Archive for the ‘Service Dog Tips’ Category

Dogs make a difference; there’s no stronger proof than a service dog. While most dogs offer their owners unconditional adoration and affection, service dogs provide the same benefits — and so much more. For people with disabilities, service dogs make everyday tasks easier and safer. 

If you have a qualifying disability and reside in the Prairie State or are thinking of spending the next few years there, you may want to look into what a service dog could do for you. Illinois’ vast expanses and service dog-friendly laws make having a service dog easy. And once you’ve obtained a service dog, you may want to register your dog as a service dog in Illinois. 

Determine Your Need for a Service Dog

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) defines a person with a disability as a person with “a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities; a person who has a history or record of such an impairment; or a person who is perceived by others as having such an impairment.” 

Depending on your disability and what tasks you need help with, a service dog could make a world of difference.

The ADA are federal laws that protect people with disabilities and their service animals. These laws enable people to take their service dogs into areas where pets aren’t usually allowed. If you have a disability, your service dog can accompany you almost anywhere, including airplanes. 

Before you start on your journey to find a service dog, first evaluate what your needs are. Your physician or therapist can help you determine what services a service dog can do for you.

Choose and Training Your Service Dog 

When choosing a service dog candidate, breed and size are essential factors. Opt for the breed that can get the tasks done right. Don’t give in to the temptation of choosing your favorite breed instead. For example, you may prefer Pomeranians. But if you’re using a service dog to help brace falls, a Pomeranian would not only prove ineffective in this situation; it could also be unsafe for you and the Pomeranian. 

Besides breed, intelligence and temperament must also factor into the chosen dog. Why? Because a bulk of what makes a dog a service dog is the training it receives. A service dog must have extensive training to:

Maintain appropriate and safe behavior in public areas. Carry out tasks that specifically pertain to your disability.

You can have a dog professionally trained, train a dog yourself, or you can do a mix of the two. Although the least costly choice is to train a service dog yourself, it’s also the most time-consuming. However, if you don’t have the luxury of time to train your service dog, purchasing one outright from a professional trainer may be the ideal choice. Because so much time, effort, and funds go into having a service dog, it’s always a good idea to get your dog registered. 

In Illinois, a fully-trained service dog will be able to go anywhere their handler needs to go. Why Register Your Service Dog?

Although registering your service dog isn’t mandatory, there are significant reasons why you should. Registering a service dog adds a level of legitimacy to your animal and mitigates problems. You’ll find that having a registered service dog reduces the challenges that occur when traveling or securing lodging with your dog. 

What’s more, the public has become wary of service dogs due to the increase in fraudulent service animals. By having a registered dog, you avoid intrusive questions and can offer immediate proof about your dog’s role. 

How to Register Your Dog as a Service Dog 

Provide the name of the handler.

The handler is typically the person for whom the dog helps. 

Provide the name of the service dog.

When choosing a name to document, use the name that the service dog responds to the most often.

Provide your email address.

Have immediate access to your email because you may need to verify your address. 

Upload a clear and current photo of your service dog.

You may choose to forgo this step if you do not wish to have a photo of your service dog on the ID.

Include any other certifications and paraphernalia.

This may include PSD letters, service dog vests, or dog tags.

Illinois Service Dog Laws

Many states have their own laws regarding service dogs, including Illinois. Two Illinois laws that protect the rights of people who have service dogs are:

1. Service Animal Access Act

The Service Animal Access Act prevents the refusal or denial of service animals in public areas. Violation of the Service Animal Access Act can result in a Class C misdemeanor.

2. White Cane Law

The White Cane Law protects the rights of people with disabilities to work, socialize, and participate in economic exchanges. Violation of the law can result in a Class A misdemeanor.

Registering Your Service Dog in Illinois

Illinois House Bill 3905 (HB 3905) was introduced in March of 2020 to curb the misrepresentation of service animals. Fraudulent service dogs make the work of legitimate service dogs difficult because they degrade public trust. Only legitimate service dog owners should obtain service dog registrations and paraphernalia to help build an honorable reputation with the public.

