FAQ | Service Paws Of Central PA

Frequently asked questions

Is it alright to get the attention of a service dog?


No, they are trained not to be distracted by people, animals, sounds, or most anything really and it could cause harm to the recipient. They could be punished for being distracted. For an individual with an invisible disability, it could be life threatening if you distract their dog. They could have a potential seizure, diabetic attack, etc. about to happen and if the dog is distracted it could miss alerting the recipient to an oncoming seizure, etc. An alert from their dog could be enough time to get to a safe place on the ground, bed, or chair to prevent falling or lessening the chance of injury.




How old do they start training service dogs


They usually start socializing them by holding, massaging at 2 weeks and by 6 weeks they are put into warm water to learn to swim and get used to baths. They also start with the very basic “sit”, “come”, playing with toys, etc. Then each week more commands, playtime, and socializing are added.




What is a task?


A task is something a dog will do 90% of the time when commanded.




How many tasks is a dog trained to perform?


The number of tasks depends on the needs required by the disability.




Do all service dogs have to wear a vest?


No.




Do guide dogs have the same rights as other certified service dogs?


Seeing Eye broke the ground for rights and all other guide dog programs strived for years and then service dogs piggy backed off of them




When do you retire a service dog?


A dog is retired when it is unable to perform the tasks required, or at about age 10, so that it has time to be just a pet.




How loing does a service dog work?


On average, a service dog works about eight to ten years.




What happens to retired service dogs?


If you are not able to keep it or find a friend to take it, the schools maintain lists of people who want retired service dogs.




How long does it take to train a service dog?


Training time varies and depends on how many tasks the dog will need to perform and how much individual training is required. It could be anywhere from one month up to two years.




How much does a dog cost?


Costs range up to $50,000. Most organizations generally range between $9,000 and $20,000, which you would be required to raise. Guide dogs are free, which was started with the generosity of Dorothy Eustris, millionaire, with the creation of Seeing Eye.




What breeds do schools use for service dogs?


Schools use any medium to large breed, with the temperament to do the work




What is the most popular breed for service dogs?


Labs and retrievers.




Why do the schools prefer to breed their own dogs?


Schools breed their own dogs to get the characteristics they need for service dogs and to eliminate heredity defects.




What is the best breed to use for a person with dog allergies?


The poodle cross-breeds, and now the Bouvier and Barbett.




What is a proprietor permitted to ask of someone who walks into his/her business?


“Is that a service dog required because of a disability?” “What tasks has that dog been trained to perform for you?”




Can a proprietor ask you to leave if your dog is out of control?


Yes, even if your dog is a certified service dog.




Does a doctor’s note certify your dog as a service dog?


No. A doctor is not legally qualified to certify a service dog.




Does an emotional support dog have the same legal rights as a service dog?


No, an emotional support dog is the same as a devoted pet.




What does SPCP do?


We help individuals locate accredited service dog schools, finance the purchase of accredited service dogs and, help service dog owners with extraordinary veterinary expenses




How can I get a service dog?


Apply to an accredited school which trains them.




How do I know the school is accredited?


Assistance Dogs International (ADI) maintains a list of accredited schools.




When was the first service dog used in the United States?


On June 11, 1928, Buddy, a German Shepherd was introduced by The Seeing Eye in New York City.




What are the different kinds of service dogs?


There are four categories of service dogs: guide dogs, hearing dogs, balance dogs and medical alert dogs.




What kinds of medical alert dogs are there?


Dogs that will detect: seizures, allergens, diabetes, PTSD and this list is growing.




Are service dogs trained to protect you?


No, they are chosen not to be aggressive, however, the dog may protect out of loyalty if the situation arises.




Should a service dog be carried or be given a ride in a stroller?


No, a service dog should have “four on the floor” when working or, maybe have paws on the user in some cases of medical alert dogs.




How old do you have to be to get a service dog?


For guide dogs, most schools say sixteen. However, for medical alert dogs, it can be as young as five. Some organizations make exceptions to this rule if the health of the child can greatly benefit from a dog.




Do males or females work better as service dogs?


With the current breeding practices, it doesn’t make much difference.




Do service dogs get a chance to relax?


Anytime a service dog is off their harness, they are generally allowed to play and relax. Some dogs may be off harness and relaxing at night while a recipient is sleeping, but they are still technically on duty. In most cases they should still respond to a seizure or diabetic attack, etc. even if off duty. Recipients should always make time for relaxing or play, each day for their service dog.




How do you correct a service dog?


The type of correction depends upon the severity of the offense. The school determines what words, actions, etc., are to be used for correcting the dog. In most instances you would use a command such as “leave it’ or “no” firmly.




How do you reward a service dog?


With an emphatic “good girl/boy”. Sometimes treats may be added.




Do you give them treats as a reward?


Too many treats can be harmful, but when working on a task, or when the dog has done something especially well, treats are warranted.




Where should we drop off tabs?


Follow this link to see where you should drop off tabs: CLICK HERE




What area do you serve?


We serve the counties of Bedford, Blair, Cambria, Centre, Clearfield, Fulton, Huntingdon, Somerset in central Pennsylvania.




How does my donation help?


Service dogs can cost up to $35,000 and medical costs for those dogs can get very high also. Your donations allow us to provide much needed financial help. That's why we started this organization.




Where does my donation go?


