Posts Tagged ‘service dog identification’

If you suffer from an emotional or physical disability you may be wondering what qualifies a dog to be a service dog. In this post, we will answer that question and give you some facts you will want to know when getting a canine for the purpose of service.

Can My Dog Be a Service Dog?

Many people ask the question of whether their current dog can be a service dog? The answer to this question is dependant on what you need your service dog to do for you. If you have a dog for emotional support or to help you with stress and/or anxiety, then there are no restrictions on the canine companion. In fact, an emotional support animal (ESA) can be anything from a snake to a horse but know there are restrictions on this type of “service” animal.

However, if you require a dog to do more than just offer comfort, then you will need the canine to be properly trained to do the tasks required. For example, if the dog has to pull a wheelchair, then a Chihuahua will not be considered a service dog as it simply would not have the strength to complete this task.

Obedience Training

Whether you train your dog yourself or enlist the help of an agency or professional trainer, your service dog must be obedience trained. This entails the basic commands of sit, stay, come, down, drop, heel and leave. Depending on the breed of dog you have chosen or already have this can take weeks to months to accomplish.

Socialization Skills

Another important quality your service dog must possess is socialization skills. A skittish, hyperactive or unruly dog will not do well as a service dog. Your dog must be quiet, calm, relaxed, alert, and of course, friendly.

Work Tasks

To qualify as a service dog your canine must be able to demonstrate the ability to do the work tasks that you cannot do for yourself. This can include fetching medicine bottles, opening drawers, or even alerting you to a drop in your blood sugars or of an oncoming seizure.

Public Access Training

How your dog acts in public areas is crucial to having a service dog. These working dogs must not respond to any of the noise, commotion, chaos, food smells or people when out with its handler. This type of training may take several months before your dog is desensitized to hustle-and-bustle of being in a public place. Some dogs may never have the ability for this type of public access training and therefore would not be considered a service dog.

Service Dog Rules

Because a service dog is there to help the handler there are rules your dog must follow when out in public. These include;

No sniffing of people or merchandise No barking at people or other animals No begging for food or table scraps No jumping onto people or objects No lunging at passing people or other animals No overexcited or hyperactive behavior No eliminating in an inappropriate area. Dogs must learn to relieve themselves on command. Handler’s Behavior

There are a lot of rules for a service dog to follow, but what about the handler? Some agencies may have you sign a form that both you and your service dog will behave accordingly when out in public. This can include;

Being prepared to answer the questions of “is the dog a service dog and what task does it perform for you?” Being polite, confident and courteous even if the people you are dealing with are not familiar with the American Disability Act and service dogs.

Although it is not required by law, a service dog vest and/or badge is helpful when taking your working dog out into the public. You may also register your service dog with a reputable organization. This informs people at a glance that your dog is there to provide you with a service and not just a pet you are trying to “break the rules” with.

Service Dog Qualification Is a Process

Having a properly trained and accredited service dog is a process that takes time. Even though you can take an ordinary dog and turn it into a service dog, it will have to exhibit the qualities it takes to do this important work. It is also highly recommended to start your service dog training when your dog is just a puppy. Teaching an “old dog new tricks” will be much tougher, and he may not be able to accomplish all the tasks and training required to be a full-fledged service dog.

When you have a service dog, there are a lot of things to think about including diet, service dog training, and believe it or not, wardrobe.  The type of vest your service dog wears is actually a big decision and it has a lot of factors to consider.  Those factors include the weather where you live, the type of dog you have, and your lifestyle.  Today, let’s look at 4 favorites and which dogs they fit best.

First there is the Tiny Service Dog Cape Vest.  This one is made for all your littlest companions.  Most of the dogs that would use this vest would fall into the teacup, toy, or mini range with a chest girth of 11″-24″ which spans all 4 sizes available.  This is your most basic mesh vest.  It can be used for therapy dogs, service dogs, or emotional support dogs. A patch can be added to clarify what type of working dog is wearing the vest.  The material is very lightweight though still durable.  IT is also edged in reflective material to help make your dog more visible.

Next, let’s look at the Regular Service Dog Cape Vest. This one is like the Tiny Service Dog Cape Vest, just in a larger size.  This one is for dogs with a chest girth of 26″-34″ and comes in 2 size options.  Like the smaller version, it is made of high quality, lightweight mesh trimmed in reflective material.  One of the most attractive features about this basic vest is the cost since this one is going to be at the lowest price point.  This is really a determining factor for some, especially when working from a budget.

