Service Dog Certification Guide
Service Dog Certification Guide
In order to qualify your dog as a service dog, you will have to train your dog to provide a service or task for your disability. Certified service dogs are allowed access everywhere their handler is allowed access. Unfortunately, a landlord or an employee at a store may choose to ask if your Service Dog is certified. If they do, it is important that you understand Service Dog rights so you are not denied housing rights or public access. Although the ADA states that they are not allowed to ask for registration proof, what are your options if they do?
Step #1 – Do You Qualify For a Service Dog?
Service Dogs are clearly defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act. A Service Animal is a dog or a miniature horse that is specifically trained to perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability. The disabilities may include physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability.
If your disabilities meet the ADA’s definition, you can qualify for a legitimate Service Dog. You are not required to show your landlord a doctor’s note. You are required to inform your landlord how your Service Dog aids with your disability.
Step #2 – Training your Service Dog to Aid in your Physical Disability
Under the ADA there are several impairments that would qualify you for a Service Dog certification. Below are a few examples but they are not a catch-all. Each person’s disability is different so the assistance they need from their Service Dog will be unique as well.
The tasks performed by Service Dog may include:
- 1). Guide Dog – provides guiding service for the visually impaired
- 2). Hearing Dog – trained to alert the person to sounds or alarms
- 3). Seizure Response Dog – alerts to oncoming seizure or stands over the person during an episode
- 4). Sensory Signal Dog – alerts the autistic person to repetitive movements (such as hand flapping) providing a distraction
Although not specifically listed under the ADA, a Service Dog would be useful to those with limited mobility. The tasks could include retrieving dropped items or those that are located further away. The assistance animal may also provide stability to those with balance issues.
Service Dogs are now also being trained to alert people with diabetes to a drop in their insulin levels. This preventative measure is especially useful for children that may not be as in tune with their condition.
Step #3 – Training your Service Dog to Aid in your Emotional Disability
People who suffer from certain types of mental disabilities can also qualify for a Service Dog under the ADA’s definition. These canines are listed as Psychiatric Service Dogs, which have been specially trained to detect and lessen the effects of psychiatric episodes.
The tasks performed by Psychiatric Service Dog may include:
● 1). Reminding the handler to take medicine and bringing the medicine box to their handler
● 2). Providing safety checks/room searches, turning on lights and creating a barrier for PTSD patients
● 3). Interrupting anxiety attacks by persons with anxiety caused in busy social setting such as a shopping mall
● 4). Keeping disoriented individuals from danger through tactic stimulation such as licking of the face or laying across their body
While there are other types of assistance animals such as those used in therapy work and those that provide comfort (Emotional Support Animals) they are not technically considered Service Animals under the ADA definition.
An Emotional Support Animal can certainly help those that suffer from depression, anxiety, and other emotional issues; however, they are not given the full access rights the Service Dog is allowed.
Step #4 – Good Citizen Training For Service Dogs
As mentioned above, the Service Dog can be trained to perform a host of tasks. The canine can be taught by the individual with the disability or by a professional. In addition to specific task-oriented training, a service dog should also be well behaved at all times. You can either train your service yourself or seek support from a local trainer.
Certification of the Service Dog
It is not necessary by law to register your Service Dog. However, many people choose to register their Service Dog and get their certification papers.
A certified Service Dog will be entered into a global database. They should be provided with a Service Dog vest to wear and custom Service Dog ID license. Depending on what area of the world you live in, you may also be required to purchase a dog license, just as any other pet owner would have to do.
Having the proper identification of your person and your Service Dog will cut down on the hassle you may run into with businesses, housing, and public transportation.
Love of a Service Dog Works
Don’t live another day struggling with a disability when there’s a Service Dog waiting to help you. These specially trained canines are giving back freedom and independence to disabled individuals all over the globe. Ask your medical health professional if a Service Dog could work for you, too.