Cost of the Dog
Fist off there is the cost of purchasing a dog. This is not as simple as just going to the shelter and picking out a dog. You will likely need the assistance of an experienced trainer who knows what s/he is looking for to do temperament testing and evaluations in order to help you find the right dog or puppy that has the potential to do service dog work. Then there is to adoption fee or cost of the dog. Many people choose to go with an older dog that may already have some training hoping that this will make training easier/go faster or because this is a cheaper option. Unfortunately this option often leaves you with a big red question mark as to the health of the dog. It is not uncommon for rescue dogs to end up having to be failed due to serious genetic health issues that pop up. Socialization of an older dog can also be much harder. Many older dogs end up having to be failed because they did not receive the socialization necessary as a puppy to make it as a service dog. This is why I always recommend going with a responsible breeder who does health and genetic testing on all of their dogs and focuses on breeding for good health and solid temperaments. Whatever route you decide to go, between the fees of paying a trainer to help you find the right dog, adoption fees, purchasing costs, etc. you are looking at anywhere from $400-$5,000
A High Quality Diet
Next up is making sure you keep your dog on a high quality diet. You cannot just buy any cheap food from the grocery store. A service dog needs to be in pique physical condition to be able to work and a good quality diet is a huge part of that. You will also need to provide plenty of training treats and appropriate chews. Depending on the size and energy level of your dog, you are easily looking at spending anywhere from $1,000-$4,000 on food just during the training process of your dog.
Veterinary Care is also a must to make sure that your dog remains in the best of health to ensure that s/he can always work for you. This will include not only all the basics (yearly check ups, vaccines, spay/neutering, etc.), but will also include hip and elbow x-rays and health clearances once your dog is at the appropriate age to ensure that they are physically healthy enough to do the work you will need him/her to do for you. You can expect to be paying anywhere from $1,500-$5,000 in total veterinary costs.
It is extremely ill advised to try to train your own service dog all by yourself. When it comes to public access training there are a lot of laws, regulations, and standards that if you are not aware of can get you into trouble. When it comes to task training, there are things that if not approached properly and correctly can be dangerous to you and/or your dog. There are a lot of tasks as well that just because you can train them, doesn't mean you should! So enlisting the help of an experienced, LIMA based service dog trainer who can walk you through the ins and outs of everything is a MUST. If you already have a lot of dog training experience, you may only need assistance occasionally (at least once a month is recommended). Most people will need help much more frequently (weekly or every other week). Enrolling in group classes and socialization classes is also a good idea to help keep your skills up and keep your dog socialized to other dogs. Over all, depending on the prices of the training program you have chosen, as well as exactly how much assistance you are needing, you should expect anywhere from $3,500-$20,000 for training over the next 2 years.
Specialty Gear and Equipment
Service Dogs require a lot of specialty gear and equipment. Since this gear will all be used on a daily basis it is also important to get very high quality equipment that will last you a while. This can include a standard leash and collar, specialty leashes and collars, a service dog vest, medication bags, specialty harnesses and bridge handles, dog boots, treat pouches, a settle mat, travel food and water bowls, and more. In the end all this can easily cost anywhere from $300-$3,000
So how much does it cost to train a service dog? A lot more than people think! This is why the vast majority of people looking to get a service dog, as well as most reputable service dog companies have to rely largely on donations and fundraising in order to cover all of the costs.
I love dogs and I love teaching people about dogs! Here on my blog I can do just that!