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How to get a service dog: All questions answered

How to get a service dog: All questions answered

Dogs are truly amazing animals. It’s unbelievable how much emotional support we get from our furry friends. They are compassionate and understanding, and this goes especially for service dogs! They are simply there for you when no one else can! Even though service dogs are great, not many people who need one, know how to get a service dog!

This is why we’ve written a guide if you or someone in your family needs a service dog but don’t know how to get one. At first it might seem like a complicated process, but don’t worry it’s actually pretty straightforward!

What is a service dog?

A service dog or SD for short is a dog specifically trained to perform work for a person with a disability. There are different kinds of disabilities that require a different kind of SD. This is why the steps to getting an SD vary depending on your reason for having an SD.

Like mentioned, there are different types of SDs. They all go through specific training processes to learn different tasks depending on their owner’s physical or mental condition.

Types of service dogs:

  • Guide Dog
  • Mobility Aid Dog
  • Seizure Alert Dog
  • PTSD Service Dog
  • Hearing Alert Dog
  • Diabetes Alert Dog
  • Migraine Alert Dog
  • Narcolepsy Alert Dog
  • Seizure Response Dog
  • Psychiatric Service Dog
  • Narcolepsy Response Dog

SD vs. ESA

Besides SDs, we also have Emotional support animals (ESA). You shouldn’t mix these two up because each of them has unique benefits they can offer an individual.

Service dog and emotional support animal
The differences between service dogs and emotional support animals.

There are several differences between service dogs and emotional support animals. For example, emotional service animals don’t require any specific training whereas service dogs require extensive training. This is because the primary goal of an emotional support animal is well as the name suggests providing emotional support to their owners. Even though an ESA doesn’t require training they still require certification and the owner must present a medically-backed need. Emotional support animals are great for people who have no physical disabilities. For example for people who are struggling with anxiety or depression.

Service animals on the other hand go through an intensive training which can sometimes take years! These trainings go from physical training to mental priming and they are so rigorous because these dogs will essentially be someone’s caretaker.

How to get a service dog?

Now onto the most important question of today’s article, how do you get a service dog? I am not going to lie to you it is a long process that will take time and effort, but in the end, it will be worth it.

1. What is your situation?

I’ve mentioned that there are different kinds of SDs. Well in order to get a service dog your first step will be assessing your own situation. This is how you will know what kind of service dog you need.

Also read: Two Service Dogs Are Bringing Full Time Joy To Sick Children

Getting a service dog is also very expensive, which is another reason to assess if and what kind of SD you need. To do this you can take a look at the ADA in order to determine if your situation equates to needing an SD.

There are set conditions that make someone eligible for a service dog so please always do a thorough research.

Steps on how to get a service dog
Steps to getting a service dog

2. The best breed for you

If you’ve done the above and have determined that you really do need a service dog then you need to decide on a breed. Generally speaking, every dog can be a service dog, however, there are better choices than others. For example, Labrador and Golden retrievers are the most common SD breed. We also have Border Collies and German shepherds who also make great service dogs.

This is a big decision that needs to be made, but don’t worry you don’t have to make it alone. Talk to your doctor and a veterinarian, they will know which breed will be best for your specific condition and help you decide.

3. Who will be your provider?

Even though it is possible for you to train your own SD, it’s usually better to get a service dog from a provider. A service dog provider is an agency that trains service dogs and then puts them up for adoption after training is complete. For this step, you should always look into several providers in order to find the best for you.

4. Supplies

Your SD will be taking care of you, but at the same time you will have to take care of your service dog! To make sure your new friend feels comfortable in his or her new home you’ll need to get some things like:

  • a bed
  • food
  • toys
  • treats
  • leash

Also read: The story of a paralyzed girl and her service dog

5. Get to know each other and become friends!

Your new dog is also your new friend. You will be spending a lot of time together so might as well get to know each other! You need to build trust between each other. Spend a lot of time with your dog, especially in the first days, this will your relationship immensely.

And please never forget, your dog will make mistakes in the beginning, it’s normal. They need time to get adjusted, and the same goes for you too!


Getting an SD is a long and costly process. It can cost you up to 15.000$ to get a service dog! So before you even start this tiring process first make sure that you really need an SD, it might turn out you actually need an ESA. There is a significant difference between those two! If you do determine that you need an SD then the steps mentioned above will help you figure out how to get on sucessfully.

My name is Jackie and I am a veterinarian with a degree in veterinary medicine. With extensive experience in treating various animals, I am known for my compassionate and personalized approach to animal care.