3 Steps To A Finished Service Dog
- 1Choose a training protocol.
- 2Decide on your budget and choose an Open Range Service Dog Program.
- 3Finish your pup with Open Range's Online Pup Academy.
Set Your Training Protocol
Your budget will be greatly affected by the amount of training you and your house are willing to take on. Open Range has created a program for people whose financial situation is limited or for those who have ample time and the willingness to learn how to become a "handler"; this program is called Open Range Online Pup Academy. The Online Pup Academy can help you with choosing the right dog and training the dog from zero-to-hero.
In addition to the Open Range Pup Academy we have our main in house Service Dog training protocol called Open Range Service Dog Academy. The Service Dog Academy is split into 3 phases. Each phase is designed to accomplish major milestones in the behavior and task developments of each pup in our care. To make it simple lets break it down and you can read more about each phase on their relative pages.
- 1Phase 1: Starts at 8 weeks and lasts 16 weeks long, the pup will be 6 months old at completion. The content of the phase is to "shape" early puppy behavior and to train necessary obedience skills that will qualify the pup to take and pass the Canine Good Citizen Test at 1 year of age.
- 2Phase 2: Starts at completion of Phase 1 and lasts 16 weeks. In Phase 2 Open Range concentrates on puppy socialization, performing tasks, and maintaining behavior in public places (parks, grocery stores, department stores, etc.). During this phase Open Range will expose the pup to 20+ hours of rigorous public training protocols. The pup will learn to apply the same obedience and behavior training from Phase 1 in stressed and un-stressed public environments. In addition Open Range will work on "duration" of obedience commands. Duration is the length that a pup will hold a command before moving or being "released", the end goal through Pase 3 is that a pup will not move from a command without being "released".
- 3Phase 3: Starts at completion of Phase 2 and lasts 16 weeks, the pup will be 14 months old at completion of Phase 3. Phase 3 will concentrate on condition specific "modules". These modules can be custom tailored to meet your needs and requirements.
Through the Open Range Service Dog Academy you can sign up for any number of phases but you must start and pay for phases in sequential order. If you are willing to dedicate your time and resources to the Online Pup Academy Training so that you may become a proficient "handler" than you will be able to take a pup that has completed any series of phases in the Service Dog Academy and finish the dog yourself or pick up where Open Range left off.
With the Open Range training programs and protocols we have attempted to create a standard for training while also allowing the client to meet their budgetary goals. The longer you can leave a pup in the trained hands of an Open Range handler the better foundation your mature pup will have. Open Range also believes that in many scenarios (when applicable) it is actually in the customers best interest to finish a dog themselves. When the client (and household members) apply their time to becoming great "handlers" and than finish phase protocol training at home the pup will create a stronger bond through the training process and will truly learn your needs and will be able to respond to your needs more quickly and efficiently.
To sum up; combine any number of Phase training with the self paced Online Academy Training and you can build a program that fits your budget while providing your pup with the best service foundation offered by Open Range Pups.
Set A Budget For Training
Open Range desires to help individuals and families no matter what the financial capabilities of each household is. Even when working with a non-profit the average cost to the client is $17,000+. There are only a handful of zero cost non-profits in the US and most have a waiting list that exceeds 2 years. The other caveat with non-profits is they generally open spots to the most severe cases first. We understand how difficult it can be to get financing for your service dog and we are here to help.
For those clients who are looking to pay out of pocket we will cover your tax benefits plus the Open Range Puppy Portal and how it helps you know your investment is in the right hands.
Knowing The Cost
*Puppy Play Time is a no-work environment for your puppy to act like a puppy and still learn appropriate behavioral skills. Relieve stress, get rid of energy, learn etiquette behavior, get comfortable in different public settings, outings in marketplaces, and more.
Setting A Budget
Open Range doesn't advise anyone to set a budget that will place un-desirable financial stress on yourself or your home. This is exactly why Open Range has created a series of products that fit most financial circumstances, starting with the Online Pup Academy at just $15-$25 p/m.
Remember when adding costs you should include yearly maintenance like food, veterinary visits, and even pup insurance. Go ahead and add up your fixed and monthly costs:
Get Financing Assistance
There are very few ways to receive financing for your Service Dog. Let's take a look:
- 1Get your pup through a non-profit. Non-profits (if approved) will cover costs ranging from zero-cost-to-client all the up to $20K+ cost-to-client. This non-profit resource directory may help you find types of financing through non-profit agencies throughout the US - My Assistance Dog. Remember there are many down sides to non-profits which include; long waiting lists, selective client list, and similar costs to for-profit programs. There are many benefits as well which include; specialists for specific service dogs, high quality and standards (like Open Range), and if approved you could save thousands.
