In the United States, every Service Dog handler enjoys the right to travel with their Service Dog. However, finding straightforward information about airline policies and requirements, international laws, TSA regulations, security checkpoints, and other commonly encountered situations isn't easy! To help you prepare you for your trip, we've compiled Service Dog travel tips, tricks, hacks, guidelines, and resources. Terminology note: U.S. Federal law includes miniature horses in the list of allowable Assistance Animal species. Miniature horses trained as Assistance Animals usually provide either guide services or brace and mobility support. Since the majority of Assistance Animal handlers partner with a dog, we usually utilize the term "Service Dog" instead of the more universal "Service Animal." However, any time you see "Service Dog," you could replace it with "Miniature Guide Horse" or "Brace and Mobility Support Horse" seamlessly. Miniature horse users possess identical public access rights to Service Dog teams. Airlines Updated Service Dog and ESA Policies Several Years Ago Throughout the course of 2018, nearly every major domestic airline updated their Service Dog travel policies. Most airlines designed their new protocols to crack down on people using legal loopholes to transport untrained or unsuitable dogs free of charge in the cabin. As such, many of the new rules differ greatly from the "old" airline Service Dog requirements. This is particularly true concerning Emotional Support Animals (ESAs). Many airlines now require an extensive, multi-step approval process for Service Dogs and Emotional Support Animals. Some airlines outline different rules or behavioral expectations for different types of Service Dogs. As an example, American Airlines requires Psychiatric Service Dogs to meet the Emotional Support Animal (ESA) requirements instead of the standard Service Dog requirements. Learn More About how Service Animals, Therapy Dogs, and Emotional Support Animals Differ Other types of professional working dogs, like Search and Rescue Dogs and Police K9s, often fly under an airline's established Service Dog policy. However, that's far from universal -- airline working dog policies range from nonexistent to clearly defined with everything in between! All handlers should confirm their airline's Working K9 or Service Dog travel policy several days prior to flying. Airlines accept Service Dogs in Training (SDiTs) at their own discretion. Service Dnimals in Training are not covered by the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) and therefore have no legal rights to fly under any Service Animal policy. Some airlines provide better SDiT policies than others. Service Dog Definitions and Requirements Vary Widely In addition to tightening the rules for
In early 2021, the Department of Transportation (DOT) updated Service Dog travel rules for Service Dog travel by air. In a nutshell, the new DOT Service Dog rules ban Emotional Support Animals on planes and require all Service Dog handlers to fill out two forms at least 48 hours prior to traveling. One of the new DOT Service Animal forms concerns training and behavior and the other health and wellness. For dogs joining their partner on flights longer than 8 hours, an elimination habits form will also be required. The new updates also change the definition of "Service Animal," for the purposes of flying, to include only dogs. No other species of animal, including miniature horses, will be recognized. Ideally, the new DOT rules will ensure dogs traveling in the passenger compartment of the plane are well-behaved and trained for public access. While there's a little more work required on the part of Service Dog handlers prior to flying, overall, the new process is more streamlined. All airlines will utilize the standardized DOT forms. Owner-trained teams, teams which trained under an individual trainer or organization are all treated the same Owner-trainers (people who have trained their own dog), those who have worked with a private trainer or organization-trained dogs will utilize the same form. The forms do require the name of a trainer, however if you've trained your dog yourself or if you no longer have contact with the trainer who originally worked with you (which is extremely common) you may use your own name or that of another trainer as long as you and your animal can meet Service Dog Standards. Some airlines, like American Airlines, allow electronic submission of the forms, whereas others require the forms to be emailed or brought to the desk. Copies of the 2021 Service Dog travel forms can be downloaded here. The new updates also address and standardize a few other common Service Dog travel concerns. Per the DOT, the 2021 Service Animal Final Rule: Defines a service animal as a dog that is individually trained by an owner-trainer, individual trainer or training organization to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of a person with a disability; No longer considers an emotional support animal to be a service animal; Requires airlines to treat psychiatric service animals the same as other service animals; Allows airlines to require forms developed by DOT attesting to a service animal’s
While traveling with a Service Dog in the United States is your privilege, navigating airline policies, international laws, TSA regulations, security checkpoints and other commonly-encountered situations can be anything but smooth sailing. Here are some tips, tricks, guidelines and resources to ensure your trip is as stress-free as possible.
It's that time of year again that many of us begin to think about traveling. While traveling with your trained and well-behaved Service Dog is your privilege, there are some steps you need to take to make sure your trip goes as smoothly as possible.
When it comes to Service Dog training, all of the hundreds of available tasks can be boiled down to 7 essential behaviors. One of those behaviors, targeting, is an easy foundation behavior every Service Dog should know. By learning how to teach a Service Dog to target, you'll be able to start task work with a solid base upon which to build.