Service Dog Program FAQ

What's the difference between a service dog, therapy dog and an ESA?

Service Dogs are trained to perform specific tasks and can be with their handler in public anywhere a civilian is permitted, with few exceptions.
Therapy Dogs are dogs who go with their owners to volunteer in settings such as schools, hospitals, and nursing homes. Therapy Dogs are not trained for specific tasks and are only permitted in facilities where they are working and dog-friendly establishments.
Emotional Support Animals’ qualifications are based on their owner’s need for emotional support. ESAs may be trained for specific tasks, but their primary function is to provide comfort. The Fair Housing Act mandates “reasonable accommodation” to allow ESAs in housing.
If you are instead interested in getting additional training for your ESA, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us for information.

What documentation is required for your service dog program?

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If you seek endorsement from Good Human Dog Training,
we require the following:

To start training, we require the following:
  • a Letter of Medical Necessity from your healthcare provider
  • a signed Service Dog Training Agreement
  • emergency contacts who may agree to provide support and house your dog, in the event of an emergency
  • your dog’s vaccination records and documentation of a negative fecal test 
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What is certification vs. endorsement?

Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), there is no nationally recognized certification for service dogs, and service dog handlers are not required to show any documentation proving their dog is a service dog or that they have a disability. However, a dog must be under the handler’s control and adequately trained to qualify as a service dog. Click here to learn more about the ADA and how it governs the use of service dogs.

Many organizations and training companies offer their own certification to recognize that the dog meets their standards. We feel the term "certified" misrepresents the requirements to utilize a service dog and perpetuates a perceived barrier to owner training. People with disabilities have the right to train their own dogs and are not required to use a professional service dog training program. We're here to help!

Can I do partial training without completing the program?

Yes! We are happy to offer dog training instruction and resources to owner-trainers. You may use the same resources as the teams in our program.

  • Completion of any online courses does not imply endorsement by Good Human Dog Training.  

  • To be endorsed by Good Human, core assessments must be completed in person. Read more here.

How long does it take to complete your program?

The length of training is different for every dog, and many factors need to be considered, such as the dog’s age, trainability, cue/skill sets they need to acquire, and level of commitment of the owner/handler. Training may take two (2) years to complete depending on these factors.

Couldn't I just buy a vest online?

Anyone can purchase a vest to give the public the impression that their pet is a service dog. Wearing a vest (even one that’s labeled “Service Animal”) doesn’t give you a full-access pass to take your dog into a place of business. 

It is expected that the service dog behaves in a non-disruptive manner in public spaces. The ADA specifies that a business owner may ask a person to remove their dog if “the dog is out of control and the handler does not take effective action to control it.” Vest or no vest.

Good Human strives for our clients to be fully prepared for any situation they might encounter while navigating the sometimes challenging world. Upon completion of our endorsement program, you may purchase a Good Human branded vest, ID cards, and other materials to help you present yourself as a professional team.

Once I complete the program, can my dog go anywhere with me? 

Trained service dogs are protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and can be with their handler in public anywhere a civilian is permitted, with few exceptions.

Please read the ADA requirements for service dogs.

Is my dog guaranteed to become a service dog? 

There is no guarantee that any team that starts the training process will successfully complete it. There are many variables to service dog training, such as the handler’s time and availability to do follow-up training, the cues/skills required, the dog’s age and level of socialization, the dog’s genetic disposition, and so on. If your Good Human trainer has any concerns about your dog's capability to complete public access training, we will let you know without delay.

We CAN guarantee that your specific training program will be individualized and intensive enough to give you and your service dog candidate the highest possible chance for completion of the program.

What method do you use to train?

We strive for learner-centered, minimally stressful, and thoughtful training sessions with all species. We only use gentle methods based on the most current dog training and behavior science.

Positive reinforcement is the most humane way to achieve these attributes, and it works faster than other training methods because it increases the odds of the dog learning the skills required.

Will you work with dogs of any breed, age and size? 

Dogs are eligible for our service dog program at six (6) months of age. Puppies should have appropriate socialization and a solid foundation as early as possible. We can recommend great puppy programs in our area and help you find a puppy class local to you if needed. We do not recommend starting with a dog older than four-years-old, depending on the breed. For dogs trained in any scent detection work, we recommend training begins with a dog younger than 1-year-old.

While some breeds have a higher likelihood of preferred temperament and trainability, there are many other breeds and mixes that can do well with the right training. As long as your dog can pass our Readiness Assessment, is in good health, and is appropriate for the service tasks required, we will work with them. 

