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🐾The Path to Self-Training: Exploring Service Dog Possibilities Beyond the Waitlist 🐾

Updated: Aug 18, 2023

By Lisa, The Traveling Dog Trainer

Have you ever wondered about the process of selecting the right service dog for your specific disability? Or perhaps you're curious about the possibilities beyond applying for a pre-trained service dog from a program somewhere, which often involves a staggering cost of up to $20,000 and a waiting period of 2 to 3 years? Because of the cost and the waitlist, self-training service dogs is a legal and possible option that many consider. However, the path can be challenging. That's where I come in with my personalized service, guiding you through every step of the journey with seemingly unmatched and unique trainer experience. From reenacting meltdowns - away from the handler's presence to ensure the dog is reliable for it - and not causing an actual meltdown to the owner - I can help you and your dog thrive at task training. Visit my last blog for the specific conditions I help self-train service dogs for.

Empowering You to Self-Train Your Service Dog

In the modern USA, the choice to self-train your own service dog is entirely legal. Accredited trainers or facilities are not a necessity, but how else to get a service dog, you ask? That's where I step in to offer my specialized service. I personally work with you, typically meeting twice a week, typically for a year or year and a half. Together, we navigate real-life distractions that mimic your daily routines, and whether your goal is to take your service dog traveling by plane, navigating a wheelchair or scooter, attending museums, visiting fairs, department stores, restaurants, zoos, and beyond. The aim is to shape a well-rounded canine companion that seamlessly integrates into your unique lifestyle and promote your independence.

Comprehensive Training: A Journey of Transformation

Imagine having a service dog that adapts flawlessly to your needs and surroundings. That's the goal we work towards as we venture into a diverse array of real-world scenarios. From navigating downtowns first and stores, to bustling airports like in South Bend, to enjoying cultural experiences in Chicago or other regions, I tailor your dog's service training to match your daily adventures and goals you wish to grasp through having a service dog in your life. This comprehensive approach not only ensures the dog's effectiveness but also enriches your life with newfound independence and freedom.

Breed Diversity: Finding the Perfect Match

One size doesn't fit all when it comes to service dogs. Temperament and energy levels must align with the handler's unique requirements. For instance, I've successfully trained teenagers with autism and seniors in assisted living. Each scenario demands a tailored approach, recognizing that the temperament and energy of the dog must harmonize with the handler's capabilities and preferences.

Personalized Training: A Collaborative Journey

The essence of my service is collaboration. Together, we mold your dog into an exceptional service companion through hands-on, immersive training. The size of the dog is a consideration based on your unique abilities. By fine-tuning your canine partner's responses to real-life distractions, we create a bond of trust that's rooted in effective communication and mutual understanding.

Realistic Expectations: Navigating Challenges

It's vital to recognize that not every dog will meet your expectations. For instance, I've started packages with dogs with the intent of training them as service dogs, only to find that certain households weren't keeping up the training - or too much inconsistency - or even that the dog was not suited for service work a few weeks in due to energy level, lack of focus, or behavior challenges. Also, not every dog enjoys service work and can be reliable for it. This is why my program requires 1 year of training. Achieving consistent and effective alerting behavior requires a thorough understanding of your dog's capabilities, which is not always practical to self-train on one's own without experience.

This is especially important in scenarios like guiding a dog to provide Deep Pressure Therapy during an autism spectrum disorder meltdown. It's this level of complexity that underscores the importance of holding dog trainers accountable to have educational requirements. No exam or trade-school like requirements exist, or license - not even a G.E.D. is required for anyone to label themselves a dog trainer. This is scary. Even in the realm of self-trained service dogs - in my personal opinion. There is no legal standard or trainer program required to help you train, but I continue my lifelong academic pursuits and learning on my own to best help you. I am already multi-certified and accredited far above the average dog trainer in my country pursues, which is why I primarily focus on this particular specialty. There is a need and a demand to help those seeking service dogs. I have repeatedly demonstrated proven successful results in this field doing this practice since 2015.

The Journey Forward: Guided Progress

As you begin the journey of training your own dog to be a service dog, I begin every client relationship with a small introductory package. Following the 4-lesson package, I assess your dog's aptitude to determine their suitability for further training in my service dog program. It's essential to approach this process with realistic expectations of yourself and your dog, taking into account the dynamics of your home and lifestyle.

Empowerment through Choice: Your Journey Awaits

In conclusion, the choice to self-train a service dog is within your grasp, and I'm here to guide you every step of the way to make sure your dog is actually effective when you need him/her most. By customizing training sessions to mirror your daily life and goals, we cultivate a partnership that empowers you with newfound freedom and confidence. Together, we defy breed stereotypes and embrace the incredible diversity that service dogs can embody.

Thank you for joining me on this enlightening journey of selecting and training the perfect service dog in this blog. Stay tuned for more insights into the remarkable world of service dogs and their transformative impact.

Pictured below is me and one of my service dog clients at Disney World May 2023.

I had the pleasure of flying with them and this pup on 4 airplanes and stayed at Disney's Animal Kingdom, appropriately. I went with to assist them with handling their dog -only if need - in Florida on their first trip with their service dog. They completed 1 year of my service dog training before we went. It was such a wonderful experience, and they did excellent!

Happy Friday,

Lisa The Traveling Dog Trainer LLC

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