Costs of Owning a Service Dog

For new Service Dog in Training Owners

Affording your SDiT

When it comes to realizing what a great resource that a service dog would be in your life to aid to your disability, you often look over the costs of getting them from an organization. Why not? They come already trained, have gone through the puppy phase, and have no fear of not passing through to becoming a certified service dog. However they are roughly $15-30,000 and have around a 2 year or more wait list as well as not having your pick really of what kind of breed you get. These are often reasons that lead people to owner training their own service dog.

I am on the journey currently to training my dog, Finn, to become a medical alert dog that will respond to things like anxiety, panic attacks, PTSD, my panic disorder, OCD, and many other things. When looking for a service dog, it took me so much research to finally realize there was no way that I would be able to afford one. While there were nonprofits, often they specialized in warrior PTSD or other areas of specialty and there just wasn’t a viable option for the services that I needed my S.D. (service dog) to have.

Which helped bring me to owning my own service dog and training him myself. While some days are better than others, it’s important for me to out way the pros and cons of training and looking into how big of a budget my wallet would have to stretch to finally gain some independence back in my life.

Buying your Pup

My first major purchase for my S.D. was actually buying him! I researched for months, throughout the spring and summer, about breeders, shelters, adoption agencies and finally found a litter due in early August. If you are having trouble picking the type of breed for your service dog check out this post!

Finally I had found a breeder that I had trusted, was selling him registered at an affordable rate ($500) and would come with all his paperwork of his lineage. It was important for me to find a breeder that I had trusted because he would essentially be giving me my four legged crutch for their entire lifetime. I was sure to ask him many questions about testing the pup and making sure he was properly being socialized before I finally got to meet the litter, and eventually meet my good boy. If you are struggling to find a breeder, this post is a great way to get started.

Overall, finding your price range for your pup will help in finding the right breeder for the job. It is not going to be an easy journey. I had to be reminded constantly that my S.D. was out there waiting to help me find my independence. It’s something you have to remind yourself too.

Essentials

The next costs are the more obvious when it comes to expecting a new puppy in any house. You’ll have to think about the usual list of dog things such as:

  • Toys
  • Dog food
  • Bones
  • Collar
  • Leash

But it’s important to remember that often you can find these things discounted or on sale. I used Chewy throughout my preparation for Finn and loved it! Their two day shipping made it even easier when he was actually here for me to order last minute things that I might have forgotten for him.

The easiest way for me to budget these things was to research each category and finding the most affordable one in my price range. For instance, I knew I didn’t want to spend more than $100 on his essentials so I wrote down the average costs of each item and then researched further into finding things that helped save me money and still were good products for my good boy. My budget looked something like this:

  • Toys – $10
  • Dog food- $20 per month
  • Bones/Chews- $10
  • Collar- $10
  • Leash – $10
  • Dog Bed – $20
  • Crate- $20

Vet Bills

The next major purchase I had to make was Finn’s vet bills. I had heard that the vet could be extremely expensive depending on where you lived. I also wanted to be able to travel around a lot, so having a vet I could go to if I had an emergency on vacation was important to me too. This overall brought me to signing up for a puppy preventative care plan with Banfield through PetSmart.

I spend a little over $30 each month to pay for the hundreds of dollars worth of shots, vaccinations, and dewormers that Finn had to get during his early puppy stage. I loved that I was able to go to any Petsmart and be able to take him whenever I needed. They were especially helpful after Finn had gotten attacked by another dog and needed specialized recovery treatments. They were so helpful and I’m so grateful for the great service, the caring nature and the wonderful people who work there. Plus saving hundreds of dollars? YES PLEASE!

Gear Cost

Last but not least, once you start getting more and more into training, you eventually will need to get some gear to let people know that your pup is in training and shouldn’t be purposefully distracted. This was a game changer for Finn and I as many people tried to come over pet him cause “he’s a cute boy” (which I mean he is, but still, give me a break) or call his name all while he was working. Once I bought his vest though, it sent out a much clearer message that he shouldn’t be pet and even more when I got the “please do not pet me” patch. If you are looking for affordable gear costs check out this latest post!

Pros vs. Cons Owner Training Costs

While it’s not free, owner training your service dog definitely works out to be much cheaper than waiting for an organization to give you a service dog that might cost thousands of dollars. Especially with over a year wait, owner training has many advantages from being able to be there for the puppy days for the dog as well as saving so much money. Overall, while there still is a cost associated with owner training, this has become a much more affordable option for many people with disabilities as they often have other costs such as medical bills to take care of. For myself, I’ve found so much more relief having my pup in my life. Even if he’s not fully trained yet, his undeniable emotional support that he provides me is essential to my life. I can’t wait till he is fully trained to alert and task me so that he might be able to give me some independence from my disability.