Ask just about any veteran who has a service dog and you will see how much better each is doing since receiving one. However, if you are a disabled veteran considering getting one, here are 5 service-dog owner challenges you may face.
Service-Dog Owner Challenges to Consider Before Applying for One
1. Say good-bye to being alone.
Once you receive your service dog, he will always be within two to six feet of you to perform his duties. Whether you’re sleeping, eating, or watching a movie, your canine friend will be near you. If you are a person who cherishes alone time, a service dog may not be for you.
2. You will be responsible for your service dog’s daily maintenance and care.
Once you own a service dog, it will be your responsibility to provide him with daily exercise, nutrition, breaks, grooming, and health needs. Trips to the vet and groomer will become a regular part of his care so he stays healthy and will be able to help you cope daily. Do you have the time and finances to assume these responsibilities?
3. Be prepared to answer lots of questions.
As you take your service dog out and about, be prepared to answer questions from bypassers you encounter. You will need to explain to individuals that by law, you can take this dog with you wherever you go. You’ll get inquiries about your disability; how you qualified for the dog; as well as, other questions regarding your private life. You may encounter people telling you their stories about dogs they have owned or own that remind them of your dog. You might experience yelling, pointing, or unhappy people who don’t want to be around a dog in a restaurant, doctor’s office, movie theatre, or other public establishment. Will these questions become irritating to you?
4. You must maintain the standards of your serviced dog’s training.
You must constantly reinforce your service dog’s training by sticking to the guidelines presented to you during your first orientation period with him. For example, allowing people to pet your service dog while he is working will distract him from his responsibilities – helping you. Feeding him food from your plate will encourage him to expect the same treatment in a restaurant.
5. You will need to be assertive.
To best serve your needs, your service dog needs to be happy, attentive, and focused. Are you ready to tell people not to touch your service dog or make distracting loud noises around him? Will you be able to tell the little child who dangles a cookie in front of your service dog’s face to stop? Can you tell your groomer that you are not dropping off your service dog, but rather remaining with him until his grooming session is finished? You will be telling lots of people that they can’t treat your service dog like a normal dog because he is a “working” dog. If you tend to be a timid person, a service dog may not be for you.
Owning a service dog can be a wonderful experience if you remember that it is a true partnership. Your dog will best be able to assist you if you can help him do his job. Are you fit to overcome these five service-dog owner challenges so they don’t nip at your heels?
Patriot Service Dogs, Inc is a 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to helping our disabled military community gain a sense of independence through their partnership with a well-trained service dog. Our focus is placing service dogs with disabled active, retired or medically discharged military who have given so much for our freedom. We were formed in July of 2009 in Central Florida with initial offices in Jacksonville & Belleview. At the time of our incorporation, we had 7 founding members with an active and dedicated board. To get more informative updates about our organization, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter. We welcome your suggestions as well as financial support through our Donate button on this website. If you are interested in volunteering, contact us at 352-514-9903, and we’ll gladly find a spot for you. We hope you will share our blog posts with your family and friends.