How Much Does It Cost To Train A Service Dog?

service dog vest
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Written by Abdulmumin Akinde

Updated: July 14, 2023

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Thousands of people living with disabilities benefit from the assistance that a service dog provides for their daily life. These specially trained dogs provide private guard, support, and companionship for people living with both mental and physical disabilities, and they’re most often spotted by their signature service dog vest. They can do different things, from alerting their handler to danger to performing simple tasks. But how much does it cost to train a service dog?

Chart of costs associated with training a service dog.
Training a service dog can be very expensive because of the length of training and specialty supplies.

Owning a trained service dog reduces stress and risks for people with disabilities. There’s no doubt that the help that these dogs provide is quite valuable. The military and police also train special dogs to assist them with their duties such as patrol work, explosive detection, tracking and so on.

The cost of training these services dogs can be quite expensive. They cost so much because they must undergo extensive training to become useful to their owners. But how exactly does it cost to train a service dog? Read on to find out. 

How To Get A Service Dog 

Generally, there are two main options to get a service dog; you can either apply for an already trained dog from an agency or train your own dog till it becomes qualified to be a service dog. 

The cost of purchasing a trained service dog is high. Typically, it ranges from $15,000 to as high as $50,000. Some high-end super security dogs for the rich might even cost six figures. Service dogs that only provide emotional comfort but no physical assistance are generally less expensive because they don’t need the intensive training that dogs trained to assist people do. Still, they can be quite expensive, so people often opt for dog training instead.  

You may also choose to train your own dog because you’re comfortable with it already, and you don’t want to go through the long process of getting familiar with a new pet. 

How Much Does It Cost To Train A Police Dog

K-9s are specially trained dogs that assist police officers with patrol work, tracking, crowd control, explosive detection, and other duties. These specially bred and highly trained dogs cost a lot of money to train. Generally, full training in routine patrol work, bomb detection, and hard surface tracking can cost between $12,000 to $15,000 in total. The exact cost depends on how long the training takes.

How Much Does it Cost to Train a Military dog?

The military spends between $20,000 to $40,000 to prepare military service dogs for battle. The cost is even higher for specially trained service dogs that are experts at detecting explosives. For these dogs, the cost of training may be as high as $150,000. Military dogs receive intensive training that spans over several months before they become the well-equipped fighting machines that they are. A trained military dog may be able to sniff out explosives in less than two minutes.

How Much Does It Cost To Train A Personal Service Dog? 

People opt for the option of training their service dogs for various reasons. However, one of the most common reasons people choose this option is the cost. It is relatively cheaper than buying a trained dog, but how much does it really cost? 

Cost Of Buying An Untrained Dog

If you do not have a dog at the moment, then you’ll have to buy a new untrained dog. Buying a puppy can cost anywhere between $2,000 and $4,000, depending on the breed of dog you’re buying. We recommend buying a puppy from a breeder that specializes in raising dogs for the service industry rather than adopting an untrained dog. Even though the latter option is cheaper (between $250 and $500 for a rescue dog), you might have issues with the dog’s trainability. 

Dogs bred for the service industry are specially selected for that purpose. Their parents have shown high quality in terms of obedience and trainability, making their offspring an ideal service dog candidate. Training a rescue dog will be quite challenging because you might be dealing with a potentially badly trained dog. 

Cost Of Doing A Character Test For Your Pet 

But what if you already own a dog and intend to train it to be a service dog. Before you proceed, you should do a character test first. No matter how great your pup is, not all dogs can be service dogs. You’ll need a session of character test to determine if training your dog would be a great idea. This test costs between $300 and $400. Doing it will save you from wasting money and time on training a dog that might not perform great as a service dog due to a lack of training in puppyhood or any other reason. 

Cost Of Training 

Once your dog has been confirmed as a good candidate for service, the next step is to proceed with training. As far as training goes, you have three options. You can either hire a trainer, train your dog on your own or join training classes. The cost of training will depend on which of these options you choose. 

Hire a trainer 

Hiring an experienced trainer is the fastest and most effective way to train your dog to become a service animal. However, it is also the most expensive option. The cost of hiring a one-on-one trainer ranges from $150 to $250 per hour. 

The exact cost of the training will depend on how long it takes to train your dog. This depends on how well your dog adapts to training, the skills you want it to learn, and if it has previous training of any sort. You can help your dog learn faster and reduce the cost of training by augmenting the professional training in some ways. For instance, you can teach your pup some basic obedience training on your own before hiring a professional for more intensive training.

Train on your own

Training your dog on your own is the cheapest way to get your pup to become a service dog. Of course, to train a service dog, you must become a qualified trainer yourself. This means you have to first invest in learning the skills. Once you have mastered the training, you can start practicing them with your dog. 

Fortunately, there are books, guidelines, online groups, and free courses you can take online to help you get started with service training. You can also get information and help from experienced trainers online. 

Service dogs need to learn obedience, manners, and public access skills. Also, if you need your dog to provide physical disability assistance, it has to undergo task training. It is always best to start service dog training when your dog is still a pup. This way, you won’t need to waste valuable training time correcting unwanted behavior. 

Attend group training courses 

Another alternative you can explore is to join group training classes. Some dog trainers or training schools over group training courses for service dogs. These group lessons will teach your pup basics such as manners, assistance tasks, and public access. 

Group classes may cost about $150 per lesson. However, the exact cost may vary from one region to the other. How much you’ll spend on training at the end of the day depends on the trainability of your pup. You may spend between $3650 to $40250 for a full year of training. 


Service dogs can help improve the quality of life of people with physical or mental disabilities. Although training a service dog can be costly, you really can’t put a value on how helpful these beloved canines can be in helping a person regain their independence. 

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About the Author

Abdulmumin is a pharmacist and a top-rated content writer who can pretty much write on anything that can be researched on the internet. However, he particularly enjoys writing about animals, nature, and health. He loves animals, especially horses, and would love to have one someday.

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