Getting a service dog can be the best thing that you ever do. They can help you to manage your condition and make it easier for you to live your life, both out in public and at home. However, applying for a service dog is not something that should be done lightly. Just like bringing any pet into the family, there are many things to consider:
Can you afford the initial cost of a service dog?
When you apply for a service dog, you will be asked to make a donation towards the training and care of the dog. You will usually have around one year to reach the target, which at ‘Canines for Change’ is approximately $12,000.
In our blog, we have written extensively about ways in which you can fundraise for your service dog. Here are some ways in which you could help to raise some of the funds for your service dog:
Are you financially able to commit to caring for a dog for 15 years?
We estimate the average yearly cost of owning a dog to be between $500 and $3,000 per year. Most service dogs can be expected to live until around fifteen years old. That means a potential lifetime investment of $7,500 – $45,000. This is made up from a combination of regular costs such as food and vaccinations, to one-off/irregular costs such as veterinary charges and dental care.
Are you prepared to care for a dog on a daily basis?
Having a service dog is a lifelong commitment. Not only do you need to be able to provide financially for the dog, but you also need to care for him. You’ll need to feed him several times a day, let him outside regularly for toilet breaks, walk him at least once a day, groom him, play with him and train him to ensure his physical and mental wellbeing.
A service dog deserves the same love, affection and time as any other dog. You must be willing to care for the dog as one of your family for the rest of his life.
Are you prepared to invest time in ongoing training?
A service dog requires regular ongoing training to ensure they are working effectively for you and your specific needs. You will need to learn how to communicate with the dog to let him know when you need his assistance. Likewise, you have to learn how he reacts to certain stimuli so that you know what messages he is trying to tell you.
It can take months to build up a strong level of trust with your service dog. You will need to put in many hours working on a one-to-one basis with the dog, as well as taking him to organized training sessions at the therapy centre that provided him to you.
Are the other people in your house comfortable with getting a service dog?
Having a dog in the house doesn’t just affect you. Whether you live with family members, friends or housemates, it is imperative that everyone in your house is comfortably and happy with the idea of bringing a dog into a household.
If you are in a house share situation, you will need to have some in-depth conversations to ensure that your housemates are not afraid of, allergic to or have otherwise negative feelings towards having a dog in the house.
If you have young children in the family, you should prepare them for life with a dog and teach them how to behave safely and appropriately around them.