Service dog testing is for people who want to evaluate if a dog they presently own or are considering acquiring could be suitable for service dog work. This service is pretty unique! Google it and see how rare it is. Most service dog trainers only want to work with hand-selected puppies, because it is easier. In contrast, we have the skill, experience, and background to transform any dog that passes the test into a service dog. If your dog is suitable, we can train it for you. As a result, we have a rigorous testing process to evaluate your dog.
The first set of tests we perform are general service dog tests. They assess the general ability of the dog to function as a service dog at home and in public. The second set of tests are service task-specific and vary depending on the service dog tasks you want us to train.
Examples of General Tests:
- Evaluating the dog’s reaction to new noises. Does the dog startle? How does the dog react? How strong is the reaction? And so on. Sound response is an important part of testing.
- Testing recovery from startling noises. How fast does the dog recover? Does the dog require help to recover? And so on.
- Evaluating the dog’s drive. Does the dog lure? Does the dog have persistence? How well does the dog handle frustration? And so on.
- Assessing learning aptitude. How fast does the dog learn? Is the dog interested in figuring things out? And so on. The ability to learn is a very important part of service dog testing.
- Testing problem-solving skills. How well can the dog think? Does the dog investigate alternative options for task completion when running into obstacles? And so on.
Examples of Task-Specific Service Dog Tests:
- Strength: Is the dog strong enough for a potential mobility task?
- Health: Does the overall health or joint health of the dog allow for a specific stability task?
- Scent Detection: Is the dog’s nose working well enough for required alerts? Evaluating this skill is essential in most service dog tests.
- Visual Acuity: Can the dog pick up on required visual cues?
- And so on.
The Overall Process
The way service dog testing works is by bringing your dog to us for one week (Mon-Fri). During this time we will assess your dog to get a good feel for its potential for service work. We will look at the areas outlined above but also assess if we believe it has the psychological strength to work as a service dog long-term. The biggest challenge in general is finding a dog that can handle the stress of working for a disabled person when you need their help the most. Not every dog is cut out for that. At the end of the week, we will write a detailed assessment for you and provide recommendations. Service dog testing weeks presently cost a flat rate of $750. Scheduling assessment weeks is usually possible quickly.
If we feel your dog is suitable, we could straight transition into the training process if we have the capacity for a new service dog candidate at that time and you are ready to move forward. If don’t feel your dog is suitable, we will tell you. We could help with other training goals you may have but it would be disqualified from our program at that point. There is no point in spending significant amounts of time and money on training a dog for service work it ultimately can’t do. Further, it would be very unfair to your dog and we wouldn’t do that. In this case, we would suggest alternatives to get you the service dog you are looking for.
To enroll a dog into a Service Dog Testing week, it must be fully house and crate trained.
Finally, take a look at The Giant List of Service Dog Tasks we train.