Dog training isn't magic! Patience, education and time equals pawsitive results!

Assistive Paws - Service Dog Training in Columbia, SC


Service Dogs

Service dogs are defined in the Americans with Disabilities Act as dogs that are specifically trained to help people with disabilities. We help people with disabilities train their dog to assist them as a service dog.

We specialize in:

Psychiatric service dogs (PTSD)

Hearing dogs

Diabetic alert dogs

Service Dog, Therapy Dog and Emotional Support Dog (ESA) training in: Columbia, West Columbia, Lexington, Blythewood, Lake Carolina, Forest Acres, Lake Murray, Chapin, Elgin, Lugoff and the surrounding areas,

                                                                               CONTACT US! 

Emotional support Animal (ESA) Training

Emotional Support Animals are not the same as service dogs and are not allowed where pets are not permitted but may be allowed in the cabin of some airlines and in some types of no-pet housing.

We can assist with good manners via training for calmness during air travel  and dwelling in no-pet housing.

Phone Consultations

Receive guidance in selecting our below specialties for service work:

Psychiatric dog (PTSD)

Hearing dog

Diabetic Alert dog

Receive information about selecting and training your ESA or learn about service dog training.


  • Owner must be 18 years of age or older.
  • Able to attend training lessons 1.5 years or longer.
  • Able to commit daily time to practicing with your dog between appointments.
  • Have a disability as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act.
  • Aware that you may end up with a dog that can only help at home or in places pets are allowed.
  • Up to 50% of service dog candidates in programs are not able to complete training and work in places pets are not permitted.
  • Willing to wait until we evaluate your dog's suitability and help you train your dog foundation skills before putting service dog identification on your dog and before taking your dog to places pets are not permitted.
  • Have support from your licensed healthcare provider for use of a service dog. service dog training Columbia

Assistive Paws Service Dog Training in Columbia, SC

  • No history of aggression toward dogs, people or other animals.
  • Easily trained. A breed or mix likely to have characteristics suitable for service work such as Labrador and Golden retrievers. Eash dog is assessed as an individual but some breeds are more likely to exhibit characteristics suitable for service work than others.
  • No history of any serious behavior problems such as fear or separation anxiety.
  • Under age 4, physically healthy. 

About Service Dog Coaching (SDC)

Service dog training requires specific knowledge, skills and education that most pet dog trainers don't have. Partnering with the right dog training professional is essential to your success.

Service Dog Coaches  (SDCs) are uniquely qualified to work with people with disabilities training their own service dogs.

  • SDCs are accomplished professional trainers with a formal education in canine training and behavior, experience and a track record of success.
  • SDCs have completed an advanced, one- of- a- kind program that focuses on every facet of service dog training, including service dog laws, temperament selection, assistance task training, public-access training and working with people with disabilities.
  • SDCs understand that your dog is so much more than a "tool." SDCs follow a code of ethics and are committed to using science-based, positive training methods as recommended by the American Veterinary Society for Animal Behavior.

      SDC Code of Ethics

      Client Protections

  1. SDCs provide professional services to clients without discrimination based on age, race, ethnicity, religion, gender, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, or national origin.  
  2. SDCs respect the boundaries of their expertise. SDCs consult with healthcare providers (e.g., doctors, therapists, and rehabilitation professionals) when appropriate, for example, in the selection of service dog tasks.

       Dog Protections

  1. SDCs use dog training methods that emphasize rewarding desired behaviors and management to prevent unwanted behavior. They do not use or recommend aversive training tools or techniques, including, but not limited to, electronic (shock) collars, choke chains, prong collars, nor other pet correction tools.
  2. SDCs consider and provide for the behavioral, emotional, and physical needs of dogs in their work. They consider dogs’ welfare in all aspects of training and in selecting service dog tasks that are appropriate for the dog.
  3. SDCs educate clients on indications of stress in dogs and the importance of daily environmental enrichment, play, quiet rest, and unstructured downtime for service dogs.  
  4. SDCs respect the boundaries of their expertise. SDCs consult with and refer to veterinarians, veterinary behaviorists, and other qualified experts when appropriate. 

       Public Protections

  1. SDCs respect the rights of business owners and the public. SDCs consider the needs of the public and business owners in selecting and preparing service dogs and their handlers for public-access work. 


