Posts Tagged ‘service dog vest’

Unlike most dogs, Service Dogs go to work every day to fulfill their job in supporting their handlers with their specific needs. Just like humans, to do their work, they might need a uniform and tools to make the job easier. A shopping list of essential supplies for a Service Dog could include the following items: 

Vests ID Cards Paw Mittens and Booties Collar Leash Head Halter Harness Toilet or Waste Kits Clickers Muzzle Toys, Treats, and Relaxation Vests

The vest is an essential Service Dog gear. Although Service Dogs aren’t legally required to wear one, vests do provide a level of authority and convenience. They are also a courtesy to bystanders by visually communicating that a dog is working in an official capacity.

The vest grants entry into an establishment or area where animals would be otherwise be prohibited. The American Disabilities Act allows Service Dogs into any spaces where their owner goes, and a vest alerts everyone that a dog is a Service Dog and must accompany its owner. 

The most popular, and useful, style is the Cape Style Service Dog vest. It’s easy to place over the dog and provides enough areas with pockets. A vest should fit snugly around the dog, without restricting the dog’s movement. The vest should also be padded and made of a non-abrasive material to reduce friction and injury to the dog. 

A patch can be placed on a Service Dog vest to provide further information to others. A “no petting” patch might also help deter people who don’t know that Service Dogs should not be petted while they are at work. Although not necessary, patches can communicate whatever a service dog owner thinks is necessary for others to know.

ID Cards

An ID card is not necessary for a service dog. However, a Service Dog ID Card can provide the following benefits:

Permits access to areas denied to other dogs.  Helps educate the public of the dog’s access rights as Service Dog. Builds confidence to travel with the Service Dog. Provides additional documentation for how long the Service Dog has been in service. Gives access to the Service Dog Registration online, on a mobile device. Paw Mittens and Booties

Service Dogs follow their owners everywhere, and their paws travel on a variety of terrains. Their paws may need protection from hazards like hot pavements and frozen ground.  Paw mittens and booties help to keep their paws free from external injuries.


Service Dogs spend a majority of their day leashed and collared. Collars also identify dogs as Service Dogs, and a dog tag or other accessories can be attached. 

It’s crucial to find a collar that fits correctly and doesn’t abrade the dog’s skin. There are a variety of materials to choose from. It’s best to select collars based on the dog’s tasks and what kind of dog breed they are. 

Boxer Service Dog with a vest, collar, and leash, taking a rest. Leash

Service Dogs are exceptionally well trained and will not leave their owner’s side. However, for the comfort and reassurance of the public, leashing a Service Dog is necessary when out and about. Leashes come in a wide range of lengths, though the recommended length is 4-6 feet.  

What type of material to choose for a leash depends on the dog breed and task. For example, a large service dog that helps to maneuver a wheelchair may require a sturdier, thicker leash. 

Head Halter

Typically, head halters are devices used in the training of Service Dog puppies. However, head halters can also be useful in cases where owners may be unable to communicate with a Service Dog. The head halters allow an owner to give immediate directions, without the need for verbal or visual cues, just by tugging at the halter. 

Show everyone that the rights of your Service Dog should be respected. Get your Service Dog registered.


A harness provides a way for Service Dogs to pull their owner or guide them out of an area. A harness also allows a Service Dog to pull on a wheelchair or provide balance to its handler.  The harness spreads pressure throughout the chest and shoulders of a Service Dog, allowing the dog to manage heavy weights without injury.

Supplies your Service Dog might require. Toilet or Waste Kits 

Even Service Dogs have little “accidents”. Although very rare, a Service Dog may be unable to hold their business for later or may unexpectedly become ill. In these situations, having a waste kit on hand can make life a whole lot easier for both, the owner and the service dog. 

Dog waste kits can contain plastic waste bags, a waterproof pad, towel wipes, and hand sanitizer. Owners can add whatever else they feel might be necessary to provide a quick clean up. 


