So, you love dogs and have been meaning to get a service dog that is trained to meet your specific needs.
If that’s the case there’s a lot you need to know about them.
Service dogs can accomplish amazing feats on a daily basis. They have an incredible history of providing top-notch service to those with physical disabilities. Helping the disabled open and close doors, guiding them on the street, and retrieving medication from the refrigerator – these are just a few among the many tasks a service dog can help with.
However, buying a service dog is a mammoth decision, one that requires you to consider several crucial aspects and give it plenty of time.
Here’s what you should consider before getting a service dog.
- Financial Requirement
It is important for you to know that getting a service dog through an established program or training it yourself will be an expensive affair.
Going for an established program will require you to pay application fees, travel, room, and board costs, equipment fees, and the actual cost of the dog, which can range from $5,000 to $20,000 (extremely specialized dogs).
If you decide to owner-train a service dog, you will be responsible for the cost of the dog, veterinary costs and testing, temperament testing, transport, initial training, advanced training, necessary titling/certifications (CGC or C.L.A.S.S. or the ATTS Temperament Test), gear and equipment, quality food, toys, emergencies, preventative medication, grooming, and other important supplements.
A service dog is a hard-working dog with special skills. Hence, its estimated annual cost of maintenance is relatively more than a dog kept as a pet. The estimated annual cost of maintaining an assistance dog including food, supplies, and veterinary care averages around $1,600. Do check your eligibility for scholarships given by several state agencies and local civic organizations as that can help you obtain a service dog.
Planning about covering the costs before you get a service dog can work in the long term. However, there are several financial assistance opportunities available today that can help you deal with the costs effectively.
- Providing Daily Care
Having a service dog has a myriad advantages. However, you’ll have to accept your canine’s responsibility wholly in order to receive those benefits.
Are you willing to take care of your dog for the rest of his life?
Service dogs require daily upkeep. They get sick, injured and need proper care. You need to ensure to meet his needs, especially when the going gets tough for it.
Most importantly, consider how a dog will fit into your daily lifestyle. A service dog possesses highly-trained and specialized skills. If you spend most of your day in your power chair, a service dog will help to further improve your mobility, thereby making your every-day tasks simpler.
But, you should remember that a service dog needs his skills to be maintained and enhanced on a regular basis. You should be willing to provide the time, training and the practice needed to ensure that the service dog doesn’t backslide.
- Expectations and Responsibilities
You may have several expectations from your service dog, especially relating to the way in which he will help improve your daily life. However, it is essential that you first discuss about it with the organization you’re planning to get the dog from.
Remember, a service dog is not a piece of equipment, but a living creature. You may have tough times too as you deal with it. You will have to meet his needs, in order to ensure that he serves you to the best of his ability.
It’s important to remember that caring for a service dog is a long-term proposition. So, will you be able to fulfill its requirements, while simultaneously not letting its training lapse even for minor durations?
- Things You Should Ask the Provider
Several service dog agencies may ask you to submit a letter explaining your expectations from the dog prior to the application process. When getting the dog, don’t forget to ask the agency certain important questions related to:
- The dog’s breed
- Application fees and other types of fees to be paid
- Training period of the service dog
- Trainer’s qualifications
- Certification related to the dog and his trainer
- Training for the dog and his recipient as a team
- Waiting period for the dog
Most importantly, make sure to explain your disability to the agency beforehand, so that they can provide you with a dog that meets your needs perfectly.
The above-mentioned aspects play a crucial role when getting a service dog. They will help you make an informed decision. Remember that your disability shouldn’t stop you from living a fulfilling life. A service dog can provide you with physical as well as emotional assistance. He can help you reach new levels of independence. Moreover, partnering with the specially-trained pooch may also help build your confidence and achieve the much-needed peace of mind. However, it is important to understand that at the end of the day, every disabled person has unique needs, desires, and abilities. Bear those in mind and make a decision accordingly.