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Why Natural Behaviors Aren’t Trained Service Dog Tasks

When it comes to Service Dog tasks, there is a lot of confusion over what constitutes a real, specifically trained task and which are only perceived tasks, fueled by emotion and wishful thinking. From Service Dog handlers to trainers to medical doctors to veterinarians alike, there is historically a lot of confusion surrounding this topic.

Logically, you would assume real and not real “trained” Service Dog tasks would be easy to differentiate — but the truth is, they’re not. Both members of the medical community (doctors, therapists, psychologists/psychiatrists etc.) as well as dog trainers/handlers with little Service Dog experience or knowledge have been known to be led by emotion into thinking a particular natural behavior is a task. MD’s and PhD’s within the medical field with no dog training experience have also been known to “certify a Service Dog” that is supposedly “trained” to perform work or tasks that directly mitigate a legitimate disability. Unfortunately, many of the “trained tasks” these dogs allegedly perform for their disabled handler, while possibly beneficial, aren’t actually trainable, and therefore don’t legally count as task work or contribute towards Service Dog status. Some of the most frequently encountered “tasks,” especially many of those popular within the Psychiatric Service Dog owner-trainer community, are not considered true Service Dog tasks by animal behaviorists, professional working dog trainers, professional Service Dog organizations and well-known Service Dog training professionals across the world.

Natural Behaviors Aren’t Service Dog Tasks

Susan Lily Grace RN, CDT, founder of the National Institute for Diabetic Alert Dogs and nationally recognized Service Dog trainer and consultant, provides an excellent inquiry into the realm of trained vs untrained tasks. “Dogs offer all sorts of natural behaviors. Things like companionship, emotional support and any behavior offered by the dog that isn’t directly trained and linked to a cue is considered a natural behavior,” Grace explains.

As much as some people wish it was possible, a dog cannot train itself to be a Service Dog.

As an example, it’s natural for most animals to offer a soothing presence during a panic attack — some may even start a game of fetch or tug as a distraction. Many dogs will run to the door and bark if someone rings the doorbell or knocks, but that should not be confused with a legitimately trained hearing alert task. Many dogs may even jump in the lap of the handler if they hear a loud noise or something startled them enough to seek comfort from the handler. Some individuals confuse these natural behaviors with legitimately trained behaviors. As much as we wish it was possible, a dog cannot legitimately train itself to be a Service Dog.

To be perfectly clear, there are countless reports of dogs doing some amazing things on their own — even providing alerts that have saved lives. But unless you can rely on your dog to do that, it’s not considered a trained task.

Being disabled isn’t enough, many disabled people have pets. It’s the level of training and specific tasks or work a dog is trained to perform for the handler that directly mitigate their disability that makes a dog a Service Dog.

Although these natural behaviors may coincidentally be beneficial to the handler if and when they happen, they are not considered true tasks unless they are trained and proofed. Even some “alert” based tasks — like alerting to impending mood swings or anxiety attacks or triggers — should not be considered tasks IF they are not consistent and IF they are not directly linked to a verified cue and trained from a verified dog training method. True Service Dog tasks should easily be verified on a specific cue. In other words, if something can’t be demonstrated with reliability or on demand, the things some people may think of as “alerts” are really just random behaviors being interpreted as tasks. If any dog performs a behavior or “task” in question naturally, without any legitimate, verified, recognizable training that is proofed, then it’s not a trained task, period. Even if it’s helpful or beneficial or if there’s value to the disabled handler. If the behavior in question isn’t the result of specific training originating from the desire to produce a reliable, able-to-be-documented, consistently performed set of actions linked to a verbal, signaled or environmental or situational prompt, then it’s not valid Service Dog task work.

In other words, if something can’t be demonstrated with reliability or on demand, the things some people may think of as “alerts” or “tasks” are really just random behaviors being interpreted as tasks.

What is a Service Dog Task and what disqualifies a dog as a Service Dog?
Fact: The Department of Justice defines Service Animals under the ADA as “…dogs that are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities. Examples of such work or tasks include guiding people who are blind, alerting people who are deaf, pulling a wheelchair, alerting and protecting a person who is having a seizure, reminding a person with mental illness to take prescribed medications, calming a person with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) during an anxiety attack, or performing other duties. Service animals are working animals, not pets. The work or task a dog has been trained to provide must be directly related to the person’s disability. Dogs whose sole function is to provide comfort or emotional support do not qualify as service animals under the ADA.”

“Dogs that are not trained to perform tasks that mitigate the effects of a disability, including dogs that are used purely for emotional support, are not service animals.” — FACT SHEET Highlights of the Final Rule to Amend the Department of Justice’s Regulation Implementing Title II of the ADA

To be considered a task, a dog must execute a command (or behavior) promptly and on cue. Tasks are things that a dog is trained to do reliably — exactly like sitting or going into a down stay on command. Furthermore, the training must be verified by a qualitative and quantitative method (also known as proofing). Finally, and most importantly, the trained behavior in question must directly mitigate one or more aspects of the handler’s specific disability. The behavior of the dog must happen as a response to a specific command or be automatically cued by an external — but specific — factor such as scent (such as a verified sample of excretions from body during a high or low blood glucose level also known as hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia), emotion (such as a verified emotion of fear during a night terror), sound, motion, etc.

Service Dog tasks should be reliable, quantifiable and able to be performed via a specific, verifiable trained cue.

If any of these things are missing, it cannot be a verifiable trained task; therefore the dog is not actually “trained” to perform task work as is required by federal law for Service Dog status.

The Impact of Service Dog Tasks Affects Many

With the differences between trained task work and naturally occurring behaviors established, what does all of this mean and who does it affect?

First and Foremost, it Affects The Reputation of Service Dog Handlers
Fact: To be a Service Dog in the United States, a dog must possess trained, specific task work that directly mitigates their handler’s disability. Fact: Many so-called Service Dogs do not possess true trained task work because it’s un-trainable, unreliable or just coincidental natural canine behavior. Examine your Service Dog’s task list and fill in holes in your training, cue reliability and on-demand behavior performance. If you can’t concretely define precise verified cause and effect behavior chains for every piece of your task list then you have more work to do. Think of it as a verified cause and effect relationship: when this is cued, my Service Dog does THIS. Remember, it must be consistent and reliable in almost every situation. If it isn’t, but it is in fact on a verified cue that dogs have scientifically been proven to understand, keep working until it is.

Secondly, it Affects the Reputation of Dog Trainers
Fact: Anyone can call themselves a dog trainer or Service Dog trainer, but that doesn’t mean they are a good trainer. Many trainers have simply grown up around dogs, trained their family pets or read books until they have an near-encyclopedic knowledge of dogs — but don’t possess the concrete knowledge, skill, patience or teaching ability necessary to train dogs. Some trainers or organizations will “certify” or “graduate” dogs without knowledge about what it takes to be a true Service Dog.

When searching for a Service Dog trainer or training organization, do your research. It truly does not matter how big or how small the organization or trainer is. You should not make the mistake of basing your judgment on the marketing and advertising campaigns an organization or trainer may have. You should base your judgment on the actual product they produce, dogs that you see with your own eyes, teams performing at the level of competency you would expect from a professionally trained Service Dog and handler. It’s up to you to comparison shop; don’t just look at one trainer or organization. And more importantly, meet with the dogs they’ve trained. When you peel back the flashing lights of their marketing campaigns, the acronyms under their name and the smoke and mirrors they may use to try and impress you, all you are left with is the actual product they produce. That is all that truly should matter to you because at the end of the day, the dog you receive from them is what you will be dealing with for the next 7+ years.

