Archive for the ‘Service Dog Tips’ Category

Any educator will tell you that their grade book and lesson plan serves multiple purposes. It keeps them organized and identifies how well their students are doing. When students fall behind, an educator can easily spot their weak areas and strengthen them. In the end, grade books and lesson plans also serve as documentation to prove that a student did the work and what the student should be proficient at. Like grade books and lesson plans, a service dog training log tracks and verifies a dog’s training history. This article will outline how to keep a service dog training log that is useful and a great report for your service dog’s progress.

What is a Service Dog Training Log? 

When training a service dog, a training log can be a trainer or handler’s most important asset. Although no laws are requiring a trainer or handler to keep a service dog training log, the practice of maintaining one can simplify training and has many practical benefits. The four major benefits of a training log are outlined below:

1. Keeps the Trainer Organized

No matter how intelligent a dog is, training can always devolve into a frustrating endeavor. Keeping a training log allows a trainer to structure lessons and stick to what’s necessary. By documenting a dog’s progress, trainers can keep to schedule and remain focused. Training a service dog takes months, sometimes years. By staying organized, trainers may shorten the duration of the training. 

2. Ensures a Level of Quality

When reviewing a service dog training log, a person can spot which obedience commands a dog excels at. Rather than guessing at a dog’s proficiency, a service dog training log ensures that a service dog meets obedience commands at a specific level of skill. Because a handler’s well-being often depends on a service dog’s skill and competence, ensuring that a level of quality is met is vital. A service dog training log confirms that a dog is trained at the desired level and can perform the tasks needed by the handler. 

3. Identifies Strengths and Weaknesses

Even an exceptionally intelligent dog can have challenges in learning a particular skill. By keeping a training log, trainers and handlers can better identify where training needs lie and address them right away. Similarly, a training log highlights a service dog’s strengths, therefore making the task of matching service dogs to the needs of their handlers much simpler. 

4. Serves as Proof of Training

Though there are no federal laws that require proof of a service dog’s training, a handler may need evidence to apply for specific certifications or registrations. For example, the International Association for Service Dog Partners (IAADP) states that a weekly training log may be required from a provider who supports IAADP for service dog certification. This training log must document the required 120 hours of Public Access training. If a handler or trainer intends to certify or register a service dog in the future, a training log is essential. Also, should the need arise, a training log provides legal protection for the service dog, trainer, and handler. Although a training log can be time-consuming and cumbersome, they can be incredibly helpful.  

Do you want to show that your Service Dog has mastered the Public Access Test?Get your Handler-Certified Public Access Test certificate. Sample Service Dog Training Log Content

There’s no standard format for a service dog training log. The structure of the training log depends on the preference of the trainer or handler. However, some standards of information apply: 

Name of trainer Date Time Location Competency Obedience command or prompt Task or Public Access Skill linked with the competency Trainer or Handler Notes

You can start your training log by downloading this free sample Service Dog Training Log, provided by Service Dog Certifications.

A service dog training log can be as simple as a notebook kept by the trainer or handler, documenting a dog’s progress during training. For trainers who want more information and ready-to-use templates, books and manuals on service dog training also have training logs that can be consulted. More cost-effective and straightforward options are free service dog training log downloads on the internet. 

A service dog training log not only documents the strengths and weaknesses of the canine but can also function as proof of training in a legal dispute. Keeping Your Service Dog Training Log Safe

As the years go by, a trainer or handler might misplace or forget about their training log. Therefore, a service dog training log must be kept safe, in good condition, and in a location that’s easy to remember. The log is proof of the countless hours and effort placed training a service dog. This means that keeping the training log where a trainer or handler has access to it is critical. Keeping photocopies of the training log can also help ensure that the information is readily available and complete. 

Your service dog can go with you almost anywhere, and this includes the open seas! Bringing your service dog on a cruise ship allows you to enjoy your vacation safely and comfortably, without extra worry about your health. Want to bring your service dog on a cruise ship? Keep reading to find out how you can have a cruise ship vacation with your service dog.

Service Dogs on Your Vacation

A service dog is there to give you more options for living your life safely with your disability — including on vacation. You deserve to have the vacation you want. And you can have the vacation you’re dreaming of because you have a service dog.

Traveling on vacation with your service dog takes some planning ahead. You’ll have to consider the needs of your service dog, opportunities for play, and keep in mind the environment you need for your service dog to be comfortable. Also, remember that, like on an airplane, physical space (especially within the cabins) is exceptionally limited. Practical issues like whether the size of an animal can be physically accommodated must factor into your vacation plans. 