Third, there is the Reflective Service Dog Harness Vest.  This one is made of 2 layers of industrial high denier cross-link mesh making it even more heavy duty.  It also has the reflective edging for visibility.  One really nice added feature of this vest is the welded rings.  There are 3 of them which are great for attaching your dog’s service ID card, and a leach.  This vest also can be labeled with patches denoting service dog, therapy dog, or emotional support animal.  This is also a great choice for large dogs with 4 sizes that range from 24″ to 42″ which is a massive chest girth.  It is important to remember that the cross-linked mesh does make the vest less breathable so it could make temperature a factor for your service dog especially in warmer climates.

Finally, there is the Alpha Service Dog Harness Vest.  This one is top of the line and also the best service dog vest, which also means that it comes with a slightly higher price tag.  First it is padded for maximum comfort.  This one also moves away from mesh into poly coated fabric making it water resistant as well as seriously durable.  Like the Reflective Service Dog Harness Vest, it comes with the 3 welded rings for ID and leashes but it also features a handle.  This one comes with 2 patches to clearly identify whether you have a therapy dog, service dog, or emotional support dog.  It also comes in 4 sizes from 20”-42”.  The one thing this one lacks it reflective edging so that may be a deciding factor if you and your animal spend a lot of time outdoors at night.

Making sure that people clearly know you have a working dog is such a benefit to you and your service dog.  A service dog vest is an easy way to convey that information to those you may encounter as part of your life and travels.  These service dog vests do the job in style with the comfort of your animal in focus.

Remember, a vest is not just for a service dogs. You can use a different patch for your Emotional Support Animal or Therapy Dog!

Tiny Service Dog Mesh Cape Vest

Regular Service Dog Cape Vest

Reflective Service Dog Vest

Classic Service Dog Harness Vest

 

Traveling can be an ordeal for anyone but when you are traveling with a service dog, it can be nearly overwhelming. While the truth of the matter is that there are only 2 questions that you should potentially be asked legally, the reality is that you may face some serious obstacles when traveling with your service dog. This is in large part because many people are unaware of the role a service dog plays and unfortunately, the common misconception that all disabilities are visible. That doesn’t mean that you have to stay home all the time, but it does mean you should know your rights and be ready to defend them if the need should ever arise. Registration of your service dog can help with alleviating the pain of having to explain your need for an assistance animal.

Service Dog Registration Rights

Let’s take a look at some steps you can take to make these problems easier to overcome and help alleviate some of the stress.

First, let’s look at those 2 questions. They are as follows:

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

You do not have to disclose anything about your medical condition or diagnosis. This is confidential medical information and not required to be disclosed to employees at restaurants, airlines, or any other place you may travel with your companion.

Although it is not required, you may aid in the ease of acceptance of your service dog if you make sure he or she included in a service dog registry. Another great step is to make sure your dog is well identified. This can be done with the aid of vests or certificates and by entering your information on a service dog registration that clearly states your dog is a service dog. All of these make it clear even from a distance and despite appearances that your dog is not a pet, it is a working animal. You can also carry a service dog identification card that shows your dog is a registered service animal and present it when asked.

Presenting your Service Dog Identification Card

Once you present employees with identification for your service dog, they will typically stop harassing you. However , even if you take every possible step to ease the travel experience, you may still come across those who are uninformed and unwilling to accept your service dog. When this happens, you have no other option but to stand up for your rights and defend the use of your animal in that location. Of course, this is never the most ideal and pleasant situation so it is left here as a last resort only. If the issue is with staff, ask to speak with management, if the issue is with management, ask for the top person. Don’t be afraid to stand your ground even if a threat is made to call the police. In fact, the calling or arrival of law enforcement will usually resolve your issue.

Of course everyone hopes they will never encounter a problem, but it is nice to know what to do if an issue arises. Traveling with a service dog can have its disadvantages especially when dealing with people who are not familiar with the work these types of animals do. Knowing your rights, being proactive in making sure your helper is on ServiceDogCertifications.org, and having identification ready are all ways to make travel as simple and hassle free as possible. Try to remember that most opposition you run into is more likely to be about a lack of understanding than a real problem with your service dog. This is a great time to educate the general public on the important role these dogs play in your world and the lives of so many others with disabilities both seen and unseen.

Register your Service Dog here with Service Dog Certifications.