No products in the cart.

News

13 Questions To Ask Before Buying A Service Dog

Our goal at Open Range Pups is to provide each individual with the knowledge to become confident in their decision to:

  1. Pick a dog that is appropriate for service work;
  2. Have the confidence to train and maintain their service dog;
  3. Feel confident in their dogs’ ability to perform at home and in public.

We understand the excitement and anticipation that comes from searching out your new service dog. In this article, our goal is to help you have confidence during the dog acquisition process. The questions we will answer in this article will help you make informed and confident decisions during your search for a service dog.

Service Dog Training Scams, Are They Real?

Unfortunately, the world of canine training is full of shady characters. Just like dog breeders, the world of canine training is unregulated. These seven questions that we will address will assist you in avoiding scams and subpar quality dogs and trainers.

Here are a few articles that have come out in just the last few months:

Company sold $25,000 ‘service dogs’ that were really just. . .

Service Animal Scams: A Growing Problem – Psychology Today

Company offering trained diabetic service dogs called scam in lawsuit by. . .

Should My Service Dog Be Health Tested?

ASK THESE HEALTH QUESTIONS:

“Are your dogs (parents of puppies) tested for hip and elbow dysplasia? What testing method was used? PENNHIP, OFA, E-VET, etc.”

“Do the parents have genetic test panels? How can I view the results?”

“Do you offer a health guarantee, genetic or otherwise?”

Why is health testing important? The answer is simple, whether you adopt a dog or pay $50,000 for your service pup, you MUST be able to rely on that dog. PERIOD.

What happens when your new pup develops hip dysplasia, a heart arrhythmia, or any other number of life threatening conditions that may exist with the pup. Genetic testing panels can show many of the most prominent genetically inherited dispositions that the parents can pass on to their offspring. Hip and elbow testing panels can give a very good indication of the parents joint health. This testing helps breeders and trainers determine the chances of your dog or pup inheriting the same debilitating conditions.

How you would feel if your service dog becomes lame after a year of intensive training? At Open Range Pups we take pride in our breeding program because we know the physical and emotional attachment that a puppies family will have with it. With a service dog, the family is requiring much more than affection, they require a reliable partner. This fact should not be taken lightly!

Its obvious to us that if you are paying out of pocket, and even most non-profits cost at least $14,000, then you should require some guarantees about your puppies health.

At Open Range Pups our puppies and service dogs come with a 4 Year Genetic Health Guarantee. Put simply, we have so much confidence in our breeding program we guarantee your puppy will not inherit a genetic condition that becomes breeders’ or debilitating. If, in the small chance (we do not have control over life development), a condition does become known in the pups first 4 years than we will replace the pup. 4 years in a pups life could be anywhere from 1/3 to 1/2 of its life-span, that is a long time to allow for a problem to show up.

Other programs and breeders may offer something similar. Here are some additional terms to be wary of:

“We ensure your puppy will be healthy.” What does this mean? What is your interpretation of “healthy”? What is the breeders solution if the puppy is not “healthy”?

“1 Year Health Guarantee is included.” Again what is the breeders’ interpretation of this Guarantee? In our opinion, a 1 Year Health Guarantee is NOT sufficient. Even though a severe (life-threatening) case of hip dysplasia may develop in the first few months, severe-moderate (mobility limiting) hip dysplasia will most likely be noticed after 1 year of age. Other genetically inherited conditions, like Von Willebrand, may not show up until the most inconvenient times during a young dogs life.

Read more about Open Ranges’ Health Guarantee Here – Sheepadoodle / Goldendoodle Health Guarantee

How Can You Verify Service Training?

When we decided to open our service dog program up to the public on a larger scale we wanted to measure ourselves against the most scrutinized training organizations in the US, non-profits. Non-profit training organizations are extremely thorough with their training and record keeping regimen.

