How should I use this evaluation?
Use this evaluation to help you decide whether or when a dog might be ready to move from training in pets-allowed places to training in no-pets places as a service dog in training (as local laws or permissions allow).
This Service Dog in Training (SDIT) Manners Evaluation is not intended to address disability mitigation training (as opposed to public access and obedience behaviors), to provide a PSDP stamp of approval or guarantee, or to be shown to gatekeepers to help one gain access to no-pets places. Instead, it is primarily a tool to help in training a dog toward more advanced Public Access Test standards.
Why did PSDP create this manners evaluation?
For decades, our community has used outside tests designed for pet dogs to help us mark progress along the earlier stages of a service dog training journey. These tests worked okay as vague milestones, but weren’t tailored to service dog training, weren’t great for detailing how test-takers could make improvements, and were associated with an unnecessarily costly corporate structure.
We designed a Service Dog in Training (SDIT) Manners Evaluation to do better. If you’re training a dog to be a service dog, our SDIT Manners Evaluation can help you:
• decide whether the dog is ready for public access as an SDIT, as local laws allow
• chart training progress
• create additional records that may be useful in the future if you have to be involved in a court case over an access issue
• avoid unnecessary fees—we recommend having a professional trainer administer this evaluation for any formal records, but it is otherwise free to use (of course, donations are welcome!)
How should I take the evaluation?
PSDP does not administer the SDIT Manners Evaluation, though it is administered by experienced trainers/service dog handlers at our psychiatric service dog convention. Often, individuals hire a regular, local professional dog trainer to give the test.
However, formal qualifications are not an absolute requirement for testers. What matters most is that the tester is able to knowingly evaluate the team based on the criteria, which does require experience with dog training and dog body language.
Any training evaluation is only as valuable as the ability and accuracy of the tester. We advise that when teams take the SDIT Manners Evaluation, they have a third person record the process on video. This can provide valuable feedback for future training. Further, in case a team is ever forced to go to court, a video record is an independent way of showing that the team accomplished what the tester indicates they did.
What does it look like to take the manners evaluation?
The “SDIT Manners Evaluation in 60 seconds” video below is a quick series of video snapshots capturing the SDIT Manners Evaluation activities (not guidelines). Intended to be informative—or at least entertaining—it’s not a how-to for the test.
This evaluation was developed initially by PSDP’s Board of Directors in 2018, then vetted with the aid of public beta-testing feedback in early 2019. We are grateful for our community’s assistance in strengthening this resource for those to come.