Psychological trauma occurs when a person witnesses a highly stressful event, like a car accident, school shooting, combat, sexual assault, or extreme violence. How an individual reacts after an event varies from person to person, some experiencing more extreme emotions than others. Coping and managing after a traumatic experience is difficult, and for some, the memory of a traumatic event remains fresh and can impact day-to-day activities. A PTSD service dog may offer help and relief for individuals by taking on specific tasks to help cope with the symptoms of PTSD.

What Is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

When memories of a traumatic event make daily life challenging, a person may have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, about 8 million adults struggle with PTSD.  PTSD can happen to anyone and doesn’t indicate character weakness; it shows that a person with PTSD needs some type of support to help overcome their traumatic experience.

Symptoms of PTSD

Because memories of traumatic events and personal emotions are subjective, the symptoms of PTSD are different from person to person. The symptoms are often persistent, cause a significant amount of discomfort, and affect work, school, and relationships. Possible symptoms of PTSD are: 

Recurrent and intrusive thoughts about the traumatic event.  Avoidance of places, people, or objects that bring to mind the event.  Changes in sleeping habits.  Irritability, mood swings, tearful episodes, or angry outbursts.  Negative thoughts, sometimes suicidal.  Dissociation or confusion.  Routinely feeling unsafe and in danger.  Feeling detached or alienated from friends and family.  A trained PTSD service dog can provide tasks to alleviate symptoms of PTSD. Service Dogs for PTSD

One type of psychiatric service dog is a PTSD service dog. Like all service dogs, a PTSD service dog performs one or more tasks that the individual with PTSD cannot do on their own. Most people who have dogs know the feeling of security and comfort a dog can provide, and for a person with PTSD, that feeling of security can change the course of their disorder. PTSD service dogs, however, do much more than make their owners feel safe. These service dogs may help with a variety of physical interventions, depending on their owner’s needs, which may include:

1. Provide Tactile Redirection

Service dogs receive training on how to sense anxiety or a change in emotions in their owners. If a person with PTSD becomes anxious or fearful, a PTSD service dog can give their owner tactile intervention. Whether it’s stroking their fur or touching their nose, a PTSD service dog can redirect their owner’s attention, allowing them to manage their emotions. 

2. Act as a Guard

People with PTSD, especially those who experienced an assault, may experience feelings of danger, even when the environment is inherently safe. A PTSD service dog can give a person a sense of security by assuring their owner that there are no intruders into their home. A PTSD service dog can also alert its owner to strangers, act as a guard, and give its owner a much-needed sense of peace. PTSD service dogs may also receive training to enter rooms before their owner and then return to their owner to let them know the space is safe.

3. Guide their Owner

When a person experiences a panic attack or flashback, they can become disoriented or dissociate from their environment. When this occurs, they can get lost, unable to find their way in their state of mind. A PTSD service dog can guide their owner home or get assistance, all the while making sure that their owner is safe. 

PTSD Service Dogs are Not Pets or Emotional Support Animals

PTSD is considered an invisible illness. PTSD cannot be spotted right away; therefore, it might be hard for the public to understand why a PTSD service dog is necessary. Nevertheless, a PTSD service dog is a legitimate service dog and is not a pet, emotional support animal (ESA), or therapy dog. A PTSD service dog can accompany its owner anywhere the rest of the public is allowed and is protected under federal laws. PTSD can have a physical and emotional toll on someone, but a PTSD service dog can help to mitigate the negative symptoms of PTSD, enabling an individual to overcome trauma and feel a sense of security. 

Let everyone know your PTSD service dog is an indispensable part of your life. Get your PTSD service dog ID by registering below.

Every child dreams of taking their pet to school. Having their furry friend by their side could probably make any school day so much more enjoyable. For people with service dogs, however, bringing their canines to school makes their school day possible. To know exactly to what extent and under what laws you can take a service dog to school, read on below.