Show everyone that the rights of your service dog should be respected. Get your service dog registered below. Going On a Cruise With Your Service Dog 

Most cruise ships are not pet-friendly. However, exceptions are made for service dogs, because a service dog is not a pet. Service dogs assist people who have a disability; therefore, most cruise ships make exceptions for service dogs. 

Cruise ships are a convenient way to travel with your service dog, as long as you plan. Because cruise ships have smaller rooms than hotels, you may need to factor the size of your service dog into your travel plan. It’s best to contact the cruise line before purchasing a ticket to inquire about their accommodations for people with disabilities and their service dogs. 

Before booking tickets for your vacation on a cruise ship with your service dog, make sure to check all requirements. Our FAQs below can help you prepare.

Not surprisingly, first-timers on cruises with their service dogs often have a lot of questions. Here are the most common questions about going on a cruise with service dogs:

Where do service dogs relieve themselves on a cruise ship?

themselves. After all, cruise ships don’t have vast swaths of grassy areas made for dogs! Fortunately, most cruise lines have areas designated as service dog “relief boxes.” The service dog owner can request a service dog relief “box.” This box is typically filled with mulch, sod, wood shavings, or faux grass and kept in a private service area. 

Can a service dog go anywhere passengers go on a cruise ship?

A service dog may accompany their owner anywhere other passengers have access. However, some cruise ships may prevent service dogs from entering areas where their presence might pose a health hazard, like the medical bay or swimming pool area. For the most part, service dogs can accompany their owner to the cruise’s shops, restaurants, and onboard ship activities.

Will the staff watch my service dog for me? 

As much as anyone would love to spend time with an adorable service dog, cruise ship staff are not obligated to watch a service dog. Furthermore, many cruise ships don’t allow owners to leave their service dogs unattended, even in their cabins or staterooms. 

Cruise ships often stop at various ports, and passengers disembark for land activities. If a service dog owner disembarks, they must either take the service dog with them or make arrangements for the dog to be cared for. Grooming, walking, and relieving the service dog are also not the responsibility of the cruise ship staff. 

Does my service dog have to be registered or certified?

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) does not require documentation for a canine to be a service dog. However, doing so can make traveling less stressful and much more enjoyable. A readily available document can enable a service dog owner to avoid misunderstandings. 

Under the ADA, third parties can ask two questions to verify a service dog:1. Is the service dog required due to a disability? and2. What work or task has the dog been trained to perform?

While documents like registrations, service dog certificates, ID cards, tags, and vests are not required, you probably have seen many service dog owners carry these items. That is because they can be incredibly helpful in indicating to others that a dog accompanies you due to your disability. 

It can be especially helpful on a cruise ship to have service dog accessories, so other passengers understand why a dog was allowed to board. 

Does the cruise ship offer dog food for my service dog?

The cruise ship does not carry dog food, so service dog owners must bring enough food for their dogs to last the duration of the trip. Even all-inclusive cruise ships do not offer food for service dogs.

Does owning a service dog require a letter from a doctor? 

Owning a service dog does not require a letter from a healthcare professional. Although a healthcare professional may be necessary to determine whether you have a qualifying disability. For that reason, some owners of psychiatric service dogs do obtain PSD letters.

A PSD letter is from a doctor or therapist who has determined whether a person has a qualifying mental health disability for the purpose of owning a psychiatric service dog

Other Factors to Consider When Going On a Cruise with a Service Dog

The same concerns that come up when traveling with your service dog also apply to cruise ships. These are a few other factors you may need to comfortably travel with your service dog.

1. Your Service Dog’s Behavior

Although the ADA protects your rights as a service dog owner, the cruise ship can still ask you to keep your service dog out of common areas if your trained service dog does the following:

Growls or barks excessively Bites guests or crew members Relieves themselves in areas other than the designated relief station  Aggressively lunges at guests or crew 

Cruise ship guests may have to “tender” to get on or off the cruise ship. A tender is a smaller boat used to reach a larger ship. These tenders have limited space and may be shaky and unsteady. This experience can be unsettling for a canine, so be aware of your service dog’s emotional state. 

2. Vaccinations and Yearly Physical

Cruise ships may ask for your trained service dog’s vaccination papers and last check-up. To simplify the process, ensure you keep up-to-date with your dog’s vaccinations and veterinary appointments. 

3. International or Interstate Documentation 

Service dog owners are responsible for gathering all mandatory documents for the animal, and this includes documents to depart the ship in ports of call and at the ship’s final destination. 

For more information on document requirements for a few destinations, visit:

Hawaii Department of Agriculture UK Department of Environment (Food and Rural Affairs) U.S. Department of Agriculture Cruise Ships with Your Service Dog 

Royal Caribbean, Carnival, Norwegian, and Disney Cruise ships allow legally defined and trained service dogs. Each cruise line has parameters regarding booking and registration for service dog owners. 