They must be so thorough because their clients are often severely disabled and because they must prove results to their donor base. Training a dog as a blind-seeing-eye-dog is no small feet. If the dogs’ qualities and training are even slightly below par, it may put the owners life in dangerous situations.

ASK THESE QUESTIONS:

“Do you have a record of the dogs training?”

If the dog is going to be trained for you, ask, “How will you record the training sessions?”

“How can I obtain a copy of the training records?”

The only reasonable way to verify training is to verify training records, if any are kept.

Open Range Pups provides you with many levels of verification:

  • Progress Management – daily, weekly, and monthly task progress
  • Milestone Tracking – recieve report cards that help keep you up to date with training milestones
  • Activity Tracker – Follow along each day with your pups integrated phone app; see when he/she is working, who they are working with, the tasks they are working on, and more

Learn more about Open Ranges’ unique Service Training Puppy Portal Here

Third Party Testing, Is It Necessary?

More and more, service training companies and individuals are creating their own sets of rules. They develop programs, “certificates”, and other awards to claim their service and dogs are meeting standards. But whose standards are they meeting? Their own?

These certificate and diploma programs are not based on community approved standards or minimums. So the answer is simple:

YES! Every dog placed in service should be tested by a third party routinely throughout its’ training.

ASK THESE QUESTIONS:

“What standards do you test to?” “AKC, CKC, IAADP (International Association of Assistance Dog Partners), or other?”

It is not just important to understand if a company does third party testing, but also: what test is being administered, who is doing the testing, and who is the certifying part?

Open Range performs 3rd party testing during it’s First Phase (Canine Good Citizen – AKC) and its Second Phase (Urban Canine Good Citizen – AKC – this test is the equivalent to the IAADP Public Access Test).

During the 3rd Phase, Open Range trains for specific modules (PTSD, Autism Support, Seizure Support, etc). Since there are no uniform testing standards for these objectives, Open Range creates a list of minimum behavioral and skill tasks to be completed by the end of the 3rd Phase of training. These skills and demonstrations are recorded weekly to show progress and improvements. At the end of the 3rd Phase Open Range will record live a “demonstration of skill” test. This test can be performed with a 3rd party trainer.

How Do You Know Which Dog Is Right For The Job?

This is an in-depth, complicated question. The short answer is that a good candidate for a service dog should have a balance of the “appropriate” (case specific) demeanor and intellect.

Here is the long answer – Service Dog Types and How To Choose

Picking a service dog is quite possibly the most important part before starting a service training program. Unfortunately there is no clear, “this dog is the best,” answer. Each dog should be considered case specific to the needs of the individual. A good trainer or breeder will not sell or suggest a dog just because they are available.

How can you make a smart choice? Speak with an experienced “Service Dog Trainer.” Not just any obedience trainer. They should ask intelligent questions about your needs and conditions. A trainer should offer advice as to what behavioral attributes a dog should have that fits your needs.

If a trainer is pushing a specific dog, just because it is available, although the dog “may” be good for you; be sure and get a second opinion.

ASK THESE QUESTIONS:

Really with this part of your search it should be the trainer who is asking questions. It is your duty to pay attention and make sure the DOES ask questions and makes recommendations. If a trainer seems to have tunnel vision toward one dog, or from dogs within their kennel, although the dog “may” be good for you; be sure and get a second opinion.

How Much Should A Service Dog Cost?

A service dog should cost whatever is appropriate for the training desired. Open Range developed its’ training costs based on all of the components of training: trainer/handler time, facility costs/overhead, boarding, travel, food, etc.

Here is a snippet from one of our service dog articles:

It is unfortunate, but also a simple fact of life, that non-profits will cater to those with the greatest needs and often with minimal or non-existent financial resources. Waiting lists at most non-profits will range from 2-5 years. Most times facilities will require an average of 30%-50% of costs be covered by the new parent ($17,000 should be expected).

So who does the Service Dog industry cater to? People with little income but still enough to cover $17,000, people with severe physical, emotional, or physiological needs, and those willing to wait many years.

