Melissa Mitchell chose Bastien in part because his Newfoundland/ Australian shepherd mix predisposed him to being gentle, medium-sized and energetic.

Melissa Mitchell chose Bastien in part because his Newfoundland/ Australian shepherd mix predisposed him to being gentle, medium-sized and energetic.

Starting with three basic commands and generous time and attention — and lots of biscuits and kisses — you can train your four-legged friend to eventually become the best medical device you have. Owner-training the dog eliminates time wasted on training school waiting lists and creates a steady routine of challenging your dog to learn new tasks as your needs change. Depending on your lifestyle and dog knowledge, there are several ways to owner-train your service dog.

One night several months ago, Melissa Mitchell, of Eugene, Ore., was aroused from sleep by her dog, Bastien, who was whining and running in circles. Because Bastien was usually calm, Mitchell knew something was wrong and thought she had better get him outside, so she pulled on her robe and opened her bedroom door. Out in the apartment hallway, the fire alarm was blaring an evacuation warning. Mitchell hadn’t heard a thing while in her bedroom.

“High-pitched alarms and noises are very painful to dogs,” says Mitchell, who trained Bastien since puppyhood. “I’d have fire drills wi