Next, it Affects the Medical and Treatment Team Community
Fact: Many Service Dog handlers, especially owner-trainers, begin their Service Dog journey with their doctor, therapist or other treatment team member. Fact: Most medical professionals are not dog trainers. Fact: Being disabled isn’t enough to warrant a service dog if in fact there is no way to legitimately train the dog to directly mitigate the specific disability as required by law. Many disabled people have pets. It’s the specific tasks or work your dog performs that mitigates that disability which make a dog a Service Dog. Medical doctors, psychiatrists and licensed psychologists may be able to validate a disability but they can’t validate a dog’s training with those credentials alone. Medical doctors, psychiatrists and licensed psychologists often write letters of recommendation based on the heartfelt words from their patient, which unfortunately, still does not verify the dog is actually trained or the training in question can be verified on a qualitative and quantitative basis. Well-meaning medical professionals who provide a letter of recommendation for a Service Dog that isn’t actually trained to perform reliable disability-mitigating tasks (and therefore isn’t a really a Service Dog) can do the Service Dog community more harm than good. Just because you “feel your dog helps you” or a doctor provides a letter saying your dog is a Service Dog doesn’t necessary mean it is so.

Professional Service Dog trainers understand how dogs learn and how legitimate trained tasks to mitigate a disability are trained into a dog. They understand the process required to transform a behavior from “unlearned” to “able to be performed on-cue” and in any environment — even under intense distraction. Professional trainers are thoroughly familiar with producing the desired trained behavior a dog should achieve, consistently and reliably.

When people who claim their dog as a Service Dog ask me for advice, I will ask them about their tasks. Sometimes I hear about some pretty amazing things their dogs do for them. As a professional trainer, I ask, “how did you train your dog to do that?” Often, people respond with a deer-in-the-headlights look or say, “I really don’t know, he just does it” or “she learned how to do it on her own!”

The bottom line is: If you claim to have a trained dog but you truly do not know how the dog was trained, and you cannot communicate a verified dog training method that is proven — combined with a verified cue the dog was trained from — then it is safe to say that your “Service Dog” is not “trained to directly mitigate a disability” as required by law. Therefore, since your dog probably provides legitimate emotional support, but not a realistic trained task or tasks, you do not have a Service Dog. Rather, you have an Emotional Support Animal (ESA). which is something for which a medical doctor, psychiatrist or licensed psychologist can actually provide legitimate documentation. However, an Emotional Support Animal is not a Service Dog and is not allowed in public the same way a Service Dog is. An Emotional Support Animal is only given special provisions for people who require them while flying commercial airlines and/or require them at their home or residence.

Finally, it Affects the Service Dog Community as Whole
How untrained or under-trained dogs affect the Service Dog community is far more complex than most people think. For example, dogs which aren’t able to perform reliable, trained, tasks or work are sometimes also unable to demonstrate other behaviors Service Dogs should have, especially for working in public — even if that individual is legitimately disabled and has a letter from their physician or under-qualified dog trainer. When

If a dog isn’t able to behave well in public, it affects the perception of Service Dogs everywhere.

In conclusion, federal law is very clear on the fact that in order for an animal to be considered a Service Dog it must be trained to perform tasks which directly mitigate the handler’s disability. It is important to have a list of specific and trainable tasks you would like your dog to perform that you are unable to — or have difficulty completing — due to your disability. Remember, while people cannot ask about your disability, require medical documentation, require a special identification card or training documentation for the dog or ask that the dog demonstrate its ability to perform the work or task, they are allowed to ask what work or task has your dog been trained to perform — so you should be prepared to answer.

Currently, only a federal judge can legally make the final call on whether or not a dog is in fact a Service Dog — as well as verify if a disability is legitimately diagnosed and ask someone to prove how their dog has been trained to mitigate their disability. So, if you haven’t already, write out your list of trained tasks, work to train your dog on a recognizable cue to perform those tasks, proof it, document it, and never stop practicing. Because that “deer in the headlights look” isn’t going to earn you a positive verdict after a federal judge asks you to explain what tasks your Service Dog is trained to perform and how you trained your dog to directly mitigate your disability. With knowledge and education, together we can create a better world for everyone to live in with our much-needed Service Dogs.


