Fact checked

How Much Does A Service Dog Cost?

The cost of a service dog can vary widely depending on factors such as the dog's training, the specific tasks it is trained to perform, and the organization or trainer providing the service. On average, however, the total cost can range from a few thousand to tens of thousands of dollars, encompassing expenses for training, certification, and ongoing care.

Susana Bradford
February 14, 2024
April 14, 2023
8 minutes
Updated By
Matt Fleming
September 11, 2023
Expert Reviewed By:
April 14, 2023
August 18, 2021
8 minutes
September 11, 2023
Having a service dog can be an essential part of your life, but there are costs attached. Learn about service dog pricing and your different options.

Service dogs can be life-changing for people with disabilities, providing them with independence, companionship, and a sense of security. But one common question people have when considering getting a service dog is: How much does it cost? The answer, unfortunately, is not straightforward. Service dog costs can vary greatly depending on various factors, including the type of service dog, the organization providing the dog, and the dog's training needs. In this article, we'll break down the costs associated with getting a service dog and provide you with some helpful tips on how to afford one.

Overview of Service Dog Costs

The cost of a service dog can vary depending on factors such as the dog's breed, training, and the organization providing the service. On average, a service dog can cost anywhere from $20,000 to $40,000 or more. However, these costs can be dramatically lowered by choosing more affordable options such as online dog training. Alternatively, some organizations may provide service dogs at a reduced cost or even for free to qualified individuals with disabilities. It's important to do your research and consider all options before committing to a service dog to ensure you're getting the best fit for your needs and budget.

What is a Service Dog? 

Simply put, a service dog is a domesticated animal that has been trained to perform specific assistive tasks for an individual living with a physical disability or mental health disorder. For someone with mobility issues, the dog can retrieve important items or provide physical support in times of need. Individuals with sight or hearing loss can be guided by a trained service dog, while someone suffering from anxiety or depression may benefit from having a psychiatric service dog. One way or another, this animal provides life-saving support that only a dog can offer.

Who Can Benefit from a Service Dog?

A service dog can be a loyal and trustworthy companion that helps its owner navigate daily life. This includes physical service dogs, which help with mobility or sensing issues, or psychiatric service dogs, which help alleviate symptoms or assist in the battle with mental health struggles. You may benefit from a service dog if you’re living with:

  • Sight or hearing-impairment
  • Paraplegia
  • Chronic pain
  • Mobility issues
  • Balance issues
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Substance abuse disorder
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Schizophrenia
  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • More

How Much Does a Service Dog Cost?

The price of a service dog is influenced by various factors, including the breed, the kind of training needed, and the particular tasks that the dog will be trained to undertake. On average, the cost may range from $20,000 to $40,000, or more. 

Some breeds like Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, and German Shepherds, which are frequently used as support dogs may be more costly than others. The price might also be expensive if the dog requires more specialized training like detecting seizures or warning of low blood sugar. 

Another thing to note is that getting a service dog can be a long process. Sometimes, there might be extra expenses such as veterinary care, food, and equipment. To help with the cost, some organizations that supply service dogs could provide financial aid or payment arrangements like FSA Reimbursement for ESA or PSD

Average Service Dog Costs

When determining your service dog costs, you must consider numerous factors, such as whether you want to acquire a trained service dog or adopt a new animal and get it trained. Once you understand everything you need to get started, you also must consider the costs associated with owning and caring for a service dog. 

Cost of Acquiring a Service Dog

Acquiring a service dog is an expensive endeavor, costing on average between $15,000 and $30,000. This option should only be pursued if you have the income to make such an investment, but there are more affordable options that are as good as if not better.

Cost of Training a Service Dog

In-person service dog training can cost over $200 per hour or as inexpensive as $500 per session. There are certainly less expensive courses out there, but you must make sure they are reputable. 

Cost of Owning a Service Dog

Of course, you have to take care of your canine companion all year round, so you should be prepared to devote a significant amount of your budget to that upkeep. Care for your service dog can cost from $500 to $10,000 per year, including food and veterinary care.

Affordable Methods of Getting a Service Dog

If you need a PSD and your budget is tight, you still have options that can cost less or access to support programs.

Online Service Dog Training Courses

A great alternative is to take an online training program. With the Pettable online service dog training program, you’ll save money and strengthen the bond between you and your canine.

Non-Profit Organizations

If your costs are prohibitive, you may be able to find help from a non-profit organization, such as Paws with Purpose. Many non-profits can provide low-income individuals and families with a service dog free of charge.

How To Get A Service Dog

Getting a service dog involves a multi-step process that can sometimes be expensive. Most importantly, you must make sure that your service dog is properly trained. If you already have a dog, you take an online service dog training course or pay for in-person training. Alternatively, you can buy an already-trained service dog. 

Take an online service dog training course

An online training course is affordable and convenient for training your service dog. These courses enable you to train a service dog yourself without needing to hire a dog trainer.

