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Can I Leave My Service Dog at Home?

Service Dog alone at home

Service Dogs work to provide assistance to their owners both inside and outside the house. Many handlers like to keep them close by in case they need the help their Service Dog has been trained for. But, while there are no rules that a Service Dog must accompany their handlers 24/7, it is up to the individual to decide when they need their Service Animal close by. To understand what considerations that decision might involve, read on below.

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Am I Allowed to Leave my Service Dog Alone at Home?

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) has not specified any rules or regulations that state that a person must have their Service Dog with them at all times. If a handler feels as if they need their Service Dog with them whenever they leave the house, they are allowed to bring them along.

However, if the situation commends to leave their Service Dog at home, that’s okay. In fact, there may be circumstances where the handler may be unable to bring their Service Dog. In these cases, the handler will need to decide how to manage their symptoms in their animal’s absence. Remember, Service Dogs are to assist, not to burden.

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A Person as a Substitute for a Service Dog

If a handler has to leave their Service Dog at home, but is not confident enough to encounter the situation alone, there are other ways that they can manage their symptoms. For example, the handler could be accompanied by a person who is aware of the individual’s needs. While the friend may not be able to detect an issue the way a Service Dog would, they would be able to support them while it happens and direct them to the proper supports. This gives the handler the opportunity to be without their Service Dog, but have support if need be.

Service dog at home waiting for their handler to return
Service Dog at home waiting for their handler to return.

When In Doubt, Stay with the Service Dog

In more serious cases, if a handler is unable to bring their Service Dog to a certain location, but can’t function without them, it’s recommended that they send somebody to go run the errand instead. The handler can stay in the presence of their Service Dog, while a friend can get the task completed for them.

Get a Service Dog ID for Confidence

Should a handler not feel confident enough to bring their Service Dog to specific locations, they may consider registering their Service Dog and purchase a Service Dog ID as well as a Service Dog vest. While it’s not a requirement, some individuals feel more confident bringing their Service Dogs along if it is visibly marked as a Service Animal.

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The Handler must Decide

Ultimately, except in extreme cases, it’s up to the handler to decide whether or not they bring their Service Dog with them out and about. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) ensures that the majority of public places allow Service Dogs. Nonetheless, every handler should have a plan in place for the case they run into a scenario where their Service Dog is unable to accompany them. 

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