If you are interested in applying to become a Certified Service Dog (CSD) Team, we encourage you to become familiar with the guidelines in our CSD Team Manual Nov 2021 An application (to be submitted by mail) can be found in the back of the manual. Below, we provide additional information to help you with the application and testing process.
The FSDS defines a “team” as ONE dog and ONE person. The FSDS will only certify ONE dog per person, and ONE person per dog.
Note: To locate an approved Evaluator in your area, please visit our Locate an Evaluator page. If the Evaluator you wish to test with in not listed on our site, then please notify us immediately and DO NOT agree to pay a fee for testing. Also note that all certification materials will be issued by the FSDS, and not individual Evaluators.
The FSDS does not have any Evaluators outside of the U.S., nor do we at this time have any other “schools” or training centers outside of our program located in the Phoenix Metropolitan area. If you are approached by any individual or organization claiming to be an FSDS training program outside of our area please notify us immediately.
Qualifications for teams to take the CSD Test
- The dogs must have passed the Canine Good Citizen Test (or equivalent) no earlier than their first birthday. If a dog has taken and passed the test prior to the first birthday, then the test must be taken again.
- The dog must be at least 18 months of age.
- The dog must have their current County license tag as well as their name and phone number identification tag displayed on their collar.
- The dog must have proof of up to date vaccination, spay or neuter and a letter from a veterinarian (dated within 30 days of test) stating that the dog is in good health and able to perform their service duties.
- The dog must have been trained to perform service tasks related to hearing impairment, mobility impairment, medical alert or psychological assistance. This test is not designed to certify guide dogs for the blind.
- The dog must be clean and properly groomed.
- The dog must attain a minimum adult weight of 50 lbs; NO purse dogs permitted.
- The handler must have a letter from their treating physician simply stating that they are being treated for a disabling medical condition. The FSDS does not require any individual or their treating physician to disclose the nature of the disability.
Due to recent questions, we reinforce here the information contained in our CSD Team Manual: No retractable leashes or backpacks of any type are permitted. Videotapes of a dog performing tasks are not permissible. No exceptions.
Teams that are certified through the FSDS must re-test every 3 years in order to maintain their certification as current. We recognize that not all handlers have the luxury of aging in place, and must sometimes relocate due to job or the need to be near family to obtain needed help due to their disabilities. With most traditional SD training programs, a program will re-test only those teams that they have trained and certified. This leaves those who must relocate without viable options for maintaining their certification.
Teams who certify with the FSDS are eligible to re-test with any FSDS Evaluator in the U.S. This provides a pathway for those teams to maintain their certification as current and enjoy the benefits of certification.
Guidelines for submitting your application
There has been considerable confusion lately regarding the submission of application materials. It is important that you read the entire CSD Team Manual BEFORE filling out the application. Please pay particular attention to the following:
- Download the cover page and read carefully, check the boxes as you have completed the items.
- Mail all application materials to us in the SAME envelope.
- Do not forget to include the application processing fee of $10 as well as the $250 fee to enroll in the required SD 101 online course.
- When designating an alternate caregiver, DO NOT list yourself; an alternate caregiver is someone who will watch your dog for you in the event that illness or injury (i.e. hospitalization) requires that you are temporarily separated from your dog.
- DO NOT attempt to take the test before you submit the application and complete the SD 101 course. First you must submit an application, then you must complete the SD 101: Orientation course online. Once this is completed you will be issued a test ticket. No ticket, no test- no exceptions.
- You have 30 days from the time you receive the test ticket to complete the test.
- Team Photo- the instructions are to provide a head shot, this means that we are looking for a close-up from the shoulders up of you and your dog together. Please do not provide us with a thumbnail photo of you and your dog together from a distance.
- Finally- do not wait until the last minute. You must now take the SD 101 course if you have not done so in the past and must allow time to successfully complete this training prior to testing. We recommend that you allow yourself 16 additional weeks so that there will be no lapse in certification.
If at any time you are unclear on instructions. feel free to contact us using the form at the bottom of the page.
Final application steps
If you meet the criteria, you will be given a test ticket and permitted to take the certification test. We provide a map of available evaluators to help you locate one near you.
You must complete testing within 30 days of when your test ticket is issued. Do not attempt to schedule a test prior to receiving your ticket. No ticket, no test- no exceptions.
Once you have passed the test, you will be eligible to obtain a program vest and identification card. It is our belief that privately trained teams that demonstrate an ability to work up to standards should enjoy the same benefits as program trained dogs.
Note- Do not submit the $50 testing fee with your application. The $50 test fee is separate and must be paid directly to your Evaluator, not to the FSDS. The fee for certification materials is to be paid to the FSDS only after you have passed the test and received your proof of passing form. Please read application materials carefully for instructions. Thank you.
Privately trained does not imply poorly trained. We recognize the long hours of work that you have put into your training and applaud your desire to achieve certification.
For inquiries, feel free to email us directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.