This program is designed for shelter or rescue service dogs of varied ages (8 weeks to 7 months old) and unknown genetics. The dog is typically local to me for testing purposes.
We classify service dogs (tested and approved) and rescue service dogs differently. Genetics and temperament can make or break a service dog’s success and significantly impact the completion of a training program. The daily work a service dog faces is intense. A dog that is not mentally sound, will break.
Getting a rescue service dog means, the breed lines of the dog are unknown. You don't know the background or genetics. It boils down to luck if the dog can make it through a service dog training program and work in that capacity afterward. My own PTSD service dog came from the shelter and Lola turned out great. But it wasn’t easy because of the behavioral and emotional "baggage" she came with. I don't mean to discourage, but I want you to go into the process of training a rescue service dog with open eyes. You must accept that even if your dog tests successfully initially and does well in training, the chances of your rescue service dog "washing out"—the dog fails during training because it can't handle the tasking or stress—are higher.
With that being said, there are no guarantees of success with a purpose-bred service dog puppy either, should you choose to go through a breeder. You are just increasing your chances of success. In addition, not all breeders are created equal. Do your research and let us help if you want to pursue a Puppy Service Dog instead.
Picking a Rescue Service Dog
When people select dogs at shelters, they tend to go by what is visually appealing. It is rare to find the person tested the dog for service dog fitness, to become their service dog later. For example, the task requirements can include a rescue service dog puppy to become a certain size. If you don’t know the breed of the dog, it is a gamble if your rescue puppy will grow into those task requirements. Also, many shelter dogs have a colorful past. It is imperative to address these issues before any service dog training starts.
Increase Your Chances for Success
You can increase your chances of success with a rescue service dog by keeping the following in mind:
- If selecting from a rescue using foster homes, check multiple of their dogs and talk to the fosters. Since the dog is coming from a ‘"home environment", you will have a better idea of what to expect behaviorally.
- Most shelters represent high volume, chaos, lots of people, lack of play areas, and so on. Given that environment, it is next to impossible to get an accurate idea of, if the dog is good with other dogs, people and how it will handle change. This can put public safety at risk later on if you end up with a psychologically unstable dog and notice it too late. Talk to the shelter, let them know what you are looking for. They may be able to point out more stable dogs, improving your odds for your rescue service dog pick.
- If you are determined on adopting a dog from a shelter instead of a rescue, find a service dog trainer to come with you and help pick the best dog for the taskings ahead.
- Once you find a dog in the shelter you like, visit the dog a few times before adopting. Avoid being impulsive with your choice.
Other Rescue Service Dog Considerations
If the rescue dog you choose doesn’t work out in training, it is your obligation to remove the dog from the training program. Be mentally prepared to have a great pet instead of a service dog.
When looking at shelter dogs, take the listed breed with a grain of salt. My own rescue service dog's breed was listed as "Lab mix". I later tested her DNA and there is no Labrador in her at all. Btw, I personally recommend EmBarkVet.com for DNA tests.
Educate yourself on the relevant laws by the American's with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA), so you understand access right and possible breed challenges.
Please select your future rescue service dog wisely, as otherwise, it can easily turn into a disaster. I can’t tell you how many times I have been lunged at by another service dog.
Based out of Riverside County, we currently offer local Service Dog Training in the following areas: Riverside County, Orange County, San Bernardino County, Los Angeles County and San Diego County. We offer Service Dog board and train and all coaching services nationwide.
Contact Sarah here for scheduling a consultation to discuss how she can help you best.