How To Make Your Dog a Service Dog: A Step-By-Step Guide
Service dogs are unique animals that provide assistance to persons with disabilities. However, there are processes on how to make your dog a service dog.
We understand that people with disabilities require the assistance of a service animal and in instances when your pet is not one, you must learn how to train it to be a service dog.
In this article, you will learn about the requirements, processes, and things to watch out for in order to make your dog a service animal.
Also, we further explained if there is a need for a service dog to have any form of certification or registration.
If this is the information you need, ensure you go through the details of this article from start to finish before making your pet a service animal.
Now let’s go into details as we find out what a service dog truly stands for.
You may also like to read about Emotional Support Animals (Everything You Need to Know).
What is a service dog?
A service dog is defined as “a dog that is individually trained to do tasks or execute duties for a person with a disability,” according to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
Service dogs undergo training to carry out specific tasks that aid in the mitigation of a person’s disability.
The disability of the person is what determines the type of task the dog will perform.
Guide dogs, for example, assist blind and visually impaired people in navigating their surroundings.
Hearing dogs assist deaf and hard-of-hearing people by alerting them to important sounds.
Mobility dogs help people who use wheelchairs, or walking aids or have balance problems.
Medical alert dogs can also inform the owner of the presence of allergies, mark the onset of a medical concern such as a seizure or low blood sugar, and perform a variety of other tasks.
Although, a service animal must be of a particular size to comfortably and effectively carry out tasks for a person with disabilities.
But before we look into that, let’s find out the requirements for getting a service dog.
What are the requirements for getting a service dog?
Individuals with disabilities are the only people that have the option of training a pet to become a service dog.
If you’re thinking about getting a service animal, there are a few things you should know;
- It is only a person who has physical and mental disabilities that is eligible for a service animal.
- At all times, a service dog must behave well.
- You must teach your service animal how to assist people with disabilities by performing certain duties.
- If the aid the dog provides to its handler is not obvious, the handler will have to answer two questions regarding the animal.
Although, you can identify a service animal by the accessories on the handler as well as the dog.
Continue reading to learn about the two questions that a dog owner will have to answer.
But before that, let’s find out how to make your dog a service animal.
Don’t fail to also read about American Airlines Pet Policy to learn whether you can fly with your service dog.
How Do I Make My Dog a Service Dog?
To assist you to understand how your pet can become a service dog, we’ve outlined three basic stages.
1. Determine the Service Dog Personality and Abilities
In the process of trying to make your pet a service animal, you have to consider if the dog’s personality fits your needs.
Because some dogs actually lack the characteristics to be effective service animals. For example, a chihuahua will not be able to help a person in a wheelchair.
Due to its nature, it may be capable of performing other modest tasks, but it will not assist with mobility.
Furthermore, health is also another important consideration. Your dog must not be sick or have any form of disability that would prevent them from doing its tasks.
Aside from meeting the physical qualifications of a service animal, the pet you choose as a support animal must also have the appropriate temperament.
Here are some of the qualities your service animal should have:
- Keeping cool in unfamiliar situations.
- Quickly absorbing and remembering knowledge.
- Adapting to various social situations.
- Repeating specific duties with consistency.
- Ability to concentrate on yourself.
2. Find a Trainer You Trust or Train your Dog Your Self
If you believe your dog is capable of doing things as well as the physical responsibilities you require, you should begin by training it yourself
This should give the dog the ability to get familiar with the type of task you want it to do in order to alleviate your disability.
Your dog should be able to prove it can accomplish whatever task your disability prevents you from accomplishing.
That said, if you are not able to self-train your dog, you can seek assistance from those who specialize in such activities.
This way your pet will be able to give you the assistance you require from a service animal and more.
3. Socialize Your Service Dog
When you’re confident in your dog’s abilities and it’s been through training, the next stage is to educate it on how to socialize.
Your dog should always focus on you and learn to avoid any form of distractions.
When outside with other animals, people, scents, sounds, and unusual situations.
Following this training, it is essential for your dog to know how to socialize in order to behave responsibly in public.
Here’s a quick rundown of some key requirements for your dog to meet:
- There should be no violent behavior against humans or other animals.
