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What Is the Cost of Training a Service Dog? 2024 Price Update

Jordyn Alger

By Jordyn Alger

man with disability with his service dog

Service dogs play an essential role in supporting those with disabilities or severe mental illnesses. They are more than just pets; they are well-trained companions that perform necessary daily tasks for their owners. Some common reasons a service dog may be employed include supporting people with epilepsy or diabetes.

When training a service dog, the process can be expensive. A professional dog trainer can cost from $150 to $250 per hour and the whole process may take 4 – 6 months. You may not have expected additional costs, so if you want to learn more about those, keep reading.

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The Importance of Training a Service Dog

Although the ADA does not officially mandate that service dogs be professionally trained, that is not an indication that training a service dog is not important. In fact, without proper training, no animal can perform the supportive tasks that would make them a service animal.  Instead, this flexibility from the ADA is given so that individuals needing a service dog have the right to train their dog on their own.

If a service dog is going to be successful, it must be well-trained. Service dog candidates should embody the following qualities:

  • Reliability when it comes to performing their expected tasks
  • Calmness and poise, particularly in unfamiliar or stressful situations
  • Eagerness to please
  • Vigilance without unnecessary reaction
  • Ability to retain new information
  • Willingness to be socialized in many situations and environments

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How Much Does Training a Service Dog Cost?

service dog training
Image Credit: SasaStock, Shutterstock

The cost of training a service dog can vary depending on a few factors. For instance, how much obedience has your service dog candidate already learned? Which tasks will your service dog need to learn? These two questions can determine how much training your service dog candidate will need to perform the tasks required.

For some context, dogs with prior obedience training can require 4–6 months of frequent training to learn a service task, but this time frame can vary greatly depending on the job. Furthermore, dogs need to be trained to perform their functions in unfamiliar public settings, which can take a lot of time. Service dog candidates will take a public access test to determine whether or not they are ready to carry out their duties. It can take 2 years for a service dog candidate to be certified for public work.

The price for hiring a professional dog trainer can start at $150–$250 per hour. When you consider how much time could be spent on this endeavor, the process can quickly escalate into the thousands.

How Much Does an Already Trained Service Dog Cost?

Training a dog to be a service animal is an expensive and involved process. When you think about the money and time invested in having your service dog candidate fully trained and certified, looking for an already-trained service dog to purchase can be tempting.

Unfortunately, the cost of a fully trained service animal is even higher than the cost of training a dog to be a service animal. However, you will not need to invest as much time. Fully trained service dogs often come from a breeder that breeds dogs specifically for servicing those in need. These dogs will likely have started their training as puppies so they can master the skills needed from a service animal early on.

Essentially, you are purchasing more than just a dog when you buy a fully-trained service dog. You are paying for the breeding, the raising, the care, and the training of this animal. That is why most service animals are priced at $25,000 or more.

Australian cattle dog sold by breeder to new owner
Image Credit: kukurund, Shutterstock

Additional Costs to Anticipate

Beyond the everyday expenses that go into caring for any dog (food, toys, etc.), there are some additional expenses that you may want to consider once you get a service dog. Particularly, you will want to consider various types of insurance in the event of unforeseen catastrophes.

Service Dog Liability Insurance

Although a well-trained service animal should be unlikely to harm anyone or damage property, liability insurance is vital if it were to occur. Should any lawsuit be filed against you, liability insurance could help cover the expenses.

pet insurance care concept
Image Credit: Rawpixel.com, Shutterstock

Service Dog Life Insurance

In the unfortunate event that your service dog passes away, replacing its vital role in your life is not going to be cheap. If you have life insurance on your service dog, you can minimize some of the costs of training or purchasing a new service dog.

Pet Insurance

Keeping your dog in good health is important, especially when your animal is a service animal. Pet insurance will provide financial support if your dog suffers any injury or illness.

handing out insurance documents
Image Credit: RODNAE Productions, Pexels

Common Service Dog Tasks

Service dogs can provide various necessary services for people with disabilities or other conditions. Although they can be trained for all sorts of tasks, there are some general services that service dogs are more commonly trained for.

  • Guiding visually impaired people
  • Listening on behalf of deaf people
  • Supporting people with panic attacks, depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Offering mobility assistance
  • Responding to signals of an oncoming seizure or other health condition

Does Insurance Cover Training a Service Dog?

Unfortunately, insurance does not provide coverage for service dog training. Some expenses related to your service dog can be deducted from your taxes to help you manage the cost, but the bulk of the expenses are still yours to handle.

There are some ways for you to receive support in your efforts. Employer payment plans may allow you to use your pre-tax income to pay off some of the expenses related to your service dog. Likewise, the Assistance Dog Special Allowance Program (ADSA) may offer you a monthly payment to help you manage the costs of caring for your service dog, although it may not be much help for training.

woman training a service dog
Image Credit: Pearl PhotoPix, Shutterstock

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Final Thoughts

Service dogs are instrumental to the daily lives of thousands of people in the United States. They are more than just pets; they are well-trained companions with the sole focus of helping their humans. Training a service dog is an expensive endeavor, but it is well worth it for the support that they can provide.


Featured Image Credit: 24K_Production, Shutterstock

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