- 2Get private financing through credit cards, personal loans, or peer-to-peer lending. Open Range recommends SoFi personal loan financing with terms as low as 5.5% and 7 years.
- 3Local hospitals have some programs in their Human Resource departments that may help individuals obtain financing through their medical networks.
- 4Open Range in-house financing. Open Range will be opening it's doors to in-house financing in 2018. Rates will not compete with SoFi but we will offer 12-15% interest on 3-7 year loans. Open Range requires 50% down payment on the service required and will not require a credit check. This option may help you finish partial financing from SoFi or other financing options while providing you a lower cost and longer term option compared to credit cards. We are the only program in the US that offers such a program.
If you plan on paying any amount of the costs for your service dog out of pocket than you should know your tax rights. You may be eligible to write off the costs of your service "DOG". This includes any costs, such as food, grooming, and veterinary care, incurred in maintaining the health and vitality your Service Dog so that it may perform its duties.
In general, you may be able to write off expenses for a service animal who is specially trained to alleviate or cure your medical condition. Guide dogs for the blind are an obvious example. So are service animals for the hearing impaired, who alert their humans when the doorbell rings or the oven timer goes off.
But here's an example of a dog who would not qualify for a deduction: the pet dog of a family with an autistic child. Even if the dog spends time with the child and seems to calm him down, the IRS would not consider this dog a deductible service animal because she isn't certified to alleviate that medical condition. The way the math works is that having a medical condition plus having a pet does not equal a deductible animal. So what is the equation missing? Training and certification. The golden rule is that you need to be able to prove a close tie between the medical condition and what the trained animal does to alleviate it.
What can you write off? What's eligible for a tax deduction falls under two categories: acquisition and maintenance. The year you acquire the dog, you can write off the cost of buying her. Every year during the life of the dog, you can write off expenses for her maintenance. That includes products and services like veterinary care, food, toys, grooming and training. The dog's veterinary checkup, a leash, her rabies vaccine — those all qualify as deductible expenses.
Now, not every taxpayer is even eligible to write off these costs, because the IRS has a 10 percent floor on medical expenses. We'll translate that for you: You can only deduct these costs if they exceed 10 percent of your annual income. The thinking behind this is that if your income is high enough, you can afford your medical expenses (including your service dog) without government assistance, so you don't get to write them off.
So now you're asking, "What if these expenses are less than 10 percent of my income? Do I get no help at all?" Not so fast. There is a second way to pay for service dog costs, and that's with money from your flexible spending account (FSA) or health savings account (HSA), if you have either one. There's no 10 percent floor if you want to use FSA or HSA money to pay for your service dog, and, hey, using pretax money to pay these bills is better than paying completely out of pocket, right?
What documents do you need?
What will you need to provide to your accountant when filing your taxes, or if you get audited? You should keep these documents:
- Records of the training that the dog received
- Documentation of any certifications the dog has earned
- Receipts for your purchase of the service animal, plus receipts for all of her expenses
We would also recommend documentation from a doctor or medical provider that explains how a service animal helps you alleviate your medical condition. So if you have a guide dog, you should keep a doctor's statement of the fact that you are visually impaired, for instance, along with certification that your dog has been trained as a guide dog, and receipts to prove the amount of money you spent to buy and care for the dog.
Protect Your Investment w/ Open Range Puppy Portal
The Open Range Puppy Portal helps you know that your investment is in the right hands. We take this service seriously and to show it we have developed the Puppy Portal. This takes our service 1 step further by providing you with "proof" of your pups progress. How do we do this? We provide you weekly improvement report cards through the Puppy Portal, weekly training videos, live streaming training sessions, daily activity display shows when your pup starts working everyday and who they are working with, we provide you weekly pictures, veterinary docs and updates, and you can even chat with the staff working with your Service Dog.
Finish Your Training
Once you have acquired financing to complete the Phases of training you wish Open Range to perform for you than you can use the Online Pup Academy to document the number of hours you spend training your pup, print course completion certificates, and advance your pup to any level of performance that is right for you.