Service Dog Training

Woof! San Diego can help you with your dog’s service dog training for mobility or psychiatric work. Our experienced service dog trainers teach service dogs and their handlers the skills needed to work successfully in public settings as a working team. 

How can a dog be a service dog?

To be a service dog, the Americans with Disabilities Act requires that your dog be trained to perform specific assistive tasks that mitigate the symptoms of your disability in public. The dog must also behave in a way that does not disrupt the natural course of business. We call this public access training. The combination of public access training and task training, in addition to an appropriate temperament and the desire to work are some of the qualities and skills that make a great service dog.

Why are service dogs allowed in public?

Service dogs are allowed to work in public places where pet dogs are not allowed because the tasks they perform to help their handler allow the handler to enter and remain in the public place in a way they might not otherwise be able to. Without their dog assisting with these tasks, the individual would have less access to the world around them than a person without a disability. Service dogs have an important job that must be taken very seriously!

Service dog in training sitting next to the Target bullseye dog in a Target store display


Woof! San Diego’s Service Dog Training Philosophy

  • Service dogs must demonstrate fluent, consistent, appropriate behaviors in public.
  • Service dogs are highly skilled. But they are still dogs, and they require supportive handling from their person, guidance in difficult situations, and ongoing training and reinforcement. As the handler for your service dog, you will learn to give your dog clear information about what is expected of them and how to navigate situations that happen while working together in public.
  • Being a service dog is a special job. It’s not right for every dog. Assisting a person in public means the dog must ignore distractions and be frequently exposed to all kinds of stimuli and environments on a regular basis. For some dogs, this can be stressful or scary. We can help dogs overcome some specific fears or difficult distractions, but a dog who shows generalized fear or significant stress in a public environment may be indicating that they do not want to be a working dog. We respect dogs when they tell us the job is not right for them.
  • We use positive reinforcement, force-free training strategies to teach service dogs in our program.
  • We also use these same types of strategies when working with our human clients.

Pricing and structure

Service dog training is available in various arrangements including per-session, small package, or monthly packages. In some cases, we can provide day training or board and train services so your dog can get a jump start on a new behavior with a trainer who will then transfer the skill back to you to practice.