Service Dogs and Assistance Dogs aren’t the only dogs in the world who do amazing, life-changing work, but they are one of the few types of working dogs clearly defined and protected by United States federal law. Too many people don’t understand the differences between many types of working dogs, though, and it’s time to clear up some of the confusion.
When it comes to Service Dogs or Service Dogs in Training with public access, there are definite things Service Dogs in public should and should not do. Learn more about how well-trained Service Dogs should appear and what U.S. Service Dog law says about dogs who don't quite possess the skills necessary to safely work in public
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) defines a Service Animal as: any dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, developmental, psychiatric, intellectual, or other disability. Per U.S. federal law, the Service Animal and Service Dog definition is clear cut. It includes any dog trained to assist a person with a disability overcome obstacles affecting their day to day life that directly result from their disability. As such, Service Animals are skilled and highly trained dogs who partner with people with disabilities. Service Animals are also known as Assistance Animals, Assistance Dogs, and Service Dogs. These unique working dogs utilize their specialized training to mitigate their partner’s specific disability and the difficulties caused by the disability. They perform some of the functions and tasks that an individual with a disability cannot perform easily for him or herself. In order to be a Service Dog, a dog must be partnered with a person with a disability that hinders their ability to function independently. Furthermore, the dog must have specific task training or work that directly lessens or reduces the impact of the handler’s disability. Without both of these pieces, a dog, no matter how well trained, is not legally a Service Dog. Service Dogs can be trained to assist with tasks and work related to a wide range of disabilities, including — but not limited to — deafness, blindness, autism, epilepsy, severely limiting psychiatric conditions, life-threatening allergies, diabetes, mobility issues, neuromuscular diseases, and many others, such as endocrine system, circulatory, or pulmonary irregularities. Some disabilities, like many neurological disorders or the cardiac condition POTS, are invisible and may not be apparent to others. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) defines a Service Animal as: any dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, developmental, psychiatric, intellectual, or other disability. Other species of animals, whether wild or domestic, trained or untrained, are not service animals for the purposes of this definition. The work or tasks performed by a service animal must be directly related to the individual’s disability. Examples of work or tasks include, but are not limited to: Assisting individuals who are blind or have low vision with navigation and other tasks Alerting individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing to the
Before we begin, please note that our focus is on Service Dogs, not Emotional Support Dogs, Therapy Dogs or other types of working dogs or other species of animals. Emotional Support Animals (ESAs) and Therapy Dogs are important types of working dogs, but they are not Service Dogs. It is very important to understand the difference. Simply being disabled and having a dog isn't enough Simply being being disabled or having a disease and having a dog isn't enough to make a dog a Service Dog. Many disabled people have pets. Service Dogs must be trained to perform specific physical tasks or work that you would otherwise have difficulty completing on your own due to your disability. Tasks or work should be things that are physically necessary. Under the law, people are allowed to ask you what specific physical tasks your dog performs to help with your disability and you should be prepared to explain. Providing comfort or emotional support are not qualifying tasks. Some people are surprised to learn that there are no legally-mandated training standards for Service Dogs — or even for Service Dog trainers. There is no “formal” test for Service Dogs because the tasks Service Dogs can be trained to perform vary too widely. Furthermore, under the law it is illegal for anyone to ask for proof of training or certification. The ADA is written this way because it is a civil rights law designed level the playing field for disabled people — not add challenges for them. If any form of "paperwork," "certification" or "licensing" were required Service Dog handlers could and would be stopped and forced to show proof to whomever asks, or, if police are only allowed to ask, police would be routinely called on Service Dog owners who are just trying to go about their day. Service Dogs do not always make life easier Before you begin to explore partnering with a Service Dog, you should know that they do not always make life easier and you should fully consider it. Please read 5 Questions to Ask Before Partnering With a Service Dog Fully training a Service Dog requires hundreds of hours of hard work If you don't already have a list of specific trained tasks, the first thing you should do is sit down and write out a list of specific things you would like your dog to perform. Tasks or work should be things that are physically necessary. Under
Many people have a vague sense of awareness that Service Dogs "help" their person and that they're allowed to be in public, but there's a lot more to Service Dog handlers and teams than meets the eye.
It’s time to look for your next Service Dog. What traits should you look for? What's important? What doesn't matter? There is a sea of misinformation that a Service Dog handler must sort through while picking a Service Dog puppy or candidate. Cut through the chaos and learn what what to look for while selecting a potential partner.
Before partnering with a Service Dog, there are several important points to consider. While thousands of individuals with a disability benefit greatly from partnering with a Service Dog, it’s not the solution for everyone. If you or a loved one is considering full-time Service Dog partnership, please ask yourself the following 5 questions before making a final decision.
When it comes to Service Dog tasks, there is a lot of confusion over what constitutes a real, specifically trained task and which are only perceived tasks, fueled by emotion and wishful thinking. From Service Dog handlers to trainers to medical doctors to veterinarians alike, there is historically a lot of confusion surrounding this topic.
Science proves living with a dog carries many physical and mental benefits. Blood pressure goes down, people deal with less anxiety and generally speaking, just feel better. Dogs offer great emotional support, help us get more activity, and give the best snuggles. Benefits aside, though, simply having a dog who helps you feel better doesn't make a dog a Service Dog. Only trained tasks do that, along with proper behavior, manners, and temperament. Without further ado, here are 5 awesome things dogs do that aren't Service Dog tasks. Provide Emotional Support When it comes to unconditional love, acceptance, and pure joy, not much beats a good dog. Science agrees that dogs provide incredible emotional support and health perks. Be that as it may, though, emotional support, relieving anxiety, or helping with depression are not, in and of themselves, Service Dog tasks. Service Dog laws specifically exclude emotional support resulting from natural behaviors as a task. Service Dog tasks require specific training and cannot be natural behaviors any dog is capable of doing. Help You Get Things Done Lots of people struggle with daily chores and activities, including things like just getting out of bed. Having a dog can provide the boost some people need to get things done. After all, the dog needs to go out, be fed, and get some exercise. Having a dog can be a great help when dealing with some of the more difficult mental illness symptoms. However, helping you get things done is not a Service Dog task, unless the way your dog assists you is the result of specific training that is replicable on cue. Encourage Outings Walking a dog or going outside to play offers a great way to get some exercise and sunlight. For people who struggle with anxiety or who have phobias, getting out and about can be near impossible. Having a dog can make some of those activities easier. However, daily activities all dogs do aren't Service Dog tasks. Require Interaction Many mental illnesses and chronic disorders result in apathy or a desire for less interaction. Living with a dog usually means providing touch and contact, since dogs need that to be healthy, and so do humans! However, simply interacting isn't a Service Dog task, unless it's a replicable behavior that's trained to assist in a concrete way. Snuggle Snuggling is great. Snuggling with a willing canine companion can be quite relaxing and soothing. No matter how much it helps