Clickers are mainly a training device for Service Dogs. They’re called “clickers” because they emit a clicking sound initiated by the trainer. The clicking sound provides immediate feedback, instead of a positive verbal response from the owner, which may be confusing for a puppy. For example, a trainer may initiate a clicking sound immediately after a dog sits after he’s asked to “sit.” The dog identifies the clicking sound as positive feedback that he performed the task correctly. 

A fully-equipped Service Dog on duty. Muzzle

Because Service Dogs undergo extensive training, they don’t require muzzles. Though muzzles aren’t necessary for Service Dogs, they do have a role in certain situations. When in extremely crowded areas or locations where there may be numerous unsupervised children, a muzzle can provide any bystanders with a sense of security. Some people are fearful of dogs in general, and having a muzzle on a Service Dog can provide a degree of reassurance for the public. If a muzzle impedes on a Service Dog’s tasks, however, then the muzzle is not recommended for use. 

Service Dogs are trained to be non-violent and tolerate any situation. However, if a Service Dog is injured, a muzzle may be required. Even the most well-trained dogs may bark, nip or bite when they have an injury. 

Toys, Treats, and Relaxation 

At the end of the day, Service Dogs are just like humans—they need to rest. When they’re off duty, Service Dogs are just like any other dogs. They enjoy playing with toys, being silly, and letting their pent up energy loose. Toys and activity are good for their wellbeing and make for better Service Dogs. 

Healthy treats can provide positive re-enforcement for dogs and promote bonding with owners. Making time for relaxation and allowing Service Dogs time off to be regular dogs creates a work-life balance—something even Service Dogs need. 

A Service Dog in his favorite collar having some off time at the beach. Conclusion 

Service Dogs don’t require a ton of expensive gear, but they do need the basics. Some voluntary items, like a harness and vest, may depend on the owner’s needs and wishes. Others, like an ID card or a legitimate certification, can help handlers build more confidence bringing their Service Dog along.

But never forget, although Service Dogs take care of humans, they also need to be taken care of simply as a dog. Despite all the training and supplies, a Service Dog needs understanding, nurturing, care, and some time off to be a dog.

Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), service dog owners have special legal rights. The ADA allows service dogs to accompany people with disabilities in all areas where the public is allowed to go. This includes businesses such as stores and restaurants, and public areas such as parks, beaches, and libraries

Under the ADA, a disability is defined as someone who has “a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities” or “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.”

Owners of service dogs use their animals to help with a wide variety of disabilities. Generally, the disability can be:

A physical disability, such as mobility issues, blindness, and hearing impairment. A psychiatric condition, such as panic disorder, severe depression, and PTSD.

Regardless of the type of disability the owner has, the service dog must be trained to work or perform tasks related to the disability. In the article, we will address four specific topics.

#1 – A service dog must have special training #2 – Registrations, IDs, vests and other accessories are frequently used and helpful, but optional  #3 – Service dogs have special rights for housing #4 – Service dogs can travel with their handlers, even on flights #1 – A service dog must have special training

By definition, a service dog must be individually trained to work or perform tasks for a person with a disability. The task that the service dog is trained to perform must be directly related to the owner’s disability.

For example, a service dog can be trained to assist a visually impaired person walk around in public environments or to pull a wheelchair for someone with limited mobility. Service dogs also help people with psychiatric conditions by performing tasks such as reminding their owners to take medication or providing pressure therapy during panic or anxiety attacks. 

In addition to the special training a service dog needs to help with a person’s disability, it’s also important for the service dog to master basic obedience training. Under ADA rules, a service dog must always be under the control of its handler. Service dogs must be harnessed, leashed, or tethered (unless it prevents the service dog from effectively performing its tasks). If the use of a harness, leash, or tether is unsuitable, the owner must maintain control of their service dog through voice, signal, or other means. 

A good service dog should be able to maintain discipline and focus on its owner in public areas, especially those that are busy and filled with potentially distracting stimuli. It can be useful to subject the service dog to a public access test to ensure that is ready to enter public environments filled with people, animals, and other distractions. 

