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Things to Consider Before Getting a Service Dog

John M Dec 12, 2019
Service dogs can really help the lives of people living with various medical conditions, but there are some important considerations to take into account before going down this route.

It’s estimated that there are approximately 500,000 service dogs in the USA alone.

They can significantly improve the day to day living for individuals who suffer from a variety of different medical conditions.

What Are Service Dogs?

Service dogs are specifically trained to assist individuals who have certain medical conditions and disabilities.

People who suffer from visual or hearing impairments, mobility issues or chronic illnesses are just a few examples of individuals who may be a suitable candidate to own a service dog.

In the USA, the Americans with Disabilities Act permits service dogs to accompany their owners wherever they need to go.

They play a hugely important role in the day to day life of their owner, assisting them to do things that may not be possible on their own such as crossing a road or carrying items.

Who Might Need a Service Dog?

Service dogs will be trained to help specific individuals. Different tasks will be required depending on the medical condition of the dog’s owner, so the dog must have a suitable skillset to help the person in need.

For example, dogs that help individuals with hearing or visual impairments will need to be capable of guiding their owner and helping them to walk around safely.

They are trained to compensate for the owner’s inability to hear or see, allowing them to fulfil day-to-day tasks that would be impossible without assistance.

For individuals with mobility issues as a result of paralysis or from chronic, debilitating conditions such as ALS, a service dog will typically assist in a different way.

These individuals will likely be able to rely on their own ability to see and hear things, but will require help to compensate for their reduced mobility.


In these instances, a service dog can retrieve items dropped by their owner, open and close doors on behalf of them and provide balance support, among many other things.

According to alstreatment.com, a condition such as ALS will pose many challenges for the diagnosed individual.

As their condition worsens, they’ll find it more difficult to walk and even pick up objects. Having a companion can also ease stress levels in people suffering from such conditions, so it’s not hard to see why a service dog is a popular choice.

Things to Consider Before Getting a Service Dog

If you or a loved one are considering getting a service dog, there are a few key things that should be considered first.


In some cases, individuals can get a service dog in the USA for free, if they meet certain criteria. But this is not always the case.

Paying for a service dog could cost anywhere between $800 and $3,000. Whether or not you have to pay for the dog initially, there will still be many other costs associated with owning a service dog.

It’s estimated that it costs between $1,500 and $2,000 each year just to look after a dog of this type.

Food, healthcare and insurance are just some of the on going expenses that need to be considered.

Other Pets

Service dogs are highly trained and of course they will be very obedient – much more so than a regular pet.

That being said, it is recommended that service dogs are the only pet in a given household. This is worth noting if you already have another pet.

Not The Same as Regular Pets

The role of a service dog is clear - to assist the owner at all times. This idea can be quite hard to get used to, especially for children. They may want to stroke and play with the dog or give them treats, just like they would with another animal.

It’s important to let people know that a service dog should not be treated like a regular pet in this respect.

Taking Care

Whilst the role of a service dog is to take care of its owner, the service dog also needs to be taken care of.

If the owner of a service dog will be unable to feed them and clean up after them, then another solution needs to be considered.

Life Changing Companion

Anyone who has a pet will tell you how much they can improve your life. But this is even truer for service pets.

Not only do they provide a familiar face and companionship, service dogs can significantly improve the day-to-day living of people who are suffering from a form of disability.

Without their help, performing many regular tasks would be impossible.