P.S. We also train people of any breed, age, and size!

What if I don't live close to you? 

We have options!
  • We have an intensive, online course that will minimize the need for in-person training.
  • If you are not close to Winston-Salem, NC, and are willing to travel for 3 assessments (Initial, midway checkpoint and the Public Access Test), we have the program for you!
  • Many clients outside of our immediate training area have successfully utilized an outside trainer to provide assistance working with Good Human.
  • We can use virtual coaching. This is especially useful for training service tasks.

How much does it cost? 

The costs associated with training a service dog are variable depending on the behaviors the dog is being trained to perform, the previous training the dog has had, the amount of time the owner/handler can devote to training practice and the type of program chosen. From puppy to graduation, for a dog requiring full public access and task training, with bi-weekly lessons, expect to budget between $5,000 - $10,000 over the course of the program. 

Because each dog and client is different, we cannot give a more specific estimate without knowing you and your dog. Payments are scheduled throughout training to help make the program affordable to as many clients’ budgets as possible.

Our rates:

* Initial Consultation (90 minutes): $140 USD
* Assessment lesson (60 minutes): $110 USD
* Single private lesson (60 minutes): $110 USD
* Single virtual lesson: (60 minutes): $95 USD
* Packages are discounted
* Self-study pricing is tbd

Note: Costs associated with the purchase of a dog, training costs, veterinarian bills, food (if prescribed by the veterinarian), and other expenses may all be tax-deductible! Please consult your insurance company and tax professional for additional information.

I don't have money for training. What are my options? 

  • Good Human’s Service Dog Training program is paid for by the lesson; there are no upfront costs. We also offer learning opportunities that may be more affordable than the in-person option.
  • Service Dogs are considered necessary medical equipment so check with your health insurance company. You can use the tax-free funds from a Health Savings Account (HSA) or Flexible Spending Account (FSA) to pay for the costs of buying, training, and maintaining a service dog.
  • Many of our clients have successfully funded their training through fundraisers, donations from their community, or sponsorship from non-profit organizations.
  • At this time, we do not offer scholarships. If you are unable to pay for training and are unable to fundraise, we can direct you to a non-profit organization that may better fit your needs.

Can you train my dog for me? 

Teamwork makes the dream work!
We believe the bond between a service dog and their handler is one of the most important aspects of training. This close bond makes it possible for the dog to joyfully learn to recognize and respond to their handler’s physical and physiological state. We’re part of your team too! We will give you the skills to train your own service dog using only the least invasive, scientifically, and ethically sound training methods. And, if you get stuck on a particular behavior or skill, we can help!

Note: We offer day training for those local to Winston-Salem, NC.

My child could benefit from a service dog. Will you work with us? 

We train dogs for clients of all ages. While there are no age requirements for handlers, there are special considerations when training dogs for children not old enough to be active in the training process. We’re happy to discuss these considerations to determine if our service dog training program is a good fit for your child. And, if not, we can help you find a program that suits your needs.

Can you train my dog for planes, trains and automobiles?

Yes! We begin with fun and easy exercises to get your dog used to traveling on public transportation or airplanes. If you would like to fly with your dog, your Good Human trainer can take a short, round-trip flight to teach you and your dog the appropriate procedures. The cost of this training consists of the airplane tickets (yours and your trainer’s), plus an hourly rate for the training.
If you are planning to travel internationally, please let us know. Some countries have certification and quarantine requirements for service dogs.

Will you train dogs for protection?

Nope. Training a service dog for protection or perceived aggression is not considered a task and is not covered under the ADA. Further, it does not align with Good Human’s dog training methods and training philosophy.

You can train dogs, sure. But tell me about your leash-side manner.

The best dog trainers are people trainers. We’re good at both!
The laws of learning also apply to all species, including humans. We know that people learn best through fun and success. Training a service dog can be challenging enough without the trainer adding to the stress. We will make training as agreeable as can be by breaking down behaviors and tasks into small, easy steps.
And, if you are an anxious learner, we also have methods to facilitate learning in people.

What's your #1 dog training tip?

Catch your dog doing it right!
Too often, we focus on what they do wrong. How often do we ignore our dogs when they quietly lie at our feet or play with one of their toys? We don’t notice because it doesn’t bother us. However, the minute the dog grabs our shoe or comes over to hassle us, they get all our attention. Reward the behavior you like, and you will get more of it!

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