Exercise. All dogs need physical exercise and mental stimulation for their health, but these requirements are especially important for a highly intelligent, working dog. If partnered with a Next Step Service Dog, you will need to provide, at the minimum, a one-hour brisk walk, 20-30 minutes of vigorous play, and 20-30 minutes of training for the dog each day. If you are physically incapable of exercising the dog, you will need to make arrangements for someone else to do so. Letting the dog out in a yard does not constitute adequate exercise.
Supervision. Next Step Service Dogs requires their clients to keep the dog leashed or supervised within a safely enclosed area at all times when outside. We do not permit electronic fencing and do not condone the use of dog parks for socialization or exercise.
Grooming. Keeping the dog well groomed is another requirement of partnership with a Next Step Service Dog. If you cannot bathe and groom the dog yourself, you will need to determine where you will take it to be groomed and also consider the expense of such services. Public consideration is important here.
Veterinary care. Regular veterinary care is also essential. You will be expected to adhere to our recommended checkup and vaccination schedule to maintain your dog’s health. You will also be required to keep your dog current on monthly parasite prevention medications.
Food and equipment. A good quality food will be essential in maintaining a healthy weight for the dog (we will provide recommendations). Your Next Step Service Dog will be sent home with essential equipment such as a crate, collar and leash, vest and training equipment. Over time this equipment may need to be replaced and that would be your responsibility after certification.
If you are training your personal dog, NSSD will supply the equipment your trainer recommends.
Annual cost. In all, you can expect to spend an average of $1,000 – $1,500 per year over a typical 10 to 12-year lifespan not including veterinary care.
Family Commitment. It is also important to consider the commitment other family members will have to make to your Next Step Service Dogs partnership. They may need to assist you in caring for your dog at times. They will always need to be supportive of your relationship with the dog, agree not to interfere with the dog’s training or the work it performs for you, adhere to rules and expectations regarding the dog’s behavior, and respect the bond between you and your Next Step Service Dog.