A service dog can be trained by a professional or by the handler. There is no requirement to hire a professional or to take any particular course — if the handler is capable, they can train their service dog on their own. Training a dog to perform tasks reliably for a disability takes time, patience, and know-how. 

If you have limited knowledge and experience in training a canine, you may want to consider enlisting the help of a professional dog trainer. A dog trainer can be helpful even if you plan to do most of the training yourself — they can give you a framework for training and useful tips. 

#2 – Registrations, IDs, vests and other accessories are frequently used and helpful, but optional 

When you see a service dog owner out in public, you will often see the dog wearing a vest, and the handler will have an identification card that likely contains a registration number.

Service dog handlers commonly use Service Dog IDs and vest primarily for a couple of reasons:

They help indicate to others in the public that their dog is a working service animal that should not be bothered They help maintain privacy by curbing unwanted and intrusive inquiries about the service dog.

One common misconception regarding service dogs is that there is a legal requirement for them to be registered or to wear a vest. Some people also think that an identification card is mandatory for service dog owners. Contrary to these beliefs, service dog owners are not required to register their dogs, carry IDs, or have their service dogs wear vests.

Service dog owners use these items voluntarily because they are useful. A staff person at a public establishment however cannot demand that a service dog owner show an ID card or put a vest on their dog in order to be granted accommodation on the premises. Many service dog owners find ID cards and vests essential for being out in public. Most people are unaware of the specific details regarding ADA rules, and these tools provide an easy shortcut for service dog handlers to indicate that their dog is not a normal pet. If you’re interested in registering your service dog in a database, you can get started by clicking on the link below.

Once your dog is registered, you can order a service dog ID card, service dog certification, and even order a service dog vest. Again, while these items are optional, many service dog owners find them incredibly helpful. 

All service dog owners should understand they have a right to privacy when they are out in public. If it is obvious what service the service dog provides, staff at a public establishment are not allowed to make any inquiries regarding your service dog. If it is not obvious what service the dog provides, staff can only ask two questions:

Is the dog a service animal required because of a disability, and if so, What work or task has the dog been trained to perform.

They can’t ask a service dog owner for further details regarding their disability or require that the handler demonstrate that the dog can perform the task it has been trained for. 

#3 – Service dogs have special rights for housing

Service dogs have special housing rights that are not granted to normal pets. If you are a service dog owner, you are permitted under Fair Housing rules to live with your service dog, even if your building has a strict policy that bans all pets. For purposes of Fair Housing laws, service dogs are not considered pets, and any policy that may apply to pets are inapplicable. 

For example, if the building allows pets but not dogs over 50 pounds, or the building bans certain breeds such as Pitbulls or Great Danes, those rules do not apply to service dogs. A housing provider cannot prevent a tenant from keeping a service dog in their home because the dog is of a certain breed or weight. 

A landlord can only deny accommodation of a service dog in limited circumstances, such as if they determine that the service dog poses a safety or health threat to others. As with all service dogs, landlords can only verify a disabled person’s need for a service dog by asking the two questions discussed in the previous section. Unlike an emotional support animal which requires a letter of recommendation from a licensed healthcare professional, a service dog does not need any documented credentials. 

#4 – Service dogs can travel with their handlers, even on flights

Service dogs are also allowed to travel and fly with their handler. This means they can ride on public transportation such as trains and buses, and also in taxis. Under the Air Carrier Access Act, service dogs are allowed to accompany their owners in the airplane cabin as well.

Travelling can be a stressful experience for any dog. It’s important that a service dog has been trained to handle situations such as crowded airports, trains, and airplane cabins. A service can be denied accommodation if it is disruptive and not under the control of its handler. Service dogs intended to be used for travel should be exposed to a wide variety of situations, so they remain calm when faced with novel environments. It’s important to properly acclimate a service dog for the type of journey you’re taking. For example, it’s recommended to start with shorter trips on a plane or the bus so your service dog can learn to maintain their composure when flying with you through turbulence on longer trips or on a bus or train when it is crowded and bumpy.

