Service Dog Trainers Colorado Springs
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Service Dog Trainers Colorado Springs

  • October 14, 2021

Service DogsCan you train my dog to be a Service Dog? Seems that in the past few months every other call we receive is: “I just adopted a dog and I want to make him/her my service dog. Often times a Service Dog is a lifeline for a disabled person, who wouldn’t be able to function without said Service Dog. If a dog is an obvious Service Dog (such as a seeing eye dog), their presence in public may not be challenged. So adopting a rescue dog and expecting them to become your Service Dog with a couple of training classes is not as easy as that sounds.

Service Dogs

Service Dogs

Can you train my dog to be a Service Dog?

This article has been written many times recently and I could just link to any of them and save myself some time. However, as a training professional, ethically, I think it is my duty to be as informed as possible in order to give my clients the correct advice, so I decided to do some research and digging myself. Seems that in the past few months every other call we receive is: “I just adopted a dog and I want to make him/her my service dog. Can you help me?” - or “Do you train service dogs?” Upon further investigation, we usually discover that really what they want is a dog that helps them with some anxiety issues and/or specifically PTSD. Then you have the people who moved in somewhere and they don’t allow pets and they have “heard” or somebody told them that Emotional Support Animals can’t be kicked out. And last but not least are the people who “want to take my dog to the hospital to help the kids.” And this is the crux of the problem - those are literally 3 different things. But the general public either loops them all together or uses the terms interchangeably.

So here is my attempt to clarify and to explain the differences:

©2016 Astrid Tryon, CPDT-KSA


1 - The Service Dog


A service dog is not a pet. Often times a Service Dog is a lifeline for a disabled person, who wouldn’t be able to function without said Service Dog. In that respect you could view a Service Dog as an “assistive device” for that person (some examples are seeing eye dogs, seizure alert dogs and also psychiatric service dogs that alert to an oncoming panic attack). Service dogs are covered by the American with Disabilities Act, which requires a Service Dog to:

 

  1. belong to a person with a life-limiting disablity

  2. be trained to recognizing said disability by doing work or tasks

  3. not cause a disruption in public
     

Through the ADA a Service Dog has access wherever the public is allowed. If a dog is an obvious Service Dog (such as a seeing eye dog), their presence in public may not be challenged. If it is not so obvious that they are Service Dogs, a business owner may ask 2 questions of the handler:

 

  1. Is this dog a service animal because of a disability? and

  2. What work or task has this animal been trained to perform?


So here it is - a Service Dog needs to be trained to perform a certain task for ONE person. The training does not have to be done by a professional, but can be self-taught. As a minimum they need to always be “under control” of their handler and be house trained. A Service Dog is generally trained to ignore other people (as opposed to a therapy dog), because they need to be focused on their handler and their job. That is also the reason why you should not pet a service dog, because a distraction could literally mean life or death for the handler.


Service Dogs “in training” generally are not protected under the ADA, but certain states may have different rules. Because of them having to be housebroken and well-behaved in public, generally, I would only consider a Service Dog to be “in training” when they could pass the Canine Good Citizen test. It is also good to remember that it can take 1-2 years to fully train a Service Dog. That is provided that they have the temperament for it. So adopting a rescue dog and expecting them to become your Service Dog with a couple of training classes is not as easy as that sounds. That is not to say that rescue dogs can’t be Service Dogs.


Contrary to popular belief there is no need for special vests, patches, harnesses, or special id tags. There is also no certification needed. The following statement is taken directly from the ADA website: “There are individuals and organizations that sell service dog animal certifications or registration documents online. These documents do not cover any rights under the ADA and the Department of Justice does not recognize them as proof that the dog is a service animal.”
There is no breed restriction or exemption on a Service Dog and even if you live in an area with Breed Specific Legislation, or in housing that doesn’t allow pets or restricts breeds and/or sizes,  your service dog must be allowed!


2 - The Emotional Support Animal


An ESA is a pet that provides disability relieving emotional support to an individual, but is not necessarily trained to do so. An ESA therefore has no public access rights, but is covered under the Air Carrier Act to be able to fly with their person in the cabin without extra fees, and under the Fair Housing Act to be able to live in housing that normally wouldn’t allow pets. Even in housing that allows pets but charges extra pet deposits and/or rent for animals, you are not required to pay those fees for an ESA. 


