Updated: Apr 25
A common inquiry I get is if I offer service dog training and if I can train dogs to be "emotional support service animals". There are a lot of misconceptions about what the difference is and what certification will guarantee your dog will be allowed to bring your dog into various public establishments. The short answer is yes, I do offer service dog training, but there is a lot to understand beforehand, and not every dog is suitable to be a working animal. We will always need to begin with a 90-minute consultation (contact me to receive a brochure with booking links and current pricing and policies) to discuss your goals and for me to assess your dog's temperament and learning style. Hopefully, the information below will be helpful! Service dog training can be a very long process which sometimes takes up to 2 years depending on the types of tasks your dog needs to learn. Your dog will then need to pass the ADI Public Access Test in order to be a designated service animal. You can read all about the criteria for qualifying as a service animal here.
If you are interested in training a service dog and I am part of the process, it is best to contact me before procuring a dog so that I can help you select a candidate who is suited to become a capable service dog and increase your chances of success. If you are interested in training a dog you already own, I will need to assess your dog at your initial consultation and determine if they are a candidate for service work, and discuss your goals and training plan together.
Please note: Emotional Support Animals (ESAs) do not qualify as service animals and do not require specialized training. There is not an official certification other than a written letter from a qualified mental healthcare provider saying that a pet can benefit your mental health. An ESA allows you to bypass breed restrictions, weight limits, and pet deposits when renting from a publicly advertised management company; this does not apply to private landlords. Airlines also are no longer required to allow ESAs, although they may allow some smaller dogs to travel as "pets" in-cabin depending on the airline. There is also no certification that will guarantee any public establishment will allow an ESA to accompany you. Despite not requiring training for mental/emotional health support tasks, if our pets are struggling with behavior issues, t
hey can unintentionally add stress to our lives. Training any companion animal and ensuring they are happy and healthy is important to owning a pet and should be a priority whether or not our pets are intended for any working role. If you would like your dog to learn some tasks to help you emotionally, those are goals we can work towards if I determine at your consultation that your dog is a good candidate for performing such tasks. Washington tenant laws regarding ESAs and service animal accomodation: https://tenantsunion.org/pdf/Assistance_and_Service_Animals_for_Tenants_Who_are_Persons_with_Disabilities.pdf More information about ESAs and service animals: http://adata.org/guide/service-animals-and-emotional-support-animals