Service Dog Training

If you are looking for specialized Service Dog training, the professional trainers and programs at Misty Pines can help prepare you and your dog for the necessary requirements.

All dogs that are to be Misty Pines Certified Service Dogs will need a valid prescription for a service dog from a doctor and will need to complete four main components.

Service Dog Training Requirements

Obedience and Manners

It is expected that dogs looking to become certified have a high level of obedience and manners in a multitude of situations. Our group classes build a solid obedience foundation that has practical applications for pets and working Service Dogs alike. If you are starting out with a puppy, more classes may be necessary to build these skills. Adult dogs that have already started with obedience skills may not need many classes. To begin this process, you will attend an orientation and then begin into group obedience classes.  Dogs over 8 months that already have a foundation of obedience may attend the CGC/MPTD/Service Dog Preparation Classes. It will be important for you to talk with a trainer when you come for classes to discuss your goals and needs, such as retrieving or scent searching.

Canine Good Citizen Test

Passing the Canine Good Citizen (CGC) test is the second component of Misty Pines Service Dog certification. Dogs that pass this test have demonstrated that they are able to perform appropriate obedience and manners in the home and out in the community. Misty Pines offers CGC Prep Classes to help prepare you for the exam, which we host quarterly.

Misty Pines Therapy Dog Test

A Therapy Dog must demonstrate basic obedience commands and be under control at all times, including high distraction situations involving medical equipment such as wheel chairs, crutches, walkers and more.

Public Access Test

The Misty Pines Public Access Test is the final component of Service Dog Certification. Dogs need to receive a minimum of 120 hours of schooling over 6 months or more, and at least 30 hours devoted to outings in public places. The test will contain exercises to be executed around vehicles, retail stores, and a restaurant setting. The owner will need to provide a disability letter from their doctor and show proof of Service Dog Insurance through their home owner’s insurance prior to scheduling the Public Access Test.

If you are interested in getting more information or have questions regarding training your dog through Misty Pines to be a service dog please click the link to fill out a request form.  Once received please allow up to 5 business days for a response.

All Service Dogs in training must be outfitted with an appropriate vest and patch designation. Please refer to the websites below regarding Service Dog ID cards and vests.

Dog/handler teams will receive a certificate of completion upon passing the Public Access Test. Completion of all 4 components may take 1-2 years depending on the dog’s manners and maturity, as well as socialization around other dogs and people. It is imperative to have a well-socialized dog for service certification. 

Please note: Service Dogs CAN be Therapy dogs (TD).

MP Service Dog FAQ


How long does it take to train my dog to become a service dog?

There are many variables which affect the timeframe, but it takes roughly 2 – 2.5 years. Service dogs require a minimum of 120 hours training, plus 30 additional hours of training in a public setting. Students in our Service Dog Program must log their own training hours, and provide proof of these hours prior to taking the Public Access Test.

How much does it cost?

There are a number of factors that determine cost, and it varies for each individual. Training generally includes an extensive combination of group classes, private lessons, and boot camp.

How do I get started?

If you are interested in training your dog to become a service dog, you can start one of two ways:

  1. Sign up for orientation and begin attending either puppy or level 1 class. Once you and your dog have a good understanding of the 5 basic behaviors, you may begin attending our CGC/Therapy/Service Dog monthly class.
  2. Set up a private service dog lesson by calling our main line at 412-364-4122.

What tests do you require service dogs to take?

There are three benchmarks that teams must pass. The Canine Good Citizen (CGC) test is first, the Misty Pines Therapy Dog (MPTD) test is second and the Public Access Test is last. The Public Access Test is a challenging final exam set in a real-world environment, evaluated by one of our professional trainers. The CGC/Therapy/Service Dog Preparation Class is held once a month and designed to prepare teams for each test level. Service dog teams will use this class to improve their skills around distractions as they continue to prepare for the offsite Public Access Test.

What is the difference between a Therapy Dog and a Service Dog? Can my dog be both?

A Therapy dog provides support to other people. Therapy dogs visit nursing homes, hospitals, and many other places to provide comfort and joy to those around them. Therapy Dogs do not have public access rights.

A Service Dog will help their owner to live an easier life by mitigating disabilities through task training.  These tasks vary greatly from person to person, and a teams medical note must reflect the specific disability which they are requesting a service dog for. The general public is not to distract an on-duty service dog, and service dogs are granted public access rights.

Although service dogs can also be therapy dogs, it is not always recommended. Teams who express interest in both areas will be approved on a case by case basis at the discretion of our trainers and evaluators.

Can you guarantee my dog will become a service dog?

Training a dog for service work is an extensive process with many factors involved. It is not possible to guarantee that your dog will make it. Even very well-behaved dogs may not have the fortitude to handle service work. This does not stop them from being the best pet they can be, and we will continue to help you in achieving that.

Do you train Emotional Support Animals?

No. Emotional Support Animals (ESAs) are not service dogs and do not have Public Access rights.

What documentation do we need to provide?

  1. Proof of a need for a service dog by a licensed medical professional
  2. Proof that the dog is insured
  3. Up to date vaccination status outlined by Misty Pines. All dogs must be current on Rabies, DHPP, and Bordetella (Bordetella every 6 months) vaccinations. The Leptosporosis (Lepto/L) vaccine is not required, however, Misty Pines highly recommends that your dog receives it. All pets must have received inoculations at least 10 days prior to their visit to Misty Pines. The waiting period will allow your dog to build sufficient immunity to the vaccinations which will make your dog less susceptible to catching or transferring any unwanted viruses.

What if I have any more questions about service dogs?

Please visit the ADA FAQ website for more information: