Simply being a paid member of the Dog Scouts of America does not automatically make your dog a Dog Scout. Until you and your dog have passed the Dog Scout certification criteria in front of a certified Scoutmaster or by video, your title (as the parent) is “Member of Dog Scouts.”
However, you do have the option to get the “Cadet Scout” title on your dog prior to passing the Dog Scout test. This option started in the summer of 2006. This title is honorary and shows your commitment to work with your dog so they can be a welcome member of society or even pass the Dog Scout test in the future. It also represents your commitment to responsible dog parenting and you can call yourself a Cadet Scout parent. There is a $5 fee that can be paid for any dog in your care. This $5 covers the production and mailing of the Cadet Scout collar tag and the record keeping associated with this title. Once you get the collar tag, you can then call your dog a Cadet Scout.
Once you have passed the certification to become a Dog Scout, and you have submitted your forms and fees, you become “a Dog Scout parent” and the dog can use the title of “Dog Scout” and place the letters DSA after his or her name. Please read below for more information about the Dog Scout title and what that honor entails.
When you pass the certification and your dog becomes a Dog Scout, your dog will receive:
- His/her official DSA bandana
- Official DSA photo I.D. card
- His/her first merit badge, the oval “Dog Scout” badge, indicating that your dog has passed the requirements for exemplary behavior necessary to be a Dog Scout.
Specialty Merit Badges
As a Dog Scout, your dog is now eligible to earn more merit badges. The easiest way to earn them is to come to Dog Scout Camp, where we have instructors to teach you a variety of activities and certify you and your dog.
There are also a number of badges that you can work on outside of camp without the need for a video. If you cannot arrange to come to Dog Scout Camp, you can earn badges outside of camp, if you can get a certified Dog Scout Evaluator to verify your achievements and sign off on your merit badge form.
Another option is for you to use videotaping to show the steps you used to teach the dog his/her behaviors and show each of the steps on the check-off sheet for the badge. For the parent’s part of the badge, you will need to show on tape or in writing that you understand all of the parent’s responsibilities to earn the badge.
The merit badge forms and check-off sheets are available on the DSA website, free for you to download for your own use. You do not have to apply for the sew-on patches through DSA if you just want to learn the badge activity for fun. Learning is encouraged whether you get a patch to show for it or not.
If you wish to work on some of the badges, but you do not have a certified Dog Scout Evaluator in your area (and don’t want to video tape), please go ahead and learn to perform the skills and get the experience necessary to earn these badges.
As our organization grows, there will be more and more Evaluators trained to administer and certify a wider array of badges, and if you have already completed the work, all you have to do is to demonstrate to the Evaluator that you have trained the dog in the manner prescribed by DSA and done so with safety and concern for your dog. Both you and the certifying Evaluator have to sign a form testifying to the fact that this has been done, and they have personally observed this (you may be asked to demonstrate key points from your check-off sheet if the Evaluator has not observed you performing them.)
Community Service, Clean up America 1 and 2, Therapy Work, Letterboxing 1, 2 & 3, Geocaching 1, 2 & 3 and Temperament Tested are several badges that you can work on outside of camp without a video, using the honor system and log sheets.
There is a fee of $25.00 for each specialty badge you would like to earn. This fee covers the Evaluator’s time, the cost of processing your merit badge form and entering it into the computer data base as a permanent record that your dog has earned the badge on this date; the equipment used at camp for the badge; the merit badge and the cost of shipping it to you; and administrative costs, which include everything from providing the training that your Evaluator received, to developing the criteria for each badge, creating and commissioning the artwork for the embroidered patches, making the forms available online, and other office details.
The badge fees do not include any training fees or classes that may be offered to you to prepare and train you and your dog for the achievement of the badges. If your Leader or Evaluator offers these classes, they are totally separate from the certification process, and any fees charged are paid directly to the person providing this training. If you are seeking training expressly for the purpose of attaining badges, you might want to inquire as to whether the person offering the instruction has been certified (or is in the process of being certified) by DSA to evaluate for that badge.
Many of our Leaders are qualified to teach a number of activities, but if they are not yet certified by DSA to sign off on badge forms, you won’t be able to get the badge until they do (unless you send in video.) I don’t want you to mistakenly think that the training equals the earning of the badge. We at DSA feel that new kinds of training and experience is always valuable, and you should strive to learn all you can, even if it means you might not get a chance to prove it to someone with the ability to certify you until a later date. By a later date, I mean that someone in your area may, in the future, be approved to administer additional badges, or you may get a chance to attend a camp, mini-camp, or outing, where you can demonstrate to a certified Evaluator that you and your dog have completed your badge requirements or you may have an opportunity to be video taped.
Once your dog earns the title of Dog Scout, your dog is eligible to wear the special Dog Scout Uniform. If you would like to order one, on which to display your badges, please visit the DSA store on-line. Please, only purchase the uniform if your dog HAS the Dog Scout title. We do our best to verify that status before shipping a uniform or other “Dog Scouts only” gear.
You may also purchase duplicates of any of the badges your dog has earned, so that you can place them on his or her backpack, uniform, bandanna or crate cover. Duplicate patches are $3.00 each, plus $2.00 postage and handling. You may also order additional Dog Scout bandannas for $5.00 each. Replacement ID cards: If you lose your dog’s I.D. card, or have a change of address or other information, and you wish to get a replacement DSA photo I.D. card, you may purchase a new one for $5.00.
There are lots of other logo items available to everyone, which are available in the DSA store. They include the static cling window sticker, the circular embroidered DSA patch, the gold DSA logo cloisonné pin, the red, white and blue member pin, mugs, hats, several types of shirts, Italian Charms, jackets, treat pouches, license plates, bumper stickers, bags, and dog shirts! Just to name a few.
Please Don’t Impersonate
Your DSA photo I.D. badge makes your Scout look very “official,” especially if he or she is also wearing a Dog Scout uniform. While your dog IS special, we do not want anyone to mistake the Dog Scout Identification for anything but what it is: a testament to your dog’s good training and exemplary behavior. If this will get store owners or hotels to allow your dog into their establishment, then hooray for our commitment to training and responsible parenting! Conduct yourselves in a Dog Scoutly manner and be glad that someone recognized the value of a well-mannered and trustworthy dog on a leash held by a responsible dog parent.
However, please make it very clear that this does not legally entitle your dog to any special privileges — most people are ignorant of the service dog laws vs. the DS title. Many times, after explaining the nature of the DSA certification, my dogs have been allowed access on those merits alone. Please do not take advantage of situations where an ignorant person may not understand the difference between a dog which has a legal right to be anywhere with his parent, and a dog which is basically safe to have in public because his friendly nature and good manners have been certified by passing a test.
Explanation of the DSA Titles
- Member: when you pay your DSA dues, you are a member of Dog Scouts of America
- Cadet Scout: If you agree to abide by the Dog Scout laws and your dog is safe in public, he or she can be a Cadet Scout when you pay the $5 fee for the tag and record keeping.
- Dog Scout: When you and your dog pass the Dog Scout certification, your dog is officially a Dog Scout. Becoming a Dog Scout is a title for the dog only, and membership is for the people only.
- A Jr. Scout is a dog that passed the certification with a human under 18 years of age.
- A troop leader is just that: A leader of a troop. This person may or may not have other titles within DSA.
- A Scoutmaster is a person that is certified by DSA to observe and certify dogs and parents that want to get their Dog Scout title. A person has a specific and intensive process to go through to become certified to give the tests for the Dog Scout badge/title. This person may or may not have other titles within DSA.
- A Dog Scout Evaluator evaluates dogs that are already Dog Scouts as they try for the specialty badges. A person has a specific and intensive process to go through to become certified to give the tests for each specialty badge. The Dog Scout evaluator may or may not have other titles within DSA.
- The DSA President/CEO is the person that oversees the entire organization with the help of others who have organizational roles.
- The Certification Program Director – oversees all of the Troop Leaders, Scoutmasters and Evaluators. This person also oversees the video certification process by reviewing the videos and answering any questions about the program.
- The Membership Director – handles the memberships for DSA.
- The Recognition Program Director - handles all the record keeping and distribution of the merit badges as well as issuing certificates for programs like the Pack Dog Title.
- The Memorial and Engraving Program Director – handles the plaques and awards given to members and special people who are not members, but are recognized by DSA. This person also keeps the “Rainbow Bridge Troop” plaque up to date to honor all the Dog Scouts that have crossed over the bridge and are waiting for their parents.
- The Newsletter Editor – this person has the task of creating the DSA newsletter (with the help of contributions by members and leaders).
- The DSA treasurer – handles all the funds for DSA.
- The Jr. Scout Director – helps anyone interested in becoming involved in this program.
- The Graphic Arts Designer – helps create the images for the badges, T-shirts and does the layout for the DSA calendar.
- The Webmaster - has the task of keeping the website up to date and adding new information about the growing and improving organization and sends out the logins and passwords for any Member Only Areas of the site.
- The Dog Scout Camp Staff – This group of people makes sure the campers have a great time at camp and learn as much as possible while having great fun!
If you let your membership lapse, your dog will continue to be a Dog Scout (if they have been certified.) But you will no longer get the membership benefits like the newsletter, eligibility to participate in a troop, free outings, etc.
If you notice, your dog’s I.D. card has a date of certification. We would like you to get your dog re-certified every 5 years, to be sure the two of you are still maintaining your training and practicing the Dog Scout laws. This way, your dog’s card will expire if you do not continue to be examples of responsible dog parenting. However, no dog will have his DSA status removed solely because the parent did not renew the card in five years. Some dogs get too old to return to camp, or find themselves in an area of the country where it is not easy to find someone who can re-certify them. This policy is mainly to prevent those rare, worst possible scenarios, where someone gets a dog certified by some miracle, disappears into the woodwork, and for all we know, they could be acting irresponsibly with their dog, like having blatant disregard for leash laws, or letting their dog act aggressively towards people or other dogs. Disregard for the Dog Scout Way and Responsible parenting can result in revocation of the Dog Scout title and DSA membership without reimbursement.
The I.D. card also indicates that DSA has the right to revoke a certification at its discretion. If your dog were to prove itself a menace to society, or unsafe around humans or other dogs, we would not want him or her out in public, posing a danger, and portraying a bad image of Dog Scouts in general. These provisions were set in place to protect all of us responsible dog parents who have well-behaved Scouts, from being associated with the rare individual who may not continue to act responsibly.
Continued membership is not a requirement.
However, it is a very good idea, because with your membership, you will continue to be eligible to join in local troop activities, and can get the Dog Scout Scoop newsletter on-line, which contains information about the goings-on at the national level, as well as things happening on a local level around the country. You will be eligible to earn additional Dog Scout Merit Badges, Pack Dog Titles and participate in other DSA membership programs, and Dog Scout outings. If you maintain your membership, you will not “disappear into the woodwork.” We will know that you have an ongoing commitment to our goals and mission and your dues help support our programs.
Dog Scouts of America is a non-profit, 501 (c) (3) charitable organization. Our mission is to promote responsible dog parenting and educate people about the importance of the human/canine bond. As a member of Dog Scouts of America, with your certified Dog Scout, we hope that you will provide an example of the joys of responsible dog parenting and the mutually beneficial bond you have formed with your dog as a member of your family. We hope you will continue to learn new things together to increase your capabilities and confidence levels, and to enrich your lives together.