For example, Norwegian asks its guests with special accommodation requests to complete a Guest Special Needs Request form at registration and must book two weeks in advance. Traveling with your service dog is your right, but make sure you complete the appropriate procedures with your particular cruise line. 

According to the most recent U.S. Census Bureau Data (2010), about 40.3 million people aged 65 and older live in the U.S, and the numbers keep growing. The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that the senior population may exceed 70 million by 2030. And with this rapid growth in the number of seniors comes the need for daily care. One excellent source for daily senior assistance is a service dog.

Aging in Place 

The last two decades saw significant population increases in the 65+ age group. And approximately 87 percent of seniors want to “age in place,” which means that their first preference is to remain in their home and community as they grow older. Despite this desire to stay in familiar surroundings, seniors often live alone. 

Pew Research data shows that about half of seniors in the U.S. share a home alone with a spouse or partner. And approximately 27 percent of seniors live by themselves. Older women are more likely to live alone, and — as children grow up and move out — seniors are more likely to live in small households. Rather than moving to a retirement community or moving away, many seniors opt to stay somewhere familiar when they need it most. 

How a Service Dog Can Help Senior Citizens

As all people age, however, health begins to decline. Physical challenges — like reduced mobility and vision — and medical issues can pose risks for seniors living alone. A service dog can help address many of these issues, allowing disabled seniors to live their golden years in a safer environment. 

What is a Service Dog? 

A service dog is not a pet, nor is it a therapy dog or emotional support animal. Service dogs help people who have a physical or mental health disability. A service dog is a dog that has received individualized training to accomplish tasks for people with disabilities. 

Federal laws protect service dogs. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), for example, enables service dogs to accompany their owners into areas where animals are not typically allowed. A service dog may follow their handler anywhere accessible to the general public. These areas include restaurants, parks, theaters, stores, to name a few. Service dogs are provided such comprehensive access because service dogs are not pets — they are critical to the health and well-being of their handler. 

Other federal laws protecting service dogs are the Housing and Urban Development’s Fair Housing Act and the Transportation Department’s Air Carrier Access Act. Under the FHA, service animals may live with their handlers in “no pets allowed” housing. For example, a senior living in a “no pets” rental may live with a service dog free from fees and discrimination because the FHA protects their ability to live with their service dog.

When it comes to travel, the ACAA allows service dogs to fly in an airplane’s cabin with their handler without fees. Along with these federal laws, some states also have laws that pertain to service dogs. 

Service dogs can assist senior citizens with any physical challenges they may encounter. What a Service Dog Can Do

Laws exist to protect the presence of service dogs because they’re a vital part of a person’s safety and health. As many seniors live alone, service dogs can offer an extra layer of security and peace of mind. Some of the tasks service dogs can perform for their handlers include: 

Alerting and safeguarding a person prone to seizures. Obtaining and reminding a person of their medication.  Opening cabinets and doors for a person.  Serving as a physical brace for someone with mobility problems.  Alerting a deaf or hard of hearing person of alarms, bells, or knocks on the door.  Contacting emergency services through a pre-arranged method.  Assisting a person off the floor if they fall.  Alerting a diabetic person to significant blood sugar changes.  Monitoring for the presence of allergens such as peanuts.  How Can a Senior Qualify for a Service Dog?

First and foremost, to qualify for a service dog, a senior must have a mental or physical disability that impacts their daily life. Service dog candidates must show that there is a task they need to be done by the dog and that the task relates specifically to their disability. For example, a senior with a hearing impairment may show that a service dog can notify them of the doorbell, phone calls, and other auditory alerts. In addition, the senior must have the capacity to independently care for the dog — both financially and with daily care —, and must have a way to give commands and maintain control of the dog. Lastly, the senior’s home must be a safe environment for the dog.

It’s critical to note that you do not need any type of documentation to prove that you have a service dog. You may have seen service dog owners with ID cards, certificates, special vests and harnesses or registration badges. These accessories are used only to help signal to the public that you have a working service dog, but they are not required. They also do not qualify anyone for a service dog or function in lieu of proper service dog verification.

Third parties are allowed to verify service dogs by asking two questions: 1. Is the dog required because of a disability and 2. What work or task has the dog been trained to perform? If you are flying with a service dog, you will be required to complete the DOT’s Service Animal Air Transportation Form prior to boarding your flight.

Service Dogs Can Assist and Comfort Seniors

Service dogs are an excellent option for seniors who have a disability. Not only do they perform tasks that can make a senior’s life safer and more manageable, but they also offer companionship and comfort.

Let everyone know your service dog is an indispensable part of your life with your Service Dog ID. Get your service dog registered here.