Learn more about voluntary, community-defined training and behavior standards for handlers and their Service Dogs at




  • Pat Nowak Hairston March 9, 2015

    Fantastic article!

    • charles November 4, 2015

      There is a big problem with people that define service dogs the LAW says TASK or Work now from that every Trainer puts there own meaning of what a service dog does. There is so many handicap, Disabled and other medical issue’s with people. All this article is doing if you agree with it is leading to court. You will break the LAW. One example natural dog behaviors is not a service dog well hate to tell you when my dog barks at the door that tells me someone is at the door right. I have PTSD I have to know what is going on at all times I use camera, MY service dog bark at the door. Is PTSD a disability you think about that? I also have narcolepsy my dog has to be active with me. So before anyone says what a service dog is you might want to know every persons medical condition and what TASK, Work they require. Like I always say what you think something is does not make it in stone because your a Trainer, Organization or just trying to get people to come to your training classes so you can make money or make a name for yourself. By the way PTSD is a emotional Disability try looking that up as well. I wish that people would stop coming up with there own definition of a service or emotional dog until the LAW can specifically say what a service dog truly is. For the rest of the Dog handlers if you would just stop worrying about what other people think or just keep your opinion to yourself because by saying something to someone and you have no idea of them may get you more stress, trouble I know it’s hard. By having a vest on and looking professional good slogan we people with disability’s the last thing I and I said I being professional is the last thing I am thinking about come up with a good reason some people don’t want the whole world to know there disabled or even want there business out there and that is there right to chose that and what your saying your trying to take that right away. Once again Dig deep be for you leap.

      • D April 4, 2016

        I agree. My dog alerts to my son’s nocturnal asthma attacks usually before they happen. My son is a deep sleeper is prone to sleep walking and sleeps through his asthma attacks. I take meds for multiple chronic illnesses that knock me out so I have no clue what is going on at night. The dog repeatedly has engaged in this task over and over again. Therefore she is mitigating a disability for my son and me both. SO yes you are correct; one must look at the disability and the task required of the animal first before making a statement.

      • Terry McCormack April 11, 2016

        This is the Law. The only ones that seem to be twisting things are the ones that cannot handle the truth with this subject and/or do not know what is involved to legitimately “train” a dog in general, never mind a Service Dog.

        When it comes to access, everyone embraces that part of Service Dog law. But, when it comes to the law defining what a service dog is and what is actually required… A good number of you get your underwear in a knot. I suppose if it does not benefit YOU, and no longer enables YOU, it is only natural to come up with every excuse in the book to justify your actions.

        Never the less, like it or not, this IS the law.

        • Roymond April 12, 2016

          I bumped into the trainer who helped me with my service dog and told her about this article. She got to this point:

          “Unfortunately, many of the “trained tasks” these dogs allegedly perform for their disabled handler, while possibly beneficial, aren’t actually trainable, and therefore don’t legally count as task work or contribute towards Service Dog status.”

          and cracked up. “Someone doesn’t know dogs”, she commented, and explained: sitting and lying down are natural dog behavior, as are fetching and staying, turning right or turning left. But they are also trained tasks, responses to commands. So the moment a natural behavior gets rewarded, it becomes a trained behavior — and that has to apply to the cat who slaps her owner’s ear when the owner’s blood sugar is low, the dog who brings a blanket when its owner is shivering, and so on. Thus the core premise of the article, she said, is based on a false understanding of not just dogs, but animals in general.

          So, people, if you have rewarded your dog’s natural response, whether warning of an oncoming anxiety attack or anything else, and have done so multiple times, then that natural behavior is now a trained behavior. That you didn’t teach it the behavior is irrelevant; if it is in response to a given stimulus and has been reinforced, it’s a trained behavior.

