History of Service Dogs & Service Dog Training

Service dogs undergo specialized service dog training in order to serve their masters faithfully. If you’re considering opting for service dog training for your pet to obtain a service dog certification, then you may be interested in the history involving these extraordinary creatures.

Use of Service Dogs In Past Cultures

For as long as dogs and humans coexisted, dogs have been used by humans for providing aid. Ancient cultures typically used dogs for tracking and hunting, while the Aztecs believed that dogs were God sent to provide spiritual guidance to humankind. However, dogs have been used to provide military support services in many past cultures, including the army of the Roman Empire.

Modern Use of Service Dogs

The idea of service dogs was launched in Germany after the First World War. It had already been discovered that dogs could be used for assisting the blind as “seeing eye” dogs. Many returning war vets that had suffered eye injuries in combat, were provided these creatures as aides, which marked the very beginning of service dogs. Briefly thereafter, in 1929, the initial support pet for the blind association was proven in the United States. According to reports, service dog training was performed throughout the 1920’s and 1930’s.

It took a lot more than fifty years before the concept of using dogs more broadly than just helping the blind, started to develop. In the USA, throughout the early 1970’s, a drive was spearheaded to use dogs to assist people with physical disabilities. It had been observed that in some countries, donkeys, along with other animals, were used to assist people in moving from one place to the next. So why not use one of the most readily available domestic animals – dogs – for this specific task as well. With that, a team was established to pursue this endeavor. This eventually resulted in the first standard service dog training plan in the USA. Following this, dogs have been utilized in service assistance for people suffering hearing problems, seizures, and surprisingly also in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease and autism.

Growth of Service Dog Training

Service dog training has grown phenomenally since its humble beginnings following the First World War, to the vast variety of assistance features that are covered by service dog training courses today.

There has also been legislation implemented throughout the years that service dogs have provided assistance. The very first was the Air Carrier Access Act of 1986, which granted permission to allow service dogs on all USA airlines. This was followed by the Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988, which addressed discrimination in leasing  houses to people with disabilities who possessed service dogs. Then in 1990, practically all other conditions regarding the utilization of service dogs by individuals with disabilities were addressed by the Americans with Disabilities Act. These were three federal laws that attempted to ensure the utilization of service dogs and other support animals in the daily routine of people who are physically and/or mentally impaired.

We should be thankful for those that have pioneered the use of animals, particular dogs, to aid physically and mentally disabled people, as well as people with psychological issues. Service dog training courses, leading to service dog certification, have produced dogs that can be depended upon to faithfully serve people in times of need.

Check out Cooke Osborn’s Blog Service Dog Certification Tips for the latest info on service dog certification and service dog laws.

Medium Tether Tug Dog Toy
Image Credit: By Crjs452 (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons
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