We have no salaries and offices, our expenses are about 1/3 of the money We've raised, so far. Our big expenses are interpreters, website development and printing. As we get larger donations, and our website is well established, we hope to spend 90 % of our income on our clients.




What do you need the most?


We need our organization to become better known in order to attract qualified Board members, as well as clients in need of assistance.




Are service dogs allowed to go everywhere a person can go?


According to the Americans with Disabilities Act, a service dog is allowed any place a person can go.




Is it okay to pet a working service dog?


It's important for a working dog to stay focused for the safety of the team and maintenance of training standards. However, most handlers enjoy interacting with the public when they have the time. It's an essential courtesy to first ask for permission to pet a service dog.




Do you have to be totally blind to use a dog guide?


No. Many blind people have at least some vision; you do, however, need to be legally blind. People who utilize a mobility device like a white cane for the blind should evaluate whether or not a dog guide might be right for them.




How old do you have to be to train with a dog guide?


Because it takes a certain level of maturity, discipline and commitment to work with a dog guide, the majority of trainees are 16 and older. There is no upper age limit for people who have the health and stamina to work with a dog guide.




Do dog guide schools train pet dogs for blind people?


It's a common misconception that a dog guide is essentially a well-trained pet. Nothing could be further from the truth. This is one of the most highly-trained working animals you'll ever meet. Several thousand hours of training have been put into this partnership. Dog guide schools do not charge for this service.




How long does it take to train a dog guide?How long does it take to train a dog guide?


At 6-8 weeks, the pups begin to learn house manners and obedience and they are introduced to the world through puppy raisers' efforts. At 15-18 months, they begin their formal dog guide training, which takes 2-3 months. They meet their blind partner usually when they are around 1-1/2 years old and the two train together from anywhere between 2 – 4 weeks. But in reality, the training never stops. Most dog guide schools maintain continuous contact with their graduates and dogs, and continue to help them adjust to all sorts of situations they may face as they go through their lives together. This includes whether the person is moving or working in a new area, facing complex traffic situations, or wanting to learn advanced techniques.




How many dog guides are in use in the United States and Canada?


There are roughly 10,000 people using dog guides in the US and Canada. We'd like to see more people become aware of their mobility options and the added benefits of the dog guide lifestyle. But it does take commitment to invite a living being into your home; that's an essential ingredient.




How many places train dog guides?


There are 12 schools accredited by the International Federation of Dog Guide Schools in the United States and still more in other countries. There may be a perception that all dog guide schools are essentially the same, and nothing could be further from the truth. Many of them differ in terms of philosophy, methods of training, size, and perhaps most importantly, how well they support the dog-human partnership after the initial training is complete.




Do the dog guides ever get to play?


Yes! When the harness is off, dog guides have time to play as family pets. In fact, play time is essential to maintaining the strength of the bond between a blind person and his/her guide.




Is it okay for a pet dog to greet a dog guide?


Before you consider allowing your dog to greet a dog guide, please understand the importance of asking permission first, so the blind person can stop if he/she chooses, and remove the dog's harness to signal play time. Your dog should be on a leash and under control. Dog guides are not trained to be protection dogs, but they are busy guiding their partners when they are in their harness.




What should drivers do when they see a dog guide in training or a blind person using a dog?


Drivers should be attentive, as they would with any other pedestrian, especially when turning right-on-red. Dog guides are trained in real-world situations, so it's helpful that you continue going on about your business. Please don't stop and honk, yell out your window, or otherwise distract a blind person using a dog. The person is listening for traffic flow to determine when it is safe to give the command to go forward and cross the street.




Why do dog guide schools rely on kids to train their dogs


The kids you see with dogs wearing a school logo are called puppy raisers. They raise the dogs to be good canine citizens and prepare them for formal training in guidework. Dog guide training is done on the school’s campus by licensed dog guide mobility instructors. Dog guide schools also have many adult puppy raisers, too. It's really quite amazing what these kids and their families do. They devote incredible time and effort, and have to go through a special course to learn how to properly raise a dog guide puppy. They teach the puppies obedience and socialize them to the world. Raising a dog guide puppy involves joining a club and participating in supervised club activities. It's a commitment that not only grows good puppies, but strengthens families and develops tomorrow's community leaders.




Are service dog puppy raisers paid?


Puppy raising, like other volunteer jobs, is a labor of love, and there is no reward greater than seeing a puppy become a working service dog. Raisers are paid in puppy hugs and have the pride and satisfaction of knowing they've had a profound impact on someone else's life.




What costs are covered for puppy raising?


Most service dog schools provide equipment, dog transportation, training, support, and basic veterinary care.




Where do dog guide schools get their funding?  Do dog guide schools for the blind receive government funding?


All of the dog guide schools’ funding is from private sources, donations from individuals and corporations, or from bequests, matching gifts, etc. Dog guide schools receive no government funding.




Does having a dog guide have an impact on employment for someone who is blind?


While statistically more dog guide users are employed than the national average, it's a striking fact that more than 70% of all blind people are unemployed or underemployed, and many live below the poverty level. Much of that has to do with people just not understanding how capable people accommodate for their lack of sight.




What happens to the dog when it retires?


When a dog is ready to retire, the handler can keep it as a pet. If they can’t, the dog usually returns to its raiser family. If neither option is viable, the schools have lists of people who will adopt the dog.