          • John Parsons April 13, 2016

            The law does not define “trained behavior.” I think it needs to be a level when you can expect the dog to respond to the symptom at least 90% of the time. Otherwise, you are still in training.
            Your trainer isn’t really disagreeing with the core premise of the article, that the behavior has to be trained in order to qualify under the ADA. The dog becomes a service animal when it recognizes the symptom at least 90% of the time (my standard) and then responds in accordance to its training at least 90% of the time (again, my standard) the cue occurs.
            Yes, dogs sit down naturally but it doesn’t become a trained behavior until the dog has been taught a cue AND then performs the desired behavior.
            I’ll repeat that the cue does not have yo be a command. It can be a physiological change that can be replicated for training purposes. I don’t have to experience a dissociative episode to train my dog, I can fake it closely enough for him to recognize the symptoms and then respond accordingly.

          • Roymond April 15, 2016

            There are dogs who won’t respond to someone faking an episode. in my case, my dog can tell if I have an anxiety attack coming well before I can or even my doctor can. Without knowing what it is he’s responding to, we can’t give the cue; the cue is something he knows and we don’t.

            But it is still trained behavior if he only ever responds to the real thing, so long as that response gets reinforced and/or shaped. I don’t know how he can tell, but I do know that I can give a reward when he does it — and that’s training.

          • John Parsons April 20, 2016

            You bring up some good points. Your dog is recognizing your symptoms and then responding in accordance with its training. You have either learned to recognize his alerts or have shaped them to be an alert you desire. The latter would qualify as training. His efficacy has been proven through experience. Your dog is one of the extremely rare natural alerters and I would refuse to punish you for that. I, personally, consider your dog a service dog.
            You also mentioned that you are unable to fake your symptoms well enough to get your dog to alert. I am vehemently opposed to dog and pony shows, even in court, for that very reason. The dog not alerting may be due to the handler being unable to fake symptoms well enough for a variety of reasons, including plain, old nervousness.

          • Roymond April 22, 2016

            Actually the former is training as well; it’s reinforcement that says, “This behavior I want”.

      • John Parsons April 11, 2016

        PTSD is a real disability. You use the example of barking when someone approaches your door. For you, that is a legitimate task. Fo me, a disabled veteran, it would be a good pet because it would not mitigate any of my disabilities. There is a formal, legal definition of a service dog in the ADA. The article is making a good point that the service dog must be individually trained to mitigate a disability. It takes both training AND a person with a diagnosed disability to qualify a dog as a service animal. I wish you the best.

  • Cathy March 9, 2015

    What a phenomenal article. One thing that the article doesn’t say (although the author alludes to it and addresses it obliquely) is that SD’s first and foremost need to be obedience trained and have exceptional behavior if they are going to be brought out in public. If a dog is trained to do tasks, that’s great for the person they are assisting; but if a dog is not trained not to jump on people or invade their space, that’s a huge issue for me. I have NO patience for a dog who jumps on me or otherwise violates me in a public place.

    • Anything Pawsable Staff March 9, 2015

      You’re very correct! For all dogs including pets, basic obedience training is akin to kindergarten.

    • Terry McCormack March 9, 2015

      I cannot stand that either Cathy, I thought I did cover that though… There are links provided that go into that with more detail. Words highlighted and underlined within the article are actually links to refer and direct you to more information.

      Thank you for the compliment on the article 🙂

      • Cathy March 9, 2015

        Terry, the article was truly wonderful and I likely just didn’t appreciate the emphasis you placed on this issue and that may be more because it is such a hot button with me. It’s my experience that this is most often a problem with outright “fakers” who lie to be able to take their pet into a “No Pets” place but more and more I am seeing issues with misguided individuals who believe that since the law allows you to train your dog yourself, they are not allowed to ask but two very specific questions, and no ID’s or certificates or anything are required, they can decide they are disabled, decide they need a dog, decide they know what it means to train a dog. It’s a huge issue when someone else’s dog misbehaves and either your dog or your property is injured/damaged. I’ve had a SD since 1998 (I’m on SD #2) and I’ve experience both. It’s very distressing.

