Frequently Asked Questions

Why do I need a Service Dog Consultation?

A Service Dog Consultation is an opportunity for you to ask a full range of questions about service dog partnerships. Among other topics, we will address the following: Where do I find a dog to be my partner? Do I want to start with a puppy or an adolescent dog? What if I already have a pet dog whom I would like to train to be my service dog partner? How do Service Dog laws apply to me? I really love and understand a certain breed of dog, is it appropriate for me to look for a dog of that breed as my new “partner”?

I have a pet dog. Will you help me train her to be my service dog?

I can help you determine whether your pet dog has an appropriate temperament for service dog work, and whether you have done the types of socialization activities service dogs need to be safe and comfortable working in public. Depending on the age at which a dog enters training, it usually takes 18-24 months of intensive training for a dog to become a full-fledged service dog Sadly, dogs have an all-too-short life span, averaging 10-12 years. The life of a service dog is intense and can be stressful for their minds and bodies.

Many, if not most, service dogs retire by the age of nine or ten. It is not, therefore, advisable to start preparing a dog for service work if the dog is already three- years old or older.

I am on a very limited fixed income. I don’t think I can afford your fees. Do you offer any discounts?

Yes, I offer a modest discount for packages of pre-paid services. Selecting and training a service dog is a serious commitment of time, energy and money. Some people who are on a fixed income will seek grants, or have a fundraising drive to cover some of the costs encountered in the process of finding and training a service dog. It is important to first consider whether you have enough income to cover high quality dog food, training treats, service dog equipment, and veterinary costs that will continue for the life of the dog.

My disabilities are complex. Are you willing to work with my treatment team?

I welcome the opportunity to collaborate with any one who is part of your treatment and care team including: your primary care physician, medical specialists, psychotherapist, occupational and physical therapists, family members, etc.

What do people do who can no longer care for or utilize the help of a service dog because their health status has changed?

Some people choose to keep their service dog as a pet, if a family member can assist with the dog’s care, as needed. If you are already my client, and you do not want to, or are unable to keep your service dog as a pet - I will try to help you and or your family members find a placement for your dog. If the dog is still young enough to adapt to working for a new partner, we might be able to find a compatible, disabled handler to adopt your dog through my connections to the service dog community.

What if I need my dog to have specific skills that you have never trained before?

I have been part of the worldwide service dog community for over twenty years. I am in regular communication with professional service dog trainers, certified animal behavior consultants, and veterinary behaviorists. There is a high probability that if I don’t have the skills to help you, I know or can find someone who has the experience you need. I will refer you to a colleague whenever it is in your best interest.

FREE 10-minute initial phone consultation.

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Contact Barbara by email: Barbara Handelman or by telephone 802-649-5213  •  Norwich, Vermont