From start to finish it takes two full years for a service dog to begin its working life. Pups that are selected for service work begin their training as early as age six weeks. With each developmental stage expanding their training. As with any dog training begins with potty training, learning their name, developing social skills, exploring their world to develop sensory familiarization, and developing simple skills. Once the pup has reached six months of age the obedience programs include Canine Good Citizen skills, more outings, and begin to work on the specific jobs they will eventually perform for their handler.
Overall a service pup is trained approximately 30 minutes a day every day during the first 3 months in any training program. That time is doubled every three months or so to develop the dogs’ ability to provide a full working day for the individual and it also depends on the type of tasks and type of service dog specialty the dog is being trained for.
Whether the handler has hired a professional to train with them like we do at Dog Works Training Co, or they have qualified for a dog already trained with another company or they are training the dog themselves keeping up with the training is lifelong. There’s a saying if you don’t use it you’ll lose it. This is true for service dogs too. Daily practice is important to keep those skills on point. Professional training companies require a recertification every two years to ensure that the dog is performing at its best and to make any adjustments in training to meet the continued needs of the handler.
A service dog undergoes around 2000 hours of training in the first two years of its life. Some get even more. That equates to about three hours of training per day for 24 months or 730 days. Sounds unbelievable, doesn’t it? At Dog Works Training Co we require each of our clients to complete a minimum of 300 training hours with their dog prior to receiving certification.