Service Dogs under the ADA

Service dogs receive extensive training to perform tasks. The tasks they learn help people manage their disability or disorder and help with their overall safety and well-being. Because service dogs do vital jobs, the U.S. Department of Justice’s Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) allows the use of service dogs in areas where the public is typically allowed. These public areas include all agencies that serve the public—businesses, government facilities, non-profits, and schools. 

Show everyone that the rights of your service dog should be respected. Get your service dog registered below. Schools, Disabilities and Service Dogs 

In most cases, children can’t take their pet dogs to school. A service dog, on the other hand, isn’t a pet. The service dog is an extension of a child’s treatment or management of their qualifying disability

Disabilities can occur at any age. Therefore, a school-aged child may need the help of a service dog. As school takes up such a large portion of a child’s waking hours, a service dog may need to accompany them to school to make their school day even possible. The federal government protects individuals with disabilities and their right to have a service dog. People with disabilities can take their service dogs to school due to protection under three laws:

1. Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act

Section 504 bans the discrimination of people with a disability in areas that accept federal funds. Public schools typically receive monies from the federal government to operate. 

2. Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

The ADA ensures protections for people with disabilities. Title II of the ADA prohibits discrimination by state and local governments and their services, including public schools.

3. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)

Applicable only to public primary and secondary schools (not public colleges and universities), the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) requires schools to create an Individualized Education Program (IEP) for every applicable student with a disability. 

Under the IDEA, children with disabilities must have free and fitting public education, meeting the parameters of their disabilities. This requirement is considered a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE).

Service Dogs in Elementary and High Schools

A Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) provides supportive services that enable children with disabilities to benefit from the education offered. For example, if a service dog fits the FAPE as a supportive service, then a service dog can attend school along with a child. To determine whether a service dog is necessary to meet FAPE requirements, a child’s education team considers the following: 

Does the presence of the service dog affect a student’s ability to function independently? Can the tasks performed by the service dog be achieved through other practical means? Would a separation from the service dog affect a student’s skills to be independent during the school day? Does the service dog negatively or positively impact how a child develops and maintains social relationships? For some children with disabilities going to school is only possible if they can take their service dog to school. Can Schools Refuse a Service Dog?

Despite the legal protections for service dogs, a few situations exist where a service dog can be refused.

The school may decline a service dog if a child isn’t able to control the dog. A service dog must always be under the handler’s control. The child must know how to give orders to the dog and maintain control of the dog at all times.  The school is under no obligation to care for the service dog. The child must look after the dog and attend to its needs. If the child cannot look after the service dog, the school cannot be burdened and may refuse entry. A service dog that is disruptive, aggressive, or is not housebroken can be asked to leave the premises.

If other children or staff in the school fear dogs or an allergy, the school may provide the service dog and child an area away from the others. However, a fear of dogs or a dog allergy isn’t sufficient cause to deny a service dog’s presence. 

Service Dogs in College 

The ADA applies to both public and private universities. For college dorms and other housing, HUD’s Fair Housing Act (FHA) allows dogs to remain in housing with their handlers—even when regulations say “no pets” are allowed. Colleges and universities must make reasonable accommodations for students and staff who have service dogs. Areas where students can take their service dogs include cafeterias, classrooms, and lecture settings— all areas where other students are typically allowed. 


In short, schools must accommodate service dogs that have been fully trained to perform a work or task relating to a disability. Registrations, certifications, ID cards, and other accessories are completely optional once a service dog has been fully trained. These items, however, can be helpful in schools, so other students are aware the dog is a working animal.

Having service dog paraphernalia like ID cards and vests also allows instructors and school administrators to easily recognize that the student requires their dog because of a disability. Younger children, in particular, can be highly sensitive about constant inquiries about their disability or need for a service dog.

If you are considering bringing a service dog to your school, you may want to speak with your school’s administration to see what other rules and guidelines they have in place.