Service Dog Training

What is a service dog? 

A service dog is a dog trained to mitigate the disability of his or her owner. The disability could be visible or invisible, medical, emotional or psychiatric in origin. Disabilities often fit into more than one category.

A Service Dog could be on duty within the home only or provide support for his/her person 24/7. Each person’s needs may be different and needs often change and evolve over time.

Service dogs must have a solid foundation of basic good manners/general obedience for work in public settings and receive regular, ongoing and valuable socialization. Training for service dog work includes identifying functions and setting up a treatment plan with realistic goals and techniques. It requires commitment and a proactive sensibility to set up for a successful partnership.

Dogs can be owner-trained to perform a variety of behaviors including mobility support (balance/bracing), turning lights on/off, opening/closing doors, retrieval of objects such as cordless phones, pill bottles, drinks, purses, keys, etc. Dogs can be trained to help motivate someone who is depressed, alert to seizures/high blood pressure/etc., help an individual develop pragmatic language and improve social skills, prevent impulsive behaviors (.i.e., running away with little to no regard for dangerous consequences). And so much more.

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Rachel and Eriko from Rachel Friedman on Vimeo.

Please review the Guide to Supervised Owner-Trained Working Dog Training and take a look at this sample wish listContact us if interested in more info or to schedule an initial meeting. 

Service Dog Training services include (but are not necessarily limited to):

  • Help in choosing a suitable puppy or dog. Getting a dog with the right temperament and which is the “right make and model” for your specific needs is the key to successful service dog training. 
  • Temperament testing of an existing dog, i.e. evaluating an existing dog for suitability for service dog training (In my experience, 85% of pet dogs do not meet criteria as public access service dogs)
  • Raising/socializing/training your pup for 1-3 months prior to you taking over the role.
  • Guidance in teaching you how to raise and train your dog for service.
  • Support, coaching, linking to appropriate additional resources, board & train options, etc.
  • Advocate if/when necessary with systems including mental health, schools (IEP), PT, OT, etc.

I am currently working with Autism Assistance Dogs*, Psychiatric Service Dogs for children and adults (for people with depression, anxiety, panic attacks, PTSD, and other diagnoses) and Mobility Assist Service Dogs (for people with Parkinson’s or balance disorders, or wheelchair users), hearing assist dogs.

*An autism assistance dog can help bridge the social/emotional problems of children on the autism spectrum in a variety of ways, including but not limited to difficulty with peer interactions, self esteem, repetitive behaviors, temper tantrums, sensory issues, etc. The prerequisite is at minimum a child’s love of and gentleness with animals, especially dogs, and willing and participating adults in the child’s life. Service dogs for children with special needs is a 3 way relationship between dog, child and responsible adults (parents, teacher’s aids, teachers, therapists, etc.).

Fees for service dog training are customized for each client and discussed in advance. There is no cookie cutter approach to this process.

NOTE: Local in-home service dog training limited to 75 mile radius of Cleveland, OH. Should you be willing to travel, accommodations can be made in Cleveland for those interested. Contact us for more details. Distance Learning is also available if deemed an appropriate means of communication [see below].

For more general information about Service Dogs, check out International Association of Assistance Dog Partners, Delta Society and Autism Speaks.

Distance Learning

While hands-on direct service is always best, there are those who can work effectively using webcam, telephone, IM or email contact. This is especially helpful for those who live in areas with no suitable trainers.

Please review the Guide to Supervised Owner-Trained Working Dog Training and take a look at this sample wish list.  Contact us if interested in more info or to schedule an initial meeting. 

Additional reading for anyone thinking about a service dog:



For perhaps, if the truth were known, we’re all a little blind, a little deaf, a little handicapped, a little lonely, a little less than perfect. And if we can learn to appreciate and utilize the dog’s full potentials, we will, together, make it in this life on earth.Charlotte Schwartz