Definition of a Service Dog
Learn more about service dog tasks
A service dog, also known as an assistance dog, is trained to assist a person who has a disability. For a person with panic disorder, PTSD and or depression, a psychiatric service dog is trained to make it possible for their person to regain their lives.
Studies have shown that service dogs have a healing impact on people diagnosed with PTSD. Adopters have reported improved sleep, decreased startle responses and a decrease in the need for pain medication. In addition to being well-behaved and unobtrusive in public, a service dog must be able to perform three tasks to benefit their person.
Characteristics and Skills of a Service Dog
Service Dog Program Director
These very special dogs are chosen from local shelters based on their temperament. The ideal service dog is
- friendly and confident in a wide variety of situations with people of all types and abilities
- completely non-aggressive
- controllable, predictable and reliable
Once a dog is selected based on its temperament, the dog is trained to demonstrate the following cues on a consistent basis:
- wait at door
- leave it
- drop it
- leash walking
- polite human greetings
- settle on a mat or in a crate
- house and crate trained
- controlled exit and load into a vehicle
- controlled entry and exit into buildings
In addition, the dogs must be able to work with visual and auditory distractions, as well as in the presence of other dogs. To prepare for public access, the dogs are trained in a wide variety of buildings, including pet stores, lumber stores, offices, banks, retail stores and restaurants. Once a dog is matched with an adopter, the dog is trained three tasks that will specifically aid the adopter with their disability.
Adopting a Service Dog
After your application is approved, our Service Dogs Program coordinator will schedule an orientation to discuss your unique needs and to address any concerns or questions.
The next step is to meet several dogs and to select the one best suited to meet your needs. Once a dog is selected, the three specific tasks will be selected and the dog will begin learning those tasks. Once a dog has mastered the three tasks and is reliable in public, the dog will be ready to join you in your daily life.
As part of the transition, the owner will be given lessons on dog care, dog training and how to transition the dog to the new home. It is critical that the dog and owner work as a team out in public. A series of training sessions over 3 – 4 days will be required prior to certifying the dog and handler team.
For 6 months, the new owner is contacted every month and then at the 12 month point and every year thereafter. Refresher training will be provided when needed. Re-Certification and proof of veterinarian care is required yearly.
Health of the Dog
Service dogs are healthy and have received the following veterinarian care:
- up to date on rabies, DHPP and bordetella vaccinations
- spayed or neutered
- heartworm negative
Fee to Adopt
The cost to train a service dog is $10,000 - $15,000 each. However, due to the generosity of our supporters, the maximum fee any adopter is asked to contribute is $4,500. For Travis and Williamson County Veterans, the fee is based on a sliding scale and could potentially be reduced to $500. (We want our Veterans to 'have skin in the game', so our dogs are never free.) Facility and emotional support dogs are typically $2,500.
Adopters are responsible for the travel and lodging costs of 4 days of training in Cedar Park Texas.
If a service dog will improve your life, we will help you fund raise so that you can adopt a dog.