Loving Veterans To Life

Things to Consider Before Getting a Service Dog

12096342_682888191845716_6313828166587461691_nThings to Consider Before Getting a Service Dog

A service dog can undoubtedly change your life and assist you in more ways than most realize and while they are an incredible resource, they are not the right tool for everyone. There are several things you need to take into consideration before deciding if a service dog is the right battle buddy to journey with you through life.

  1. Am I financially able to take on the costs of caring for a dog for the next 10 to 15 years?
    Service Dogs are living breathing animals that need to eat, be bathed and go to the doctors just like humans. You can expect to spend $1,000+ per year on food, preventative medications, annual visit and shots and some toys. This does not include chews, emergency visits, medications or special diets if your dog should become ill over time. Are you ready and able to take on these costs?
  2. Are you prepared to care or arrange for care for a dog every single day?
    Partnering with a service dog is similar to having a child, they need to go out, be cleaned up after, fed, trained and challenged physically and mentally. There are NO EXCEPTIONS. Your service dog, while trained to assist you must be cared for. Like humans, dogs will have their challenging days and it may not always be the best timing, but no matter what, its your job to have your battle buddies back just as it is their job to have yours daily. Do you have a plan in place should you be unable to care for your battle buddy for any reason, i.e a hospital stay?
  3. Are you prepared to be the center of attention?
    You must ask yourself if the benefits of your service dog will outweigh the often challenging times in public. People will point and stare at you, they will want to pet your dog, ask you questions, make comments, challenge your right to bring your dog with you where you are, interrupt you, stop you in the middle of what you are doing. It can often be frustrating and challenging and while we will provide you with the tools to handle these situations, you must ask yourself if this is something you can handle. Its highly important to know that you are an ambassador for all those with assistance dogs, and that your reaction to any situation must be kind and educational, as most often people simply don’t know.
  4. Are you willing and able to accept the training and socialization obligations?
    You must be willing to provide the practice time, boundaries and training to ensure that your service dog learns the necessary behaviors to be in public and skills to mitigate your disabilities. You must maintain consistency so that there is no backsliding and work hard to develop a deep connection between you and your dog. Dogs aren’t always perfect and you need to remember that your service dog is not a pet, you need to be prepared to parent and train your dog and help teach it through its behaviors and situations.
  5. Are you prepared to deal with conflict?
    Many people still don’t know the rights and laws pertaining to service dogs. You will find yourself challenged at times on admitting your dog somewhere, the things businesses feel are required, the questions they may pose or flat out rejection and discrimination. With the proper training, are you mentally and emotionally prepared to handle these situations in a calm and positive manner?