Cell Dogs will help you certify your Emotional Support Animal (ESA) as a Service Dog

This program is offered for canines that are currently ESA-certified by a licensed psychologist or psychiatrist.

Cell Dogs’ training program addresses the airline industry’s new regulations regarding the travel of ESAs.

In 2021, the airline industry implemented a strict set of guidelines stating that only service dogs, trained by recognized organizations and trainers, were permitted on airplanes free of charge. ESAs are no longer permitted to fly for free in the open cabin and will have to be crated.

This new mandate created an opportunity for Cell Dogs to develop a customized evaluation and training program for individuals who truly need their ESA/pet dogs to accompany them in public. These individuals had letters from their licensed mental health professionals verifying their need.

The initial evaluations were eye-opening for our clients. Since they hadn’t realized the stringent requirements for fully-trained service dogs, they recognized the need for a customized training program to achieve that level of competency.

All our clients were committed to getting their dog appropriately trained. This entailed 3–4 months of training sessions and the successful passing of a recognized Public Access Test. Confident that their dogs were well trained and socialized for all types of public environments, we were happy to sign the required Department of Transportation (DoT) documents for them. (To maintain that level of training, all clients will be re-evaluated each year to obtain a new set of authorized DoT documents.)

The price for the evaluation and final Public Access Test (PAT) certification is $750. There are additional fees for any training sessions necessary to pass the PAT. Please contact our office for additional pricing: info@celldogs.org.

Frequently Asked Questions

Please read the below in its entirety as it provides guidance for your next steps.

Out of State and non-local inquiries

Unfortunately, since this is a specialized program which requires in-person meetings and lessons, we are unable to offer our services outside of Southern California. Our apologies for this inconvenience. For the initial assessment and consequent training plan, we need to assess the dog’s temperament, sociability, and training prowess to determine if they are a suitable candidate and what additional training is required to meet service dog standards.

We understand that the need is great, and we recommend the following steps:

  • Find a local AKC (American Kennel Club) approved Canine Good Citizen (CGC) evaluator and have your dog evaluated. Many trainers at your local Petco store also offer this service. This evaluation will provide the information you need to determine whether your dog is a good candidate for service and how much training will be required to meet and exceed the CGC criteria.
  • If your dog does well and you want to move forward, please search apdt.com, to find a credentialed CPDT trainer in your area. Use the advanced search option to find a trainer for your specific needs.

We apologize for the disappointing news and hope the above information is helpful!

ESA certification

Our program is offered for canines that are currently ESA certified by a licensed psychologist or psychiatrist.

Young dogs

Most young puppies would not be appropriate for this program. It takes 1½–2 years for a dog to fully mature. During that time, you can certainly focus your attention on socializing your pup around lots of people, places, things, and other animals while perfecting their obedience skills.

Dog temperament

Please be advised that for an ESA to qualify for Service Dog ‘status’ they must:

  • Have an exceptional and well-balanced temperament as this is the KEY CRITERIA in determining if they have the potential to become a working service dog.
  • Be well-socialized and very well-mannered around all people, dogs, and children in all types of public environments, regardless of weather they are well-behaved in your home.

U.S. Department of Transportation requirements and forms

You will find U.S. Department of Transportation requirements and forms here.


Our cost for the initial evaluation and the final assessment is $750.

  • $500 for the initial evaluation, paid at the time of the evaluation
  • $250 at the time of the final evaluation, regardless of the outcome

After the evaluation, we will discuss the outcome and determine a path forward for your dog.

If your dog has the potential to be trained for service, most dogs will require months of extensive training to achieve the desired goal. The cost for customized training is NOT included in the quoted price. The full cost of additional training will depend on the amount of required training and your commitment to reach your goals. Our trainers are happy to work with you and your dog and can discuss a path forward and pricing.

Going forward

If you believe that your ESA would be a good candidate to become a Service Dog, please send an email to info@celldogs.org with the following information.

  1. Your contact information (name, email, phone number, and address)
  2. Your dog’s information (name, age, breed, description of previous training)

We will then schedule a date for the evaluation. Payment is due at the time of the evaluation. Following the evaluation, a training plan and a timeline can be discussed.

If you have any additional questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.