If you are ready to register your service dog, click on the image below.
Do you know what to do and say when you are traveling with your Service Dog?

Taking the step to adopt and train a service dog is tough work. The bond a handler and a service dog develops is one of the deepest and most meaningful relationships that exist.

A challenge many service dog handlers face is how to travel and enter public spaces with their service dog. Especially at places with a no-pet policy. Restaurants, hotels, and airports are typically better informed about service dog laws. However, places like the beach, movie theaters, and schools are less informed about service dog rights. It also brings up specific questions that may be hard to answer.

Is my service dog required to wear a vest? What if my service dog is denied access?

The most important step is to understand service dog laws clearly.  We have included a few tips on how to handle and work with hostile employees who are aggressive or ignorant about your service dog.

Service Dog Question #1- What should I say when an employee asks me about my service dog?

The first step is to assess if the person is aware of service dog rules and regulations.

If they are aware of service dog rights, simply inform them that you are traveling with a certified service dog, and confirm the task your service dog provides. Thank them for asking politely and proceed with your day. If they are not aware, show them your service dog certification or license. Inform them that your dog is a trained service dog and has public access rights. Let them know that your dog will not interrupt business practices and will remain by your side, as permitted by federal law. If they remain hostile towards your service dog and deny you access, refer them to Service Dog Certifications for more information on service dog laws. Let them know that they are violating your rights and are openly discriminating against your disability by preventing you access. Ask them to speak to their manager and stay firm but calm and polite. By staying firm and helping them understand service dog rights, you are helping other service dog handlers avoid negative confrontations in the future. Service Dog Question #2- Do I need a Service Dog vest? A convenient way to avoid this issue is to order a service dog vest for your service dog. This will help communicate visually that your dog is not a pet and is a trained service dog. This may help eliminate some verbal confrontations as there is a visual indicator that your dog is a service dog. This is particularly helpful for people suffering from PTSD, social anxiety, or any invisible disabilities. If you choose not to have your service dog wear a service dog vest, that is your legal right. Some people choose not to have their service dog wear a vest because it is uncomfortable for the dog and distracts them from performing their task. Others choose not to have their service dog wear a vest because they are not comfortable with broadcasting that they have a disability. Remember, not all disabilities are visible and no one should be judged for trying to improve their lives. If the person you are speaking to demands that your dog wears a service dog vest,  inform them that you choose not to have your service dog wear a vest but that you have your service dog certification or identification to share with them. If they continue to insist that your service dog wear a vest, inform them that the ADA does not require your service dog wear a vest and even specifically prevents companies from requiring this. Ask the person to speak with their manager or refer to service dog rights on Service Dog Certifications. Service Dog Question #3- People are provoking my Service Dog, can the property ask us to leave?

Your service dog needs to be in your control at all times and cannot bark or cause a disturbance in public. However, the ADA also specifically states that a service dog may respond by barking if provoked and is not deemed a disturbance if the barking was provoked. If this is happening to you, inform a store employee that your service dog is being harassed and request they assist you. Examples of provoking include:

Aggressively staring at your dog Touching your service dog without permission Whistling and talking at your dog in a menacing way Service Dog Question #4-  Can a person ask me why I need a service dog if I am not blind or in a wheel chair?

No one is ever allowed to ask you specifically about your disability. They may only ask you two questions regarding your Service Dog.

Is that a service dog (if you choose not to have your SD wear a vest)? What service(s) does your service dog provide? (They may not ask you to demonstrate your dog’s service) Service Dog Question #5- Should I carry a service dog license?

You are not legally required to have a Service Dog Licensed, Registered, or Certified. Many handlers prefer to carry one to avoid harassment while out in public. Unfortunately, service dog rights are not common knowledge and people often assume your dog is NOT a service dog unless you carry a Service Dog identification card. You may choose to order one and register your service dog to avoid confrontations with ignorant store employees.