Service dogs don’t just happen. They are never born service dogs (and if someone tries to sell you a “service dog puppy,” turn on your scam alert). That said, knowing the history of both parents of a litter can guide you in choosing a puppy more likely to be up to the tasks and lifestyle of a working Service Dog.
Whether the service dog prospect is a pup or adult, s/he is assessed initially and age appropriate training begins as early as possible.
While your dog is engaged in such training, s/he is classified as a Service Dog In Training (SDIT). Not all SDITs become Service Dogs. Periodic assessments (including full veterinary checks for structural and health problems) and training are key to knowing whether to continue with the same dog or to determine the SDIT is best suited for working only in the home or becoming a pet. Ongoing assessment is a necessary component of any good training plan. The goal is for the handler and dog team to be ready, willing, and able to work together as necessary to overcome various obstacles of the disabled person.
As stated in the Americans With Disabilities Act, “Service dogs are trained….”
Once a dog is determined to be potentially suitable to be trained as a service dog, training begins in two different areas:
- public access training and
- task training. Tasks are specific to the needs of the disabled person, so task training and assessment is too.
Sometimes they occur simultaneously and sometimes public access training begins well before task training and they are simultaneous later. Public access training always begins immediately.
Public access training is fairly consistent for all service dogs. They are administered a Public Access Test (PAT). This is because a service dog must be safe and comfortable in a variety of situations and understand what is expected of them while they are working in and around the general public.
Before Service Dog Mentors issues a certificate to any team, we administer the PAT along with task testing specific to the team. We also usually administer a trial run public access test sometime toward the beginning of training in order to ascertain the necessary focus for that team’s public access training.
What’s Included in the Public Access Test?
This webinar recording provides an overview of what to expect during your public access test. As always, contact us for more information.