How long does it take to train a service dog?

Do you know what a service dog is? And how long does it take to train a dog to exercise that kind of skill? This post will answer these questions addressing dog service to perform dog training activities.

How long does it take to train a service dog?

Training a service dog can last from 2 to 3 years. Training can be carried out by a professional specialist in canine behavior. Just like breeders can teach their dogs through daily techniques and activities.

The selection of dogs begins even before the puppies are born. Dogs with good behavior and ease of learning are selected to reproduce. After the birth of the puppies, the dogs begin to be trained after the end of the initial vaccination protocol.

At first, the dogs go to socializing families, where they will be challenged with some training and will develop socialization skills with humans. 

Dog training involves obedience tests such as sit, lie, roll over, fetch an object, and be quiet. After training with the socializing families, the dogs return to the organization responsible for the animal where they will be trained with more challenging activities.

At this moment dogs can be trained to associate a certain behavior with an action, for example identifying a human seizure and communicating it to friends, family, or neighbors. 

They can also be trained to respond to different smells. In addition, dogs can be stimulated with stressful noises like pops and fireworks to adapt to this type of stress. This training can last up to 2 years.

Some dogs may be exempted from training. After socialization, dogs undergo a behavior and health test. Some dogs may exhibit unwanted behaviors such as aggressive and insecure. In addition, dogs with health problems are also exempted from service dog training.

In these cases, the dogs can be donated or sold to be used as companion dogs. Or the dog can be trained for another type of work that is more suited to its personality.

What is a service dog?

A service dog is a dog that accompanies people with disabilities to help these people in their day-to-day activities. Thus, avoiding accidents in addition to filling these tutors with love, affection, and companionship. The service most developed by the dogs are:

  • Guide dog: Helps people with visual impairments, informing them of obstacles and avoiding accidents.
  • Hearing Dog: helps people with a hearing impairment or disability;
  • Alert Dog: Alerts people to common conditions, e.g. people with seizure or diabetes;
  • Help dog: helps people with organic or motor disabilities, looking for objects, opening doors, among other tasks;
  • Emotional Help Dog: These are dogs that help people with psychological and/or psychiatric problems.

Teaching dogs to work as a service dog involves training a dog with a complex set of skills to access public roads, thus preparing the animals for the challenges that will be encountered on the streets.

In addition, dogs are trained to be docile, obedient and to identify and communicate situations that can lead to damage to the health of the person who has some degree of disability. So, these dogs are prepared to help a person with a disability.

The main tasks taught to dogs involve training the animal to control impulses, ignoring anything that can stress or hinder the dog from performing its activities in addition to training to make the dog always alert and patient with its owner.

Where can I find service dogs?

These dogs can be found in organizations that can be located on the internet. These organizations are responsible for breeding, training, and marketing these dogs. There is usually a waiting list to buy a puppy. These lists are often long.

The delay in getting a dog trained causes many breeders to buy a puppy and train it at home with the help of a canine behavior specialist. It is worth remembering that not all breeds learned the commands and became good service dogs.

The most common breeds to be used as service dogs

Several breeds are used as service dogs. To be a service dog, the animal must have a balanced temperament in addition to being very sociable and easy to learn.

The most common breeds for service dogs are:

  •  Labrador retriever;
  • Golden retriever;
  • Poodle;
  • Cocker Spaniel;
  • Cavalier King Charles;
  • Shetland Shepherd Dog;
  • Corgi;
  • Australian Shepherd;
  • German Shepherd.

Some mixed breeds can also be used when well trained. But before giving the animals the title of service dog, they undergo several evaluations that aim to test their intelligence, behavior and socialization with the tutors.


A service dog is the dog that aims to help people with disabilities. Usually, these people can have various mobility problems and even simple problems at home. These dogs can help these people physically and emotionally. The training of the service dogs is usually long and can extend to more than 3 years. However, only healthy dogs with appropriate behavior are selected for these activities. Thus, ensuring a better quality of life for their tutors.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): How long does it take to train a service dog?

What breed of dog guides blind people?

The most common dogs to be used as guide dogs are:

  • Labrador retriever
  • Golden retriever
  • German Shepherd

Labrador retriever dogs are the most used breed for this type of work. Due to his intelligence and affectionate and friendly demeanor.

How long does it take to train a service dog?

A dog can be trained in a period of 2 to 3 years. Since, after this period, the pet also needs to go through an adaptation phase with the person with a disability in which the dog will help.

When should I retire my service dog?

In general, the working time of a service dog is 8 years. After that he retires and can stay with his guardian or be adopted by a family he has lived with before.


Badalo, C. A. D. A. (2014). O papel do cão-guia como facilitador da inclusão da pessoa cega na sociedade: mobilidade, segurança, interação social e qualidade de vida(Doctoral dissertation).

Martin, A. G., & Marta, T. N. (2010). O dever estatal de garantir o treinamento de cães-guia. Revista Brasileira de Direitos Fundamentais & Justiça, 4(13), 249-278.

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