Facts About Service Dogs

Service dogs are a vital part of many peoples’ lives and help in the day-to-day activities that people with disabilities struggle to complete. Unfortunately, most people are uneducated when it comes to service animals and actually believe myths and false truths. One of the most frequent questions that the public has is how they can make their dog a service animal so he can go everywhere with them. The truth is, the only way your dog can officially be recognized as a service animal under ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) is when you met the following conditions:

• The handler or owner has a disability that is documented and defined under the Americans with Disabilities Act. This includes a physical or mental impairment that limits one or more of their major life activities.
• The dog is required to be trained to perform tasks that help alleviate the disability. Simply saying that the dog’s presence is therapeutic doesn’t qualify the animal.
• The dog cannot alter the environment of others. The means they must be kept under control of their handlers and on a leash any time they are in a public area. The must also no show any signs of aggression, and must be kept clean and quiet.

Unfortunately, the public is under many misconceptions regarding the rights of the disabled and just how service animals work. The public has a considerable lack of knowledge on these matters. For example, many people think that a service dog must wear a tag or vest identifying them or they are not a legitimate service animal. Keep in mind, however, that there are, unfortunately, several unethical companies that actually profit from this lack of knowledge. These companies often sell forms of identification that doesn’t require any proof on the dog’s level of training it has received, nor any medical documentation to determine whether or not the person is actually disabled.

All potential service animals must complete service dog training and met the minimum standards for service dogs. A team of animal behaviorists, service dog trainers, veterinarians and people with disabilities developed these minimum standards to help guide and maintain the development of the service animal education system.

These minimum standards include the minimum behaviors required and recommended characteristics of all potential service dogs. The specialized behaviors and characteristics required of the each dog varies based on the requirements and needs of the individual for whom the dog is being trained.