What is the Outreach Certification Program?
This program is designed to place a means to achieve credible certification within the grasp of privately trained teams who demonstrate an ability to function in accordance with the Code of Conduct established by the FSDS. We believe that the gold standard for certification should be in-person testing, and by building a network of qualified evaluators across the nation we are able to reach out to distant teams. In the past, credible certification has only been available to those teams who received training through a pre-existing program, leaving privately trained teams with either no certification, or relegated to businesses that advertise certification, sight unseen, for a fee.
What are the benefits of certification?
Though not required under law, in some instances certification can be beneficial.
- Certification increases public confidence in teams.
- Certification increases confidence of current or future employers and helps to smooth the transition into the workplace.
- Certification provides assurance to evacuation shelters, so that in times of disaster the authenticity of your service dog team will not be questioned.
- Certification is beneficial when answering any legal questions regarding your service dog: though the law provides for public access for service dogs, you may be required to provide proof that the dog in question is actually a service dog.
Who is Eligible to Apply to the Outreach Certification Program?
Private Trainers Who Wish to Become Evaluators
Experienced private trainers are eligible to become Service Dog Evaluators through our network. These individuals are available to administer the certification test, in person, to those teams that have completed their team training with a private instructor. Our Evaluator Guide describes the application requirements and testing procedures.
Teams Seeking Certification
Individuals who have received proper team training and wish to become a certified team may apply to take the service dog certification test with one of our Outreach Evaluators. All applicants should familiarize themselves with our CSD Team Manual.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Effective June 1, 2015 all teams seeking certification must successfully complete the online SD 101: Orientation Course. This requirement strengthens the meaning of certification, ensuring that all FSDS team handlers have received the same training, regardless of whether they are trained through our in-house or outreach programs. All applications postmarked on or after June 1st, 2015 will be subject to the new rule.