  1. SDCs exhibit professional conduct in their work. SDCs respect client confidentiality at all times. SDCs are cordial to colleagues in all forms of communication, including social media. 
  2. SDCs remain knowledgeable of and abide by laws that relate to their work. This includes federal and state laws pertaining to service dogs and service dogs in training.
  3. SDCs take reasonable measures for the safety of clients, dogs, and the public.
  4. SDCs avoid making claims about service dogs’ abilities, benefits, and training that are not been supported nor substantiated by scientific research. 
  5. SDCs show integrity in their business practices. They provide clients with accurate information on fees and do not guarantee training outcomes. 

       Service dog training and evaluation. 

  1. SDCs recognize that most pet dogs are not suited for public-access work.  Some dogs who are not appropriate for public-access work may be trained to perform tasks to help people with disabilities in their homes. SDCs recognize that for some people with disabilities an “at home only” service dog may provide invaluable support.  
  2. SDCs recognize that service dogs performing public-access work must be behaviorally and physically sound. SDCs carefully evaluate dogs selected for this rigorous work and refer to meaningful standards, including those delineated in the SDC program.
  3. SDCs recognize that service dogs must not exhibit aggressive, threatening, nor other potentially unsafe behavior. SDCs will not train a dog for service work if they are aware that the dog has also been trained for protection work. 
  4. SDCs acknowledge that service dogs must be adequately and appropriately trained and they carefully prepare dogs for this work. SDCs recognize that the initial service dog training process typically takes approximately 24 months.  Thereafter, regular and frequent maintenance training is required for the duration of the dog’s career.
  5. While SDCs may offer some education, consultation and training services online or remotely, SDCs recognize the limitations of this type of work. When working with service dog teams or teams in training, SDCs provide the vast majority of their training services in person. All evaluations/assessments and public access training are conducted in person.


Frequently Asked Questions about Service Animals and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

 Q: Are emotional support, therapy, comfort or companion animals considered service animals under the ADA?

  A: No. These terms are used to describe animals that describe comfort just by being with a person. Because they have not been trained to perform a specific job or task, they do not qualify as service animals under the ADA. Check the South Carolina laws pertaining to emotional support animals and public access.

Q: Does the ADA require service animals to be professionally trained?

A: No. People with disabilities have the right to train their dog themselves and are not required to use a professional service dog training program.

Q: Are service-animals-in-training considered service animals under the ADA?

A: No. Under the ADA, the dog must already be trained before it can be taken into public places. However, some state or local laws cover animals that are still in training. South Carolina laws allow public access to service- animals- in -training  with handler and or trainer.

Q: What questions can a covered entity's employees ask to determine if a dog is a service animal?

A: In situations where it is not obvious that the dog is a service animal, staff may ask only two specific questions:

1. Is the dog a service animal required because of a disability?

2. What work or task has the dog been trained to perform?

Staff are not allowed to request any documentation for the dog , require that the dog demonstrate its task or inquire about the nature of the person's disability.

Q: Do service animals have to wear a vest or patch or special harness identifying them as service animals?

A: No. The ADA does not require service animals to wear a vest, ID tag or specific harness.

Q: Does the ADA require that service animals be certified as service animals?

A: No. Covered entities may not require documentation, such as proof that the animal has been certified, trained or licensed as a service animal, as a condition for entry.

There are individuals and organizations that sell service animal certification or registration documents online. These documents do not convey any rights under the ADA and the Department of Justice does not recognize them as proof that the dog is a service animal.

The Protection & Advocacy System (P&A) has been serving South Carolina as an independent, statewide, non-profit corporation protecting and advancing the legal rights of people with disabilities since 1977. 

If you have questions concerning those rights and the laws here in South Carolina, we have provided their website below.

For more information concerning the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) we have provided several links below.

Our Process


Phone Consultation.

A 30 - 60 minute phone consultation is the first step in a possible two year process. During this consultation, we will discuss your needs, your dog's behavioral history and obedience level, tasks that you may need assistance with and answer any questions you may have.

Cost: Free

90 Minute Initial Observation of Your Dog.

We conduct this observation in person. We evaluate how your dog responds to things/people/animals in the environment as well as other new situations. This assists us in determining if your dog is ready to begin training in our service dog program.

Cost: $135.00

Service Training

Suitable training which may include private training as well as day training if needed. Task training and public access training which takes commitment and patience. The training process usually takes 1-2 years but could take longer.

Each phase of training is dependent upon your dogs qualifications.

Cost: $5000 - $8000  (Installments Accepted).

Service Support

Follow up support throughout your service dog's working career. Should you need additional task training or to brush - up on the tasks already trained.

Cost: $90 per hour