PDPM > About Service Dogs > Owner Training Service Dogs
Traditionally, it is assumed that all service dogs are trained in accordance with a very consistent regiment, across the board; the popular assumption is that all fully trained service dogs are acquired, by their handlers, from accredited service dog programs or professional trainers. In some parts of the world, that is true. Fortunately, in the United States, federal law provides a greater degree of latitude in regard to training standards, than most other countries. This presents people with disabilities an opportunity that is as invaluable as it is unique. Not only are we capable of doing so, but we are legally afforded the right to train our own service dogs. We refer to this as, “owner training.”
Owner training differs from other avenues of acquiring a fully trained service dog, in that the person with the disability is highly involved in all aspects of training, completing the process which graduates a dog from “in-training” status to a fully trained service dog. Any type of service dog can be owner trained.
An owner trainer (i.e. the person with a disability who is training his or her own service dog) has goals that are consistent with those of professional service dog trainers and service dog schools that train dogs for others: Producing a dog who is highly socialized, behaves appropriately in public and is individually trained to mitigate his or her handler’s disability, by performing tasks, work or a combination of the two.
The Americans with Disabilities act protects people with disabilities, who have trained their own service dogs, against discrimination, in the exact same manner a person who has acquired a service dog from a professional trainer or accredited service dog organization, would be protected. In fact, this law makes no distinction whatsoever. Provided the handler has a disability and the dog meets the criteria the ADA uses to define a service animal, the individual is afforded the same protection, under federal law.
These two photos are of Bradley, who is an owner trained service dog. The photo to the left was taken when he was about five months old, during some early training. The photo to the right was taken, in the same book store, almost four years later, when he was a fully trained service dog.
More to come about Owner Training Service Dogs!