        Your article does what you set out to do in an exceptional way — it addresses what an SD is incredibly well. One can only hope that the people who need to read it do. The problem, of course, is that even if they do, they don’t see themselves. And getting anyone to act on these dogs is not as easy as it would seem. When a retailer has a loudmouthed person shouting ADA violations and insisting she has “rights” and you are dealing with an inexperienced assistant manager who is intimidated, well, you’ve probably been there as well.

        Thanks again for an informative, excellent piece.

    • songs4silence March 11, 2015

      Cathy – any dog, service or not, should be safe to be brought in public. Do not make this a service dog only requirement. Some dogs do not have the behavior to be in public, period.

  • songs4silence March 9, 2015

    This article is pretty colored and I feel makes things even harder and more frustrating. One already gets to play 20 questions on nearly daily basis having a SD, its like you can’t get out if your car without someone grilling you about the legitimacy of your condition, your dog, whether the sky is blue…

    As a SD handler, I rely on my dogs natural senses to medically alert because they are a great tool, and I do not have those extremely attuned senses. That being said, my dog was taught a few other “legally approved”(or whatever) tasks as approved my IAAPs guidelines. Teaching an alert dog to only alert in the presence of an arbitrary cue is potentially dangerous. One is then teaching the dog to ignore instinct you are potentially relying on to be ignored. What if you fail to recognize your own symptoms and display the cue, right as you’re going into a seizure and the dog fails to alert? That, is potentially deadly.

    • Robert March 11, 2015

      I agree 100%. with you songs4silence. There is Zero mention of even Basic obedience, let alone the C.G.C,, the IAAP guidelines or anything else. Example; waking from a nightmare is a legitimate PSD TASK & the dog can be trained to wake you. I totally agree with your last 3 sentences, song. I am a SD Trainer, I am a SD Handler & I have my own personal dog & have trained a variety of dogs.

      • songs4silence March 11, 2015

        Robert – I owner trained with the help of a trainer – I have no tolerance for this nonsense. And my trainer, was an aggression trainer, I figured I would go to the extreme, since she is nowhere near there and they are super great at handling most issues and manipulative dogs lol. My dog is super stubborn, that does not make her not a service dog – it means that handing out treats and positive only training, didn’t work. I had to use several humane methods, but it made us a stronger team, and therefore, my default answer to any of that questions stuff is ‘I’ve got it handled, thank you.”

      • John Parsons April 11, 2016

        Waking a disabled person who suffers nightmares is legitimate work. But, it only qualifies under the ADA when and where the person will be sleeping. That particular service dog should not be taken into places at times when the handler will remain awake.

    • Diana Price Seal April 13, 2015

      You mentioned many of my thoughts about training verses instinct…I am new to this and don’t know all the abbreviations and what they mean but do know dogs….I do believe you may have a pet/friend and a service dog….aka working companion. If you are spending most of your time with this animal why wouldn’t you want it to be your companion …pet…friend and maybe life saver.
      I am training a very small breed compared to the standard Lab or Shepard but he serves me well…even when I am asleep and stop breathing he licks me to wake. I couldn’t give a command at that moment obviously…I have both medical issues, and PTSD, I can not have a large breed in places where I need service so I chose to use my best friend, as my service companion instead.
      He is getting trained but my choice came from his loyalty and caring nature, not to mention my love of this little canine.
      Maybe this is wishful thinking but too many times he has helped without a word from me, he knew I needed his help.
      I have six dogs and not all of them react to me as my chosen service dog…so I know with additional training he will serve me very well.

      • John Parsons April 11, 2016

        The cue the author mentions does not have to be a command. It can be an unconscious behavior such as apnea or high blood sugar, etc.

