Some dogs can sit and stay on command. Others can do entertaining tricks like "shake hands" or "play dead." These tricks are certainly impressive, but service animals are the elite, impeccably trained dogs at the top of their class. Service dogs greatly improve many people's lives, whether they work as seeing eye dogs or as psychiatric service dogs. They are held to a high standard of obedience. If you'd like to train your dog as a service animal, here are some tips:

1. Make sure your dog has a suitable temperament.

Service dogs must have good manners at all times. If you would like to train your dog to become a service animal, you should first make sure that they are a good candidate. In order to become a service dog, your dog must not be aggressive, easily distracted, or overly excitable. Your dog shouldn't jump on people when he greets them, beg for food, or bark habitually.

2. Start training as soon as possible.

Some service dogs begin training later in life, but it's better to start training your dog as soon as you can. Ideally, you would train your dog from when it is a puppy. Certain service dogs, such as seeing eye dogs, must begin their training as puppies, since the process is so extensive.

3. Teach the basics.

Before you enroll your dog in a specialized service dog training program, it's a good idea to teach him basic commands. This will teach your dog discipline, and it will also form a good base of training. Teach your dog essential commands such as sit, stay, come, and down. You may be able to find puppy or dog training classes in your community. These classes are typically several weeks long. They're an excellent way to get your dog into the training habit.

4. Find a service dog training program.

In the United States, a dog is recognized as a service dog when it is trained to accomplish tasks that help its disabled owner. For this reason, no special license or certification is necessary, according to Service Dog Central. In general, you should be wary of dog training programs promising "certification" or "licensing," as these certifications are not required or regulated. Instead, look for dog training programs with good reputations among the training community.

Service dogs make wonderful companions to those who are disabled or otherwise in need. By training your dog to help others, you will be doing your community a great service. These four tips will set you and your dog on the path toward a greatly enriched life. To learn more, contact a company like Canine Behavior Center with any questions or concerns you have.