Cost (price) of a service dog

While the average cost (price) to train a service dog in 2021 is almost $40,000* (this is the same for all nonprofit service dog organizations). At Pawsitivity, while there is an income-based sliding-scale fee because that policy keeps the process sustainable, scholarships (up to 100%) are available.

*Source: Coutts, Jason. “Cost of Canine Program Across the United States.” Syracuse, New York: American Society of Canine Trainers, 2012: 24.

Fundraising Requirements for Recipients

Training service dogs is a costly undertaking. The national average cost for raising and training a service dog—which takes into account the initial costs of acquiring the dog, medical and veterinary care, paying the trainers a living wage, supporting the dog/handler team for a decade, buying food and equipment, continuing education for the trainer, etc.—is $39,000. This is the average it costs any organization in the U.S. if that seems high, remember that half to three-quarters of service dogs “fail out”, and the expenses of the failed-out dogs must be borne by the ones that go through the entire program. So each dog that passes might have only cost the organization $17.5k, but a full $39k must be raised to cover the loss.

Each organization has different fundraising requirements for the recipient of a service dog:

1 – Some organizations are so well established that they don’t ask the handler/family to do any fundraising. The organization does all the fundraising (at Pawsitivity, we use a sliding scale, so if the client is low-income, the cost is minimal or none).

2 – Some organizations ask the handler/family to do about half the fundraising.

3 – Some organizations ask the handler/family to do all the fundraising.

Is the Cost Worth It?

Studies say yes: “In addition to the contributions service dogs can make toward a higher level of independence, service dogs are also a cost-effective form of assistance” these studies have found that of only are people able to stop using “at least one assistive device because of the help of their service dog”, but also, paid human assistance significantly decreased.