How to Make My Dog a Service Dog
A Step by Step Guide to Make Your Dog a Service Dog – Service Dog Rules and Regulations
Under the ADA a disabled person has many rights. One of these is the right to have and use a Service Dog. Do you need to make your dog into a service dog? If you have a disability, you can make your dog a service dog.
According to the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) a person is defined as disabled when he or she has “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.”
If you need a service dog, the first step is to understand the various assistance animal regulations. The information below will help you train your pet into a service dog.
Step #1 – Train your Dog to Provide a Task as a Service Dog
In general, a Service Dog has to be well-trained. They need to follow basic obedience commands and perform their trained task for your disability.
Basic obedience skills are the first step to training a Service Dog. This includes the commands such as:
Service Dogs must become a ‘good citizen’ and display good manners in public. This means no jumping, begging for food, sniffing, barking or any other behavior that takes the focus off of their handler.
Training your dog to perform a task for your disability will take time, patience and the know-how to get the job done. If you have limited knowledge in training a canine, you may have to enlist the help of a professional dog trainer. You can seek help from a local trainer or online. Disabilities your service dog may assist with –
- Limited physical mobility
The trainer can give you the steps to training your dog in any task-orientated area. Once you have the knowledge, you can practice the task with your dog throughout the day. Plenty of praise and rewards will help your dog want to continue to learn and soon you will have him performing the jobs you need him to do when asked.
If you don’t want to train a Service Dog, you can go through an organization that will specifically breed and train the dog for assistance work.
Step #2 – Register Your Service Dog as an Assistance Tool
Once your dog is fully trained, it is in your best interest to have him registered. Although not required by the ADA, many communities maintain voluntary registries that can help identify your dog as a service animal. The New York MTA recommends that all Service Dog handler’s carry a Service Dog ID to help identify your service dog to MTA employees.
Once your dog is certified, you should also order an identification vest for your canine to wear when out in public, a paper certificate for records, and a custom ID badge. Although it is not necessary to register your dog as an assistance tool, it will make matters easier when you are in those public places that don’t usually allow animals.
By law the owners or managers of businesses cannot ask you about your disability. They may only ask if your dog is indeed a Service Dog and if so, what task(s) the dog performs for your disability.
If you are taking your canine to work, your employer must make reasonable accommodations for your Service Dog. This could include breaks for you to take the dog outside to relieve himself, water/food bowls, extra space if a larger breed, etc.
You may learn more about how to handle traveling with your service dog in public by reading this article – Service Dog Laws.
Step #3 – Live With Your Service Dog
Another area where your Service Dog is permitted: in no-pet buildings or apartments. You are permitted by Federal Law to live with your Service Dogs even in the following conditions –
- Your landlord/HOA does not allow for pets
- Your landlord/HOA does not allow to specific breeds such as Pitbulls, Dobermans, or Great Danes.
- Your landlord/HOA has a weight limit (a service dog can be over a 100 lbs)
Your landlord and HOA are not allowed to request the following –
- For you to prove your disability to the
- For your service dog “show” them his task
- To disclose any sensitive medical information
Step #4 – Travel with your Service Dog
Service dogs are also allowed to fly with their handler. Before you travel by air, be sure to book your flight in advance and let the airline know you will be traveling with a Service Dog. Airlines do have specific regulation and seating for those traveling with Service Dogs, especially international flights.
- – Service Dog must be seated on the floor
- – Cannot block the aisle
- – Cannot be near an emergency exit
Some parts of the world like Hawaii have stricter policies when it comes to animals. Check to see if your final destination requires a quarantine period.
You will also want to have all your documentation with you. We recommend carrying your service dog certificate. This is helpful if your disability is not visible.
Are you thinking about taking a cruise? Not all ships will allow animals, so be sure to find out if your ship will accept Service Dogs and their policies for having one aboard. You may not be allowed to bring your service dog if you are traveling to islands that have a protected habitat.