Pettable offers an online PSD training course that walks you through the steps of training a psychiatric service dog. If you want to give online PSD training a try, we offer your money back if you aren’t satisfied after seven days.

Pay for in-person service dog training 

Compared to an online training course, paying for in-person service dog training can be a significant expense, but it is an important investment in your Psychiatric service dog training and your quality of life. 

To help meet the cost, you can look for non-profit organizations and charities that provide the services at a low price for people with disabilities. You can also apply for personal loans, get a health insurance plan that covers the expenses, or have a fundraising campaign to raise the money required. 

Buy a trained service dog

You can also opt to buy a trained service dog if you need immediate assistance and cannot wait for the dog to be trained. It might be expensive to purchase a fully trained PSD dog, so you should choose a reputable and certified service dog organization or trainer to avoid getting scammed. 

Did You Know?

Psychiatric Service Dogs (PSDs) are protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act and are legally granted access to places where pets are prohibited, such as airplane cabins, storefronts and restaurants. Find out more

Types of Service Dogs

There are two major types of service dogs: Psychiatric service dogs and Service dogs for physical disabilities. 

Psychiatric service dogs 

Psychiatric service dogs (PSD) are trained to help people cope emotionally with mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, PTSD, and bipolar disorder. These canines are taught to carry out particular duties that assist their owners in living more freely and managing the symptoms of their disabilities.

Some of the tasks that PSD may perform 

  • Providing a calming presence
  • Interrupting self-harming behavior
  • Providing deep-pressure therapy
  • Alerting to anxiety or panic attacks
  • Assisting with mobility

Service dogs for physical disabilities 

Service dogs for people with physical disabilities are trained to help people with conditions like cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, spinal cord injuries, and movement issues. These canines are taught to carry out a variety of jobs that aid their owners in daily tasks and boost their independence.

Some of the tasks that service dogs for physical disabilities may perform include:

  • Retrieving objects
  • Opening and closing doors
  • Assisting with mobility
  • Turning lights on and off
  • Providing stability and balance
  • Alerting to sounds
  • Providing physical support

How Much Does It Cost To Own A Service Dog?

The price of a service dog is influenced by various factors, including the breed, the kind of training needed, and the particular tasks that the dog will be trained to undertake. On average, the cost may range from $20,000 to $40,000, or more. The cost can be significantly lower if you opt to self-train a service dog with the help of an online training program.

Aside from the base cost of a service dog, you also need to account for the general costs of owning a dog. These costs include food, veterinary care and the cost of various dog equipment.

How Can I Pay For A Service Dog?

Service dogs can be expensive, but luckily, there are affordable options that can help you pay for them.  One of these options is the Flexible Spending Account (FSA) Reimbursement For Your ESA or PSD which can help you cover expenses associated with your service animal including food, training, and veterinary costs. 

You can also apply for assistance programs, grants, or scholarships in non-profit programs like Assistance Dog International which provides service dogs to people with disabilities. 

Alternatively, you can choose Pettable PSD training for service dogs, which is also an affordable option. 

Does Insurance Cover the Cost of a Service Dog?

Unfortunately, most insurance companies don’t cover the costs of acquiring or training a service dog. However, you may be able to use pre-tax money from your flexible spending account or health savings account (FSA or HSA) to pay for your service dog, but you’ll need a letter of necessity to qualify.

Financial Assistance Options for Getting a Service Dog

If you still need financial assistance, there are several organizations dedicated to giving out grants to those in need of a service dog. Organizations such as Assistance Dog United Campaign and Petco Love can help many people get the support they need from a dedicated and loving service dog.

Who Qualifies for a Service Dog?

People who have a disability that substantially limits one or more major life activities. The disability can be a physical one like hearing or vision impairment or a mental health disorder like depression or anxiety. 

Service Dog Vs Emotional Support Animal

A service dog is a type of assistance animal that is trained to perform specific tasks to assist a person with a disability while Emotional support animals (ESAs) are animals that provide emotional support or comfort to their owners but are not trained to perform specific tasks related to a person's disability. 

Pettable Psychiatric Service Dog Training

At Pettable, we offer affordable  Pettable Psychiatric Service Dog Training from a certified trainer. Our training includes evidence-based methods for supporting mental health disabilities with psychiatric service dog work tasks including deep pressure therapy (DPT) and providing tactile stimulation to support the interruption of panic attacks, self-harm, and other symptoms.

We guarantee that the training program will not only work for you but also for your service dog.

Meet the author:
Susana Bradford

Susana is an avid animal lover and has been around animals her entire life, and has volunteered at several different animal shelters in Southern California. She has a loving family at home that consists of her husband, son, two dogs, and one cat. She enjoys trying new Italian recipes, playing piano, making pottery, and outdoor hiking with her family and dogs in her spare time.

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