  • Dixon March 9, 2015

    Clearly everyone here has a vested interest to continue to bring more and more knowledge and uniformity to this all too important subject. I also found the article to be excellent and I am thankful to Terry for sharing both experience that has been earned and knowledge. In my opinion there will need to be a lot more work to bring the whole SD issue to maturity. We are in an unprecedented period where people obsession with dogs is near a frenzy. While that is good, I too am very tired of the wink and nod of those asking if I faked mine too. Yet, together we all push on for ourselves, the legit folks like Terry and for those who will benefit in the future.

    • songs4silence March 11, 2015

      Dixon, if they have such a vested interest? Why were those points overlooked. Those are potentially deadly mistakes.

      • emissary007 March 11, 2015

        No one is perfect. I believe if we all work together to create the best content and tools for those in need then we will achieve the desired results.Any large, dynamic effort, is a work in progress.

    • Linda March 13, 2015

      Dixon, if you get a nod and a wink, and you have time, can you try to get more info from the person, and then turn them in? Not really your job at all, but it might help thin out those kinds of people.

  • Martina March 11, 2015

    I am a SD handler, and have a medical alert dog. My dog naturally alerts to high blood sugars, and I trained for low blood sugars (I am a Type 1 Diabetic). She never misses an alert. I do rely on her to do that. She does it on her own, consistently, and it is most definitely one of her tasks. My problem with this is, if this is only considered a task if it has a cue, thats throwing instinct out the window. I rely on her to tell me BEFORE something happens, not when I feel it and ‘cue’ her to alert to me. If I had to cue every alert, she wouldn’t be an alert dog. End of story. It would make her job pointless, and put me in danger. How that fact degrades her ‘legitimacy’ is idiotic. Take a seizure alert dog for example. If you had to cue the dog to alert to a seizure, it would be alerting the handler to the seizure AFTER they already knew. Which means there is no actual job for the dog. A seizure alert dogs job is to alert the handler to an oncoming seizure so they can get somewhere safe or sit/lay down. If they had to be cued, it would more often than not be too late for the handler to do anything about it. For tasks like opening doors and closing cabinets, I understand the cue thing. But for alerts? No. The dog is supposed to know before you do. Thats what makes an alert dog legitimate.

    • songs4silence March 11, 2015


    • Buster March 13, 2015

      My dog started bringing me my test kit on low sugars at 12 weeks but it wasn’t considered a trained task. I had to teach her a “true alert” to qualify as a trained task. she now sits and taps my leg on a high or low. That is considered 2 trained tasks because of doing it either way. I’ve had 2 standard poodles now and both spontaneously alerted but that doesn’t qualify as a trained task so I worked with a SD trainer to get them switched to a true task. technically, if your dog licks you or does something on their own, it isn’t a trained task and you don’t have a trained SD per the ADA. Work with a trainer to switch their action to a trained task.

    • Roymond November 14, 2015


      I about choked when I read this, and my doc agrees:

      “True Service Dog tasks should easily be verified on a specific cue. In other words, if something can’t be demonstrated with reliability or on demand, the things some people may think of as “alerts” are really just random behaviors being interpreted as tasks. If any dog performs a behavior or “task” in question naturally, without any legitimate, verified, recognizable training that is proofed, then it’s not a trained task, period.”

      My dog can tell minutes before I can that I’m nearing an anxiety attack. He can tell before my doctor can. So how in any possible world could he react to an incipient anxiety attack “on demand”? It was my doctor who suspected Bammer was doing this, and actually guided me in one appointment toward an anxiety attack, and verified it.

      In fact the most valuable service animals I’ve ever met have talents that cannot be trained, period, because they’re abilities that no medical device can replicate. One gal had a service cat — which the DoJ idiotically says isn’t allowed any longer — who warned her of low blood sugar. Her doctor verified that it was warning her even before any medical equipment could notice it. And the dogs I’ve met who warn of seizures and backflashes and such did that naturally — and could not be trained to do it because there is no way for a human to tell when one is going to happen and cue the animal.

      Now, such behaviors can be reinforced; Bammer always gets a reward after helping. Other behaviors can be