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The average cost of raising an assistance dog ranges from around $10K to $50K depending on the skills for which they are trained.  Some of the most common work they are trained for includes guiding, hearing, or assistance with mobility, autism, epilepsy, educational support, P.T.S.D. and medical alert.

Positive reinforcement in the form of pats, praise and play are used to cement learning for the dogs and full training programs take around 2 to 3 years.

Complex training and a special set of skills are required in creating any type of service dog.  Typically, they will be wearing some type of special vest or harness but not always.  Even though their primary function is to work, service or assistance dogs and their owners have a strong bond.

If offering assistance to a person with a service dog do not grab the person or dog or its equipment.  Allow the person the choice to accept assistance and let them tell you if and how you can help. 

A great deal of concentration is required for a service dog to perform their work. Often, they are in an everchanging environment and are continually looking for potential hazards. Do not pat, talk to or distract a working dog. An innocent pat whist the dog is on duty can hinder the dog’s concentration and potentially unravel months of training.  Even if the dog is just lying by the owner’s feet do not distract it or stare at it. Ignoring the dog is the best way to behave.

If you are with your own dog, always keep your dog on a leash and under control if you see a working dog.  If you need to approach for any reason, let the person know that you have a dog with you before attempting to approach.

Teach children the etiquette on how to behave when they see a service dog and explain the reasons.

Guide Dogs are permitted to go anywhere the person working with the dog is allowed to go.

Following the above advice will help service dogs and their owners navigate their community better.

Leah & Angela OMeara

Hound Dog Day Care (Specialists in Dog Minding & Dog Boarding, Pet Sitting Brisbane & Doggy Day Care Brisbane)