- No sniffing on other people except there is permission for it to do.
- There will be no public urination unless a specific order is made.
- While on duty, there will be no requests for food or affection.
- There will be no excessive excitement or agitation in public.
- It should be capable of tolerating new sights and sounds in a variety of public places.
- There will be no misbehavior or excessive barking.
Further things to note when training your service dog
You can choose to wear a harness that indicates your dog’s unique status to identify him as a service animal.
Many dogs are trained to wear a harness and understand that when it’s on, it’s time to work, and when it’s off, it’s time to relax.
A harness will assist your dog in understanding its function better.
It also helps to teach the general public that your service animal is a working dog, not a pet, and should not have any form of distraction, caress, or playing while he is working.
However, you choose to begin your journey with a service dog, whether you hire a trainer, or do it alone, keep in mind that your unique needs will help you select the best path for you.
Now you know the requirements involve in how to make your pet a service animal, there are other things you should check out in the process.
Things to Watch Out For When Making Your Pet a Service Animal
Below are some things you need to watch out for in the process of making your pet a service animal.
1. Know the Law
There are a variety of programs that offer service animal certification. These certificates, however, do not guarantee that the dog is a service animal.
Unlike an emotional support animal that needs an ESA letter for validation because an ESA can be any domestic animal of a person’s choice.
But under Title II and III of the ADA law, service animals are only limited to dogs.
In fact, the ADA does not need any kind of certification or confirmation that your service animal has been properly trained.
2. Do a background check on the training program
If you decide to enroll your dog in a training program, conduct sufficient research to ensure that it is reliable.
Training programs can be expensive, so making sure that the program is worth the price is important.
Check out for referrals and online reviews as it might help you and your dog have the greatest experience.
3. Make sure you can answer these two questions.
According to ADA laws, it says that when a person with a service animal (dog) enters a public accommodation, the person cannot be asked about the nature or extent of his disability.
Only two questions may be asked:
- Is the animal required because of a disability?
- What work or task has the animal been trained to perform?
You must be able to answer both questions appropriately for people to see your pet as a service animal.
Once your has gone through all the stages and proper training, your next step should be how you prefer to identify your service dog in the public space.
4. Make sure you understand the registration requirements.
According to the ADA, mandatory registration of service animals is unconstitutional.
Any jurisdiction that claims otherwise is in violation of the ADA. However, service animals are subject to regional registration and vaccination requirements.
Although, you can still acquire an ID on the vest that your dog can wear around its body or a lanyard around the owner’s neck or elsewhere.
This is important because it helps reduce the conversation about why you are carrying a dog into an establishment that prohibits dogs.
Also, it’s vital to note that the ADA completely relies on the dog owner for training.
Hence, your service animal is a service animal as long as it can meet your needs.
Service Animal Registration and Certification.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) does not require you to register your service dog.
In fact, the ADA Act contains guidelines for what questions company owners can ask you about your dog and disability.
If your disability is not obvious, a business or employee can only ask two questions that have been answered in this article. You can scroll up to read about it.
Certifications, IDs, and registrations do not give any rights under the ADA, and they are not accepted as proof that a dog is a service animal by government agencies.
Unfortunately, many public employees will still want an ID or other forms of tangible confirmation of service animal status.
So, to set proper boundaries with strangers, some service dog handlers find it useful to own accessories or documents to help show that their dog is a service dog.
By so doing you can prevent hostility and confusion when traveling or in public spaces.
In conclusion, under the ADA rule, your service dog does not need any form of certification or registration.
A service dog has a lot of benefits to offer to a person with disabilities especially when the dog has gone through the right training.
Although for a service animal to perform its duties effectively there are some requirements and abilities the dog must possess.
That said, a service animal that is well trained can help guide a blind person, assist a deaf person, help with mobility as well as assist a person in taking their medications.
Also, the dog will be able to comport itself in public and they have no restrictions in public places except the handler’s condition is not obvious.
This will lead to the handler answering two questions according to ADA rules.
So, you can go over this article again to get the full information on how to make your pet a service dog.
Frequently Asked Questions
- Pets.webmd.com – How to Make Your Dog a Service Dog
- Servicedogscertifications.org – Service dogs Requirements.