Archive for the ‘Service Dog Tips’ Category

Service dogs play an indispensable role for many individuals with physical and mental health disabilities. Recognizing this, Georgia provides legal protections and rights for service dog handlers.

In the Peach State, service dogs have the right to access public areas typically off-limits to animals and can reside in homes and apartments that generally don’t permit pets. Service dogs can also board airplanes free of charge. 

In this article, we’ll highlight some key details about service dogs in Georgia.

Who can handle a service dog in Georgia?

Service dogs aren’t pets; they are legally protected assistance animals for individuals with disabilities. As outlined by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), a person with a disability is someone:

“who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities.“

The requirements: The handler must have a physical or mental health disability and should train the dog – either personally or through a professional – to execute a job that assists with their disability.

Service dogs can perform tasks such as guiding the visually impaired, providing deep-pressure therapy for those with psychiatric disabilities, or pulling wheelchairs. Service dogs used for mental or intellectual disabilities are referred to as psychiatric service dogs.

Registering Your Service Dog in Georgia

Is it required: In Georgia, there’s no formal requirement for service dog registration. However, many handlers choose to register their dogs in voluntary databases to obtain ID cards.

Benefits: Service dog owners frequently use accessories like vests, ID cards, and certificates to inform the public about their dog’s status. These tools can be beneficial in conveying to others that your dog is a highly trained service dog, not a pet. This can discourage unnecessary inquiries about the dog’s presence in areas generally closed to pets and prevent others from interfering with the dog while it’s on the job. 

It’s crucial to note that these accessories cannot replace genuine service dog verification. No one can insist on these items as a condition of access. They are merely a display for the convenience of the handler.

The only way to verify: In Georgia, third parties may ask two questions if the need for the service dog isn’t immediately apparent:

Is the dog a service dog required for a disability? What work or task has the dog been trained to perform?

A Georgia service dog handler who can adequately answer these questions must be reasonably accommodated in public spaces without showing any documentation.

To register your service dog and obtain an ID card, Service Dog Certifications (SDC) offers a database and service dog accessories. Here are the steps to register a service dog with SDC in Georgia:

Confirm you are a service dog owner

You will need to confirm that you are a service dog owner with a fully trained service dog.

Enter the name of the service dog and handler

This information will be entered into the service dog registration database.

Upload a recent photo of your service dog (optional)

The photo will be displayed on the ID card and in the database.

Select other accessories

You can order additional service dog identification cards, a service dog collar tag, a paper certificate, a vest, etc.

At checkout, enter your email address

You will receive your digital identification card and registration information at this email address.

Training a Service Dog in Georgia

A service dog must be specifically trained to perform their necessary tasks. Furthermore, the dog must be well-behaved and under control in public settings.

There are three general routes for training a service dog:

Adopt a dog from a service dog trainer: This option involves adopting a dog that has already been trained for the tasks you require. However, this can be expensive. Hire a professional trainer: You can select a dog and outsource the training to a professional. Training on your own: Handlers can independently train their service dogs without external help. It’s more time-consuming, but you can build a stronger handler-dog bond. Before choosing this option, be confident in your ability and knowledge to train a service dog. Georgia State Laws

While federal laws protect service dogs and their handlers’ rights, Georgia law also provides support through O.C.G.A. § 30-4-2. This statute gives service dogs in training the same public access rights as fully trained service dogs.

Georgia law also makes it a misdemeanor to falsely present a pet as a service animal. It’s crucial to know that the handler’s honesty is vital in maintaining trust and legitimacy in the service dog community.

Georgia Service Dog News

The Georgia Department of Veterans Service has partnered with Rebuilding Warriors, a non-profit organization that provides service dogs to veterans. These dogs are trained specifically to assist with the veterans’ unique needs, thereby enhancing their quality of life and helping them reintegrate into society.

The short answer: While there’s no rule explicitly stating that a service dog can’t ride in a stroller, it may not be recommended for several reasons. The better alternative for service dogs are items like vests, harnesses, and leashes. 

Why might a stroller not work for a service dog?

First, service dogs are often trained to provide physical support or carry out tasks that require them to be on the ground. For instance, they may be trained to pick up dropped items, provide balance support, guide their handlers, or alert them to specific environmental changes. Being in a stroller might prevent the dog from effectively carrying out these tasks.

Second, it might create confusion for the public. People are accustomed to seeing service dogs walking with their handlers. Seeing a service dog in a stroller might give the impression that it’s a pet rather than a working animal.

Why might a stroller be okay for a service dog?

While it may not be appropriate for many service dogs to be in a stroller, there can be circumstances where it would be acceptable. For example, if the dog is temporarily injured or if the handler’s disability requires that the dog be transported in this manner for certain periods. In such cases, it would be essential to ensure that the stroller is safe and comfortable for the dog.

If the service dog is a smaller animal, using a carrying accessory like a stroller might be helpful to the owner in certain public situations. For example, when crossing long distances in crowded areas where there is a risk of injury to the dog.  

It’s important to remember that each situation with a service dog and its handler can be unique, and flexibility might be required based on the handler’s specific needs and the service dog’s training

As long as the service dog can still perform its tasks effectively and the dignity and rights of the handler are respected, arrangements such as a stroller can be appropriate. If a third party has any doubt regarding a service dog’s status, they can ask the owner two questions under the ADA: 1. Is the dog a service dog required for a disability? and 2. What work or task has the dog been trained to perform?

What do service handlers use instead?

A service dog must be under the control of the handler at all times. To accomplish this, most service dog owners use items like vests, harnesses, and leashes instead of strollers. They also use accessories like ID cards so the public is immediately aware of their dog’s status. 

If you’re someone who’s dealing with anxiety, you know how challenging it can be to manage your symptoms. Did you know that if you have a disabling condition, a service dog can make a significant difference in your life? 

Service dogs can be trained to perform tasks that can address symptoms of anxiety disorders, such as panic attacks and anxiety attacks.

Here are the best dog breeds for service dogs that can help with anxiety:

Labrador Retriever – These dogs are among the most popular breeds for service dogs because of their loyalty, cheerfulness, and calm temperament. Common tasks: Deep Pressure Therapy, fetching medication, providing comfort during panic attacks Golden Retriever – Golden Retrievers are another favored breed for service dogs because they’re friendly, gentle, and love to please their handlers. Common tasks: alerting handlers of oncoming panic attacks, fetching medication, providing comfort during stressful situations German Shepherd – German Shepherds are known for their loyalty, intelligence, and protective nature. Common tasks: Deep Pressure Therapy, alerting handlers of oncoming panic attacks, providing comfort during stressful situations Poodle – Poodles are hypoallergenic and don’t shed much, making them an excellent choice for individuals who are allergic to dogs or have asthma. They’re also highly intelligent and trainable, making them ideal for service dog training. Common tasks: Deep Pressure Therapy, retrieving medication, alerting handlers of oncoming panic attacks, tactile stimulation, and providing comfort during stressful situations Cavalier King Charles Spaniel – These dogs are known for their sweet and affectionate nature, making them excellent companion dogs for those with anxiety. Common tasks: Deep Pressure Therapy, fetching medication, tactile stimulation to alleviate panic attacks

It’s important to note that under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), service dogs can be trained by the handler or a professional trainer. There is no certification requirement for service dogs, although psychiatric service dog owners can obtain a PSD letter

While these breeds are excellent choices for service dogs, it’s important to remember that any dog can be trained to become a service dog for anxiety. The most important consideration is whether the particular dog is suited for your needs in terms of temperament, intelligence, and physical ability.