Owner/Self Trainer Training

The Midnight Sun Service Dogs Owner/Self-Training Service Dog course is designed to train clients and their own dogs that have completed the Owner/Self-Training application process. Self training your own service dog is an in-depth process requiring great discipline. Please review all the information to determine whether it is something you feel you and your dog would  like to pursue. The application is a standard piece of the MSSD process, to assess and meet identified client needs.

After a thorough application and interview/evaluation of both the client and their dog has been completed, accepted client/dog teams are enrolled into the MSSD Owner/Self-Training Course. This weekly training is taught in Anchorage for a minimum of 40 weeks, during which client/owner and dog are trained in service dog behaviors, commands and  service dog management skills. Successful graduates pass the ADI Public Access certification test. Some client/owner/dog teams require more extensive training, and that is determined during the course.

If you do not already have a dog to train with and are interested in doing a self trainer course, MSSD will assist you in finding a dog/puppy that will best be suited for your specific need. These dogs can come from a variety of sources such as, MSSD puppy raisers, breeders, local shelters and such.

If owner/self trainer is has more than 2 consecutive unexcused absences from training, MSSD may required them to re-enter program from beginning.


  1. Service Dog Application
  2. An appointment with the MSSD staff with your dog, for assessments and evaluations. Both you and your dog must demonstrate the appropriate interests, temperaments and attributes to be successful candidates.
  3. Completed Program Application.
  4. Doctor Form to be completed by your physician or primary care specialist. ( If you are training a dog to be used for the therapeutic program for MSSD you do not need the Doctor Form)
  5. A picture of yourself and your dog.
  6. A signed copy of MSSD Privacy Policy.
  7. Dog Medical History Health Statement Form, to be completed by your veterinarian.
  8. MSSD Waiver
  9. MSSD Photo Release

Frequently Asked Questions

Owner Self Training has been designed to help clients train their own dog for service work and gain necessary service dog handling skills. While this may be a good choice for some people with disabilities needing the help of a service dog, it is not for everyone.

Here are some very important points to consider in deciding whether MSSD Owner Self Training may be the right choice:

How is the Owner Self Training Course structured?

  • When enrolled, the self trainer and dog meet with an MSSD instructor once a week for one hour, for a minimum of 40 weeks. During these sessions, self trainers are taught how to train their dogs to perform a variety of tasks that have been identified to support the specific disability, along with the obedience skills and behaviors necessary for public access.
  • Self trainers are assigned homework training each week, along with suggestions for socialization activities. Additional resources for training information are provided as needed. Throughout the course, self trainer/dog team progress is assessed at 30-day intervals; to be sure training is achieved at the expected rate, as well as to provide final assessments of task training and public access skills.

What is the time commitment needed for this training?

  • The time commitment required for Owner Self Training is considerable. It is expected that the Self Trainer will work with their dog (and document in a log) every day, a minimum of two 15 minute formal sessions. In addition, self trainers should plan on spending 3-5 hours per week training and socializing their dog in public settings. Of course, dogs learn constantly, so ongoing attention to appropriate behavior at home and away are also required.

With all this work, is it guaranteed that an Owner Self Trained dog will become a service dog with public access?

  • Unfortunately, there is no guarantee that a self trainer/dog team will “graduate”. The standards for behavior for public access are very high, and most dogs do not have the correct temperament for this type of work. While MSSD will make every effort to evaluate each dog’s suitability before training begins, behavior issues may emerge during the course that will prevent achieving public access. This is particularly true if the dog is a puppy, as it is difficult to assess a dog’s true temperament at an early age.

What sorts of clients are most successful in the Owner Self Training Course?

  • Because of the time and effort involved in training, it is crucial that the process be enjoyable for both self trainer and dog. If you have already trained dogs, and know that you will enjoy daily training sessions, then the chances of successfully completing the course are better. If you have no previous training experience, we strongly suggest that you try a class with your dog at an MSSD training session, to see if training is something you both like doing.

What sorts of dogs are most successful in the Owner Self Training Course?

  • Many different breeds of dog have gone through the Owner Self Training Course. There are specific temperaments and characteristics that increase the chance for training a successful service dog, and dogs should ideally start training no later than the age of two. Since it takes at least one year to train a service dog, and the dog will want to work the longest amount of time possible, younger is better. MSSD can share more specific details upon request.

Please contact info@midnightsunservicedogs.org to request an application packet or call the office listed under the Contact Us page.

The Americans with Disabilities Law is very clear with stating that individuals may train there own service dogs:

Americans with Disabilities Act ( ADA) Title III, 28 CFR Section 36.104, defines a service animal as any animal that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for a person with a disability. Individuals under this law can be accompanied by their service animal in public places. The ADA does not require “certification” or proof of the service dog’s training (see also ACAA of 1986).

Alaska Statutes Interference with rights of physically or mentally challenged person.

ADA allows any person with a disability train their own service animal. The law does not require that the animal be registered with any program, organization, state or local agency.

AS 11.76.133 Interference with the training of a service Animal (a) A person commits the crime of interference with the training of a service animal if the person intentionally prevents or restricts a person who is authorized to train a service animal from being accompanied by an animal that is identified as being in training to be a service animal or assesses an extra charge because of the animal in a public facility except as provided in the (b) and (c) of this section.

It is the vision of Midnight Sun Service Dogs to help guide self trainers of service dogs through this process with educational materials, resources, training classes and support groups.

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