Contrary to a Service Animal an airline employee or landlord can ask you for documentation for an ESA. They can NOT ask you what your condition is. Documentation usually consists of a letter on a doctor’s or therapist’s/counselor’s letterhead, stating that this animal is providing disability relieving emotional support and that it is necessary for your well-being and being able to function, that this animal is with you.


Again, no registration, special vests or patches are needed. But the animal needs to be well behaved and potty trained. By the way - an emotional support animal is not restricted to dogs; it could be a cat, a pig or even a miniature horse! There is also no breed restriction or exemption on an ESA and even if you live in an area with Breed Specific Legislation or your housing has breed/size/weight restrictions, your ESA must be allowed.


3 - The Therapy Dog


A Therapy Dog is a pet that is trained to interact with many people other than their handler to make those people feel better. Examples are dogs that visit nursing homes and hospitals; dogs that go to court to sit with minors or other traumatized witnesses while they give testimony; dogs that go to the library, so that kids can read to them.


A Therapy Dog does not have public access rights and is only allowed in certain places by prior arrangement.


There is no required registration or certification for Therapy Dogs, however, most places you will want to visit with your Therapy Dog will want you and your dog to be registered or certified by one organization or another, mainly for insurance purposes. At minimum they will require you to have a Canine Good Citizen Test. There are several Therapy Dog Registries with different requirements. (Examples for those are Therapy Dogs International, Pet Partners or Assistance Dogs International).


There is also no breed restriction on a Therapy Dog, however, since they don’t enjoy public access rights, you are not protected in areas of Breed-Specific-Legislation and if the institution you want to visit decides to put breed restrictions in place, you have to follow the rules.

PTSD Service Dog Training in Colorado Springs. Dog Training Elite

PTSD Service Dog Training in Colorado Springs. Dog Training Elite

PTSD Service Dog Training in Colorado Springs. Dog Training Elite

A Psychiatric/PTSD service animal will be able to go anywhere with their handler and assist them in times of high anxiety and stress. A service dog will provide emotional support, reintegration into society, reduce depression, reduce the frequency and severity of flashbacks, anchor handler to the present, and reduce suicidal ideation. Individuals with PTSD often feel unsafe and unsure of reality, especially in public settings. Service dogs for PTSD can help ground their handler to reality, prevent people from crowding or rushing up to them and provide the emotional support needed to de-escalate anxieties. They can be trained to recognize the signs of a panic attack, wake individuals experiencing night terrors and regulate emotional responses through pressure.

Faithfully K9

Faithfully K9

Faithfully K9

ABOUT USMission Statement: To empower individuals with disabilities to train a dog as their service dog, transforming both of their lives. CathyCathy has been training dogs for many years, most recently training service dogs for Freedom Service Dogs of America for almost 6 years. She trained her own dog Cash to be a therapy dog and visited several locations bringing a smile to many faces. Having graduated over 50 service and therapy dogs, she has acquired many skills dealing with dogs and clients and enjoys sharing her talents. She was recently on a segment of the Dog Bowl on Animal Planet showing her training a dog and highlighting a dog she trained, Rommy, the first Decker's Dog.

Welcome Home

Welcome Home

Welcome Home

A PTSD, psychatric service dog, can help interrupt the automatic reaction whether it be panic, anger, fear, or disassociation. It is about building our confidence in the world that doesn't always understand a disability by having a service dog at our side. I am a highly educated dog trainer that can customize a training plan to help you reach your goals . I use the latest in science-based, reward-based dog training techniques to create a thinking dog, a dog that helps you. As one that has also done therapy dog work for decades now, I see the unconditional love therapy dogs give to those who are in their time of need.

Service Dogs for Military Veterans

Service Dogs for Military Veterans

Service Dogs for Military Veterans

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]If you want to know how service dogs can help military veterans in Colorado Springs, this article is for you. Carmel Veterans Service Center works with several service dog organizations to help provide aid and service Military Veterans in the greater Colorado Springs area. Veteran Service Dog Organizations in Colorado SpringsWe partner with several different organizations in Colorado Springs that provide service dogs to our local Military Veterans. Freedom Service DogsFreedom Service Dogs offers VA service dogs to veterans. Carmel Veterans Service Center provides integrative services and support to military service members, veterans, and their families.

Colorado Cell Dogs — Prison Trained Dog Program ...

Colorado Cell Dogs — Prison Trained Dog Program ...

Colorado Cell Dogs — Prison Trained Dog Program ...

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