How Much Does a Service Animal Cost?

Trainer and acquisition fees may range from no cost to thousands of dollars. Each service animal trainer or training program sets their own fees. 

Some people choose to look for sponsorship for their service animal from local organizations such as businesses, churches, and civic groups. By helping sponsor a service animal, local organizations give back to their community, much like sponsoring a youth sports team. 

The Assistance Dog United Campaign (ADUC) (USA) raises funds in support of the assistance dog community. ADUC accepts voucher applications for new assistance dog partnerships. Vouchers are issued once a year and the decision of to whom to give the vouchers is based on disability and financial needs.

How are Nonprofits Funded?

Many nonprofit organisations do not receive any government funding and rely on the support of fundraising events and donations from service clubs, corporations, foundations and individuals.

All Service Dogs (including training and accommodation at organisational headquarters) are provided at no cost to qualified applicants.

It costs approximately $20,000-30,000 to train and provide a Service Dog. To offset part of this cost, nonprofit organisations often seek sponsors for each Service Dog. 

How are Service Dogs Trained?

The Community play an important part in the training of these special pups. Service Dog Organisations either breed, purchase or have suitable puppies donated to them. At 10 weeks puppies are placed with foster puppy parents/families or suitable facilities (e.g. Pups in Prison Programs) for a period of 12-18 months socializing & basic training when they then return to organisational headquarters for specialized training.

After a dog completes the 6-8 month training program, dogs are matched with suitable applicants from the organisation's waiting list. The successful applicant either stays at the nonprofit’s training facility or, are trained in their own homes for 2-4 weeks - depending on the program - to work with the dog and establish the bond that's necessary for the Team (dog & recipient) to succeed.

After graduation, follow-up visits and communication between the graduate and the training staff is maintained to ensure on-going success.

An accredited Working Dog is permitted in all public places. The dogs have been trained to travel on all forms of public transportation.

The Working Dog’s attention must be on its handler at all times therefore people are not permitted to pet a Working Dog while it is in harness.

Can you get a  Grant to Train a Service Dog?  

Non-profit groups that work to raise, train and place service dogs can receive grants from the government, private companies, trusts and foundations as well as various nonprofit groups in the form of cash, tribute programs, events and sometimes donations of products.

The key to receiving grant money is to know your own organization in detail and the type of grant you are looking for.

Check out the Grant section of this website. Also check out the Fundraising Section for great ideas to raise money to help train service dogs.

How Can I Help to Raise Money to Help Train More Service Dogs?

The best way to raise money for any charity will depend on resources available and its supporter base. It’s helpful to think about the different options available and how they could benefit your chosen charity. Some things to think about might be:
  • How much money is needed?
  • Is the purpose just to raise money or is it also to raise awareness?
  • What resources are available to support the fundraising?
  • What is the timescale?

For further information on a range of fundraising issues and techniques to raise money and awareness see section on this website on fundraising.

Can I Train my Own Dog to be a Service Animal?

One of the big challenges for people training service dogs is getting the dog adequately trained for public access. Not all dogs have the temperament to handle the stress of working in public. Remember that you must meet the ADA definition of having a "disability" and, to be considered a service dog, your dog must be trained to perform tasks directly related to your disability.

The Minimum Standards for Service Dogs documents the recommended characteristics and minimum set of skills required of all service dogs. The Minimum Standards also address the health and safety of the public, handler, and dog.

Refer to Delta (USA) Directory of Service Animal Trainers and Training Programs and look under Services Provided for "Train Handler." These trainers and programs will help you train your own dog to be a service dog, if it is appropriate. Trainers and programs that do not list this service will not train your own dog.

Teamwork, A Dog Training Manual for People with Physical DisabilitiesBook One: Basic Obedience and Teamwork II, A Dog Training Manual for People with Physical Disabilities (Service Exercises) (both available from Dogwise.com) are books written for people with disabilities to teach them to train their own dog to perform service dog mobility skills. You may also contact Dogwise.com directly.

  • Teamwork, Book One teaches basic commands such as down, down stay, wait and leave it. 
  • Teamwork II goes into skills such as retrieve, under, brace, light pull, etc. 
Assistance Dogs International (ADI) has developed a Public Access Test that reflects what they feel a service dog team should know to be safe in public.

How do I become a Service Dog Trainer?

If you are looking for training to be a service dog trainer, you might consider the following resources:

Assistance Dog Institute in Santa Rosa, CA. They have classes to become an assistance dog trainer. (Some people use the term "service dogs" and others use the term "assistance dog".) ADI grants Associate of Science & Masters of Science degrees in Assistance Dog Education. Contact:

W: www.assistancedog.org
E: info@assistancedog.org

East Coast Assistance Dogs operates a state-of-the art training facility in partnership with The Children’s Village of Dobbs Ferry, NY, where regularly scheduled Train-the-Trainer programs for adults interested in assistance dog careers take place. Contact:

W: www.ecad1.org
E: ecad1@aol.com

NEADS (National Education of Assistance Dog Services, Inc.) gives one session each per year for learning how to train mobility and hearing service dogs. Contact:

W: www.neads.org
E: neadsdogs@aol.com

Another approach to becoming a service dog trainer is to contact Service Dog Training Organizations, and ask if they have an Apprenticeship Program.

What is the Human-Animal Bond?

Many companion animals have been trained to provide mobility and independence for those in need. There is a very strong bond between humans and animals. The relationship between humans and animals is referred to as Human-Animal Interaction

Research confirms what most of us instinctively know to be true: the presence of animals in people's lives has a significant positive influence on the social, emotional and physical well-being of people. Companion animals can ease loneliness and calm emotions; they can make us laugh and make us feel needed; and they can soothe us in times of illness or hardship. 

You can find out more about the human-animal bond in the Research Section of this website.


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