Industry Service Dog trainers (especially good trainers) require high hourly training rates. Just FYI, open group training platforms are NOT a recommended training platform for service oriented dogs. Many home training videos that specialize in different service dog models cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars to purchase or participate in.

How does Open Range provide service in an industry that is un-regulated, have varing levels of quality, is filled with strong opionions that have nothing to do with the happiness or value to the custome, and an industry where costs range from free to $60,000+ for service?

Read More Here

So the question we asked is; “If non-profits produced studies that show the average “true” cost of a completed service dog is around $45k, how are some doing it for so much less, what should our model be?”

To answer the first question; trainers who train for less may fall in two categories, they are training sub-par or not at all or they train just a few dogs yearly out of their home.

We understand the obstacles of finances when it comes to training a service dog. We also understand the costs of man hours, facilities, and liability from the trainers point of view.

In summary, it’s not about the cost per-se, it’s about the quality of the result. You may be best served to ask all of the questions in this article when searching for a service dog. This list of questions should help you weed out “so-so” trainers from the rest of the pack so that you can make an informed and confident decision.

Open Range has developed a series of modulized training performed with Open Range trainers and home based training to offer options to people from all manner of financial scenarios.

Read More Here

ASK THESE QUESTIONS:

Every question in this article is important when assessing the cost and value of a service. Read thoroughly, ask smart and informed questions, make a confident decision.

Is There Financial Aid For Service Dogs?

Yes! Most aid and assistance is available from non-profits. It comes in the form of trained dogs. You generally have to contribute 30%-50% of the costs of training to the program before training begins.

There are few no-cost programs available and the only one that seems consistent is Healing For Hero’s. This program is for US Veterans. If you are a veteran feel free to reach out to Open Range with questions or assistance, we do have a volunteer Healing For Hero’s trainer available to us who understands the program very well.

There are additional non-profits resources and other financial aid resources available on our Open Range Service Dog Financing Page.

One last resource Open Range is testing for 2019 is a pseudo fundraising program utilizing the commissions from PawTree pet food sales to support the financial needs of those in need of a service dog.

Read more about the Open Range PawTree program HERE.

Summary: Questions To Ask Breeders and Trainers?

Is This A Scam?

Answer this question by being informed, read the article resources in this post, and know what to look for.

Should My Service Dog Be Health Tested?

The answer is simple, whether you adopt a dog or pay $50,000 for your service pup, you MUST be able to rely on that dog. PERIOD.

ASK THESE HEALTH QUESTIONS:

“Are your dogs (parents of puppies) tested for hip and elbow dysplasia? What testing method was used? PENNHIP, OFA, E-VET, etc.”

“Do the parents have genetic test panels? How can I view the results?”

“Do you offer a health guarantee, genetic or otherwise?”

How Can I Verify Service Training?

ASK THESE QUESTIONS:

“Do you have a record of the dogs training?”

If the dog is going to be trained for you, ask, “How will you record the training sessions?”

“How can I obtain a copy of the training records?”

The only reasonable way to verify training is to verify training records, if any are kept.

Is Third Party Testing Necessary?

ASK THESE QUESTIONS:

“What standards do you test to?” “AKC, CKC, IAADP (International Association of Assistance Dog Partners), or other?”

It is not just important to understand if a company does third party testing, but also: what test is being administered, who is doing the testing, and who is the certifying part?

Which Dog Is Right For You?

Really with this part of your search it should be the trainer who is asking questions. It is your duty to pay attention and make sure the DOES ask questions and makes recommendations. If a trainer seems to have tunnel vision toward one dog, or from dogs within their kennel, although the dog “may” be good for you; be sure and get a second opinion.

How Much Should A Service Dog Cost?

Every question in this article is important when assessing the cost and value of a service. Read thoroughly, ask smart and informed questions, make a confident decision.

Use the resources to search your options for financial assistance.

0

Jason Scott


Leave a Reply