to you. If they are stopping short or getting distracted along the way use the long leash to bring them all the way to you. Then on your next attempt, start a little closer. Continue to practice the short come, sit sequence with their meals as well.

Step Three

Move to a patio or driveway to start teaching your emotional support animal or service dog to come when called outdoors. Remember to have their long leash on, and plenty of treats.

You will need to repeat the beginning process outside. To your service dog, this is basically starting at square one again. Use their food or treats and do the short come-sit sequence. If they are doing well with this, begin working on stay and come with their bed or pet cot.

As you progress, start making your service dog stay while you walk around. Put them on their spot and walk away, but don’t immediately call them to you. Walk in a circle around them. Your emotional support animal or service dog should be watching you the whole time. When you call them to you, they should come directly. If they stop short or get distracted, use your leash. The long leash will come in handy when you start working on longer distances. It gives a physical way to back up your commands if your service dog decides not to listen.

Remember, consistency is key! If your dog decides not to listen, or gets distracted, you must follow through on your command.

Step Four

Conduct the training in your yard

Work in your yard. Use your service dog or emotional support animal’s designated spot all around the yard. Make them stay for longer periods of time. Then repeat and make them come immediately. Switch it up to keep them engaged. You don’t want them to figure out the routine. If this happens you will both likely get bored very quickly.

If you have a fenced in space, this is a good time to drop the leash. Practice recall without any leash back up. You should still keep it on just in case they do not listen but do your best not to rely on it. Remember to take a small step back as you give the “come” command. This movement encourages your service dog to come to you.

Step Five

Start practicing come on your walks. Have your service dog or emotional support animal stop and sit on the sidewalk. Take a few steps ahead, turn around to face them, and give the “come” command. You should continue to use treats for this exercise.

When you are walking pay very close attention to your surroundings. If there is another dog on the other side of the street, practice at that time. Slowly introduce these types of distractions to build your service dog’s focus.

Step Six

Practice in public spaces. Training your dog to come doesn’t require a lot of space to work in. You can have your emotional support animal or service dog stop and sit anywhere. Take advantage of higher levels of distraction. Practice at the pet store or hardware store. Practice in parks and on the sidewalk. At this point, you should no longer be relying on the leash at all. This exercise is simply meant to reinforce the training in different places.

If you find your emotional support animal or service dog is struggling, take a step back, and practice in a less distracting environment. Moving too fast can make it more difficult for both of you.

Bringing your emotional support animal or service dog with you to public spaces is a vital part of their job. Having a solid recall is one of the most important things you can teach them before doing so. Even if you don’t intend to take your dog off of their leash, they should still know it. It could save your dog’s life if they accidentally get loose. Being able to let them off of their leash in parks and even just in your yard gives them more freedom. Being able to get them to come when called gives you peace of mind. It’s a win for everyone!