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In-Person Service Dog Training vs. Virtual Service Dog Training: Which Suits You Best?

Service dogs are amazing companions that provide support to individuals with disabilities, aiding them in navigating daily life with confidence and independence. However, many people who could benefit from a service dog need guidance and support in order to train a dog to the level that is expected of a dog working in public places.


A light yellow dog on a carpet.

According to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), anyone with an eligible disability has the civil right to bring a service dog into any public accommodations (restaurants, entertainment venues, stores, educational institutions, etc.). Businesses cannot charge an additional fee or treat the owner differently providing the animal is a trained service dog.


Compass Key offers individual service dog training to people who already have a dog they believe may be suited to work as a service dog, and trainers can also help select a dog to train.


Compass Key offers many flexible training modalities, such as in-person service dog training with one of our trainers at numerous national locations, virtual service dog training, or a combination of both. Both modalities have their benefits and drawbacks. Let's compare both to determine which might be the best fit. 


What Is In-Person Service Dog Training?


In-person training provides hands-on, direct guidance from professional service dog trainers. These sessions can either be private lessons or group training. In-person lessons can occur at your home, our facility (available at the Southeastern PA and Northern VA branches only) or at various public locations in your community.


Benefits of In-Person Service Dog Training:


  • Personalized Attention: Direct interaction with a service dog trainer provides individualized feedback and guidance tailored to your individual dog and needs.

  • Real-Time Feedback: Immediate feedback from your trainer on your handling skills and dog’s behavior aids in faster learning and reinforces positive habits.

  • Socialization Opportunities: Dogs will be exposed to different environments and distractions, which aids in socialization skills crucial for their role.


What Is Virtual Service Dog Training?


Virtual service dog training can be offered via video calls and instructional materials. At Compass Key, virtual lessons are conducted via a video conferencing platform (Google Meet, Zoom, FaceTime, etc.). This approach offers flexibility and convenience, allowing training sessions in the comfort of your own home.


Benefits of Virtual Service Dog Training:


  • Flexible Scheduling: Training sessions can be better accommodated to various time zones and individual schedules.

  • Cost-Effectiveness: Virtual training often incurs lower fees compared to in-person sessions.

  • Accessible: You’ll get access to top-notch service dog training regardless of location.


A golden retriever, a pug, and a fluffy white dog looking up.


How Do I Choose the Right Approach?


Deciding between in-person and virtual service dog training hinges on several factors. First, consider your dog’s personality and needs. For instance, if you have a new puppy that needs to work on the basics first in low distractions environments, virtual service dog training could serve as the better option. You should also consider your own schedule and accessibility. For instance, if you know your Wi-Fi isn’t the best, or you live rurally, then in-person dog training could be right for you. Last, think about budget, as in-person training often entails higher costs.


Whichever route you choose, service dog training is a vital investment in your service dog journey, and Compass Key Service Dog Training is here to support your journey through in-person and virtual dog training for service dogs, or a combination of both!


Learn more about our training services for service dogs and contact us to get started! For training pricing, see our cost estimates. Have any questions? Visit our FAQ page for more information about our service dog training.

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