A service dog is a dog that aids people with disabilities in performing their daily tasks, related to their disability. They can be any size or breed and must be specifically trained. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) has made it legal for people with service dogs to have these dogs accompany them wherever they need to go. This includes all stores, restaurants, parks, and libraries. Some examples of how these dogs can be of service are assisting a visually impaired person or pulling a wheelchair for a person with limited mobility. They can also help those with any psychiatric conditions by providing pressure therapy during panic attacks, or reminding them to take medication.
If you have a dog and would like to train them to be a service dog, it is completely possible. However, this will take a lot of time and patience. It is also possible to adopt a dog that is already a trained service dog.
How Can I Make My Dog Become A Service Dog?
There are two options for making your dog become a service dog.
You can train them yourself, or send them to a service dog training center.
Before deciding on either option, you must first consider your dog’s ability and personality. Not all dogs are suited to becoming service dogs, especially those that are very small in size.
Aside from its physical characteristics, you must also take into consideration the temperament of your dog. If it has a history of being disobedient, then it may not perform too well as a service dog.
Your dog will need to have certain qualities in order to become a service dog. Some of these are, learning information quickly, and retaining it.
Keeping calm when it is introduced to new environments. Being able to focus on you, its owner, and being able to repeat certain tasks.
There is no legal requirement for a dog to attend any course, or for it to be trained by a professional. If the owner is capable, then they are legally able to train their dog to be a service animal.
If you would like to train your dog yourself, one way to begin is to ensure it is house-trained. This should include training your dog to relieve themselves as you command, and in various places.
The next step should be to socialize the dog, ensuring that it focuses solely on you when you are in unfamiliar environments. The dog should be taught to focus on the owner and avoid any distractions.
Once these initial steps have been covered, and you are confident your dog is fully obedient and is able to focus on you in different environments, then you can focus on training the dog to assist you with your disability.
Laws And Requirements
Contrary to popular belief, there is no requirement for a service dog to wear a vest or for its owner to carry any specific form of ID on them.
Some people also think that service dogs need to be registered before carrying out services. As of yet, there are no legal requirements for this.
You will often see service dogs wearing specific vests, and their owner may carry a special ID. This is mainly to let others know that the dog is a service animal and should not be bothered. It also maintains privacy and deters unwanted inquiries about the dog.
If owners want to, they can register their dog as a service dog, and this is how they can obtain a specific ID for them. Many owners prefer to carry these when they are out, as it is an easy way to indicate their dog is not a regular pet.
Service dog owners have a right to privacy when they are in public. If it has been made obvious that the dog is performing a service to assist with any disability, then staff who work at any public establishments are not allowed to make inquiries.
If it is not obvious that the dog is a service animal, then staff are only allowed to ask the following two questions:
- Is the dog a service animal being used to assist with a disability?
- If so, what task or work has the dog been trained to do?
Aside from these two questions, they can’t ask any more questions regarding the disability or the dog.
Enrolling Your Dog In A Program
There are benefits to enrolling your dog in a service training program. The people who run them are experienced trainers and may be able to get more out of your dog than you could on your own.
There is a chance that they may also be able to complete the training in a shorter period of time.
You will also be assured that your dog has been properly trained, and may have more confidence taking the dog out in public after they completed the professional training, rather than when you have trained it yourself.
Before you choose a program, it is critical that you carry out extensive research and find a reputable program. They can cost quite a bit of money, so it is important that you get your money’s worth.
Be sure to read reviews, and listen to any referrals in order to get the best experience for you and your dog.
Service Dog Rights
Service dogs have certain rights that many people may not be aware of and aren’t granted to other pets. If you are the owner of a service dog, under Fair Housing rules, you are allowed to live with your pet even if your housing establishment does not allow any pets.
Service dogs are also allowed on flights and other means of transportation if they are assisting their owner. Before doing this, however, it is important that the dog has received appropriate training. After all, traveling can be a stressful experience for dogs.
Final Thoughts – Service Dog Summary
To conclude, there is no legal requirement for registering or having a specific ID for a service dog. As long as they have received the appropriate training, be it by the owner or a professional, then they are classed as a service dog.
If you chose to train your dog yourself, there are certain steps you should take. These include knowing your dog and acknowledging whether they can be trained to provide the services you require.
If you prefer to enroll your dog in a training program, then there are many reputable ones out there. They can train your dog to perform the tasks needed to assist with disabilities.