It’s that time of year again, back to school! As you are hurrying around getting all of your school supplies in order and planning for the year ahead, make sure that you spend some time making sure your Service Dog is all set-up for the new school year as well.
When it comes to Service Dogs or Service Dogs in Training with public access, there are definite things Service Dogs in public should and should not do. Learn more about how well-trained Service Dogs should appear and what U.S. Service Dog law says about dogs who don't quite possess the skills necessary to safely work in public
Although many people know that you are not supposed to pet Service Dogs when they are working, few understand the reasoning behind this rule. Even fewer people realize that you should not DISTRACT an assistance dog in ANY WAY.
When it comes to Emotional Support Animals, misconceptions and myths abound. People often believe Service Dogs and ESAs are the same things, with similar access rights. However, nothing could be further from the truth. Emotional Support Animals aren't Service Dogs, they don't have public access, and they don't require specialized training. Keep reading and dig into the nitty-gritty facts about ESAs. Emotional Support Dogs Don't Have Public Access Contrary to popular belief and pop culture, Emotional Support Animals don't possess public access rights. They do not belong in grocery stores, restaurants, or in places of public accommodation. This includes hospitals, doctors offices, pharmacies, and other medical environments. Nothing grants ESAs public access rights, not even a vest or an ID card, because, under U.S. federal law, ESAs do not have public access rights. Period. End of story. ESAs may accompany their handlers only in places where pets are allowed, with a couple of notable exceptions -- housing and air transport. ESAs Have Access to Housing and Air Transport (But Only With Proper Documentation) Two exceptions exist to the "no public access" rule for ESAs -- housing and air travel. With proper documentation, an ESA with the appropriate temperament and training may be allowed to accompany their handler during flights and in no-pets-allowed housing. Documentation standards can vary, but generally speaking, airlines require proof of the handler's need for the ESA, adherence to behavioral and training standards, proof of vaccinations, and advanced notification of intent to travel. For housing, most landlords require a letter from a person's doctor or psychiatrist, proof of vaccinations, and a signed statement of liability. ESA status does not exempt someone for being responsible for any damages caused by their ESA. ESAs Don't Require Specialized Training (Unless They Do) Unlike Service Animals, Emotional Support Animals don't (usually) require specialized training. If someone plans on traveling via air with their ESA, though, then their ESA must meet training and behavioral guidelines. They must be capable of working safely in public, which means no timidity, no fear, no aggression, no out of control behavior, and no excessive vocalizing. Emotional Support Animals Aren't Service Dogs Emotional Support Animals, including Emotional Support Dogs, are not Service Dogs. Let's say it again for the people in the back -- ESAs differ from Service Dogs. While ESAs add value to their handler's lives, legally, they have the same rights as pets, unlike Service Dogs. Service Dogs receive accommodation under America's disability
Brace and Mobility Support Dogs are a type of Service Dog trained to provide their disabled handler with assistance moving from place to place. This invaluable service is matched only by these dogs’ ability to also help with other chores and tasks, like opening doors or retrieving dropped items. Due to the unique nature of their work, though, Brace and Mobility Support Dogs have special needs. Read on to learn more!
Before partnering with a Service Dog, there are several important points to consider. While thousands of individuals with a disability benefit greatly from partnering with a Service Dog, it’s not the solution for everyone. If you or a loved one is considering full-time Service Dog partnership, please ask yourself the following 5 questions before making a final decision.
At some point, Service Dogs in Training progress to public access training. How do you know, though, if your Service Dog in Training is ready for public access? Fortunately, that question has an easy answer. Learn about the types of behaviors and skills your SDiT needs before starting work in public. Important: Answer questions honestly in order to avoid stress. You gain nothing by beginning public access work with a puppy or dog who isn't ready. Furthermore, you can actually do more harm than good to your dog by starting too soon. Foundation, foundation, foundation. Can your SDiT focus around distractions? Fighting for your Service Dog in Training's attention while working in public is not at all enjoyable. Before beginning public access training, your SDiT should already have some foundation focus work. You should know what kinds of reinforcement work well for your SDiT and be able to manage their attention well. While no SDiT is perfect, in order to begin public access training, your partner should easily redirect attention back to you with a bit of prompting, increased distance from the distraction, and high value treats. Additionally, your Service Dog in Training needs to be more interested in you than what's going on around them. Public access training is not the time to introduce distractions -- that should be done in a controlled environment. Until your partner is able to focus on you, or, at the least, redirect attention back to you reliably on request, then stick with working foundation skills in pet-friendly places. It's ok for your dog to be interested in what's going on around them, but you should be easily able to re-secure their focus. As time goes on, you want your SDiT to be relaxed and focused on you no matter what's going on around you. Does your SDiT have reliable obedience and manners? Your Service Dog in Training needs reliable obedience and basic manners. Public access training involves learning public access skills. While that does include practicing foundational behaviors like sit or stays in new places and with increasing amounts of distraction, your SDiT needs to learn the basics at home or in class before trying them in public. Your time in public is not the time to teach beginner obedience. Furthermore, you shouldn't be working on manners in public. You should reinforce good manners, but if your puppy or dog is struggling with something like jumping or inappropriate sniffing, then work
As the holidays wrap up, it's a great time to reflect on your 2018 and resolve to do better in 2019. Here are ten simple steps that will help you and your Service Dog become a better team. Happy New Year! 2019 Service Dog Goals: Check Your Gear Is your Service Dog gear clean, serviceable and still relevant to your needs? Now is a great time to sit in a warm house and clean gear, spruce up those leather harnesses with some saddle soap, and make sure that that really nice backpack doesn't chafe your partner's underarms. Check the fit of collars, boots, coats, and other working gear. Make sure ID tags are up to date. Since you're probably working on taxes or your budget for the coming year - now's a good time to consider if you'll need to replace or upgrade any gear in the coming year. 2019 Service Dog Goals: Make a Service Dog Binder This is more important than it sounds. Include things like a current vaccination record, microchip information. AKC, breeder, trainer, or even rescue information could be included also. A list of all of the tasks your dog performs for you, and a list of all of the commands and behaviors that your dog has mastered could be included too. Other ideas include a current series of photos that show your dog both dressed and from the front and side, in case you ever need them. There are lots of ideas, these are just a few. 2019 Service Dog Goals: Do a Service Dog Skills Check It's a good idea to evaluate your partner's skill set multiple times per year, but a large scale audit is good at least once per year. This is a good time to see if you need to focus your training anywhere specific, or to simply update your list of what your dog knows. Getting video is a good idea too. 2019 Service Dog Goals: Update Your Service Dog's Task and Behavior List Now is a good time to update their Task/Behavior list. Cell phones make it so easy to get good quality video these days too. It's a really great way to log that your dog can demonstrate a skill when needed, just mak sure that there is sufficient lighting and the behavior is visible with minimal cues and distractions. Storing these files on a USB Drive or even a SD Card makes life a lot
Service Dogs and Assistance Dogs aren’t the only dogs in the world who do amazing, life-changing work, but they are one of the few types of working dogs clearly defined and protected by United States federal law. Too many people don’t understand the differences between many types of working dogs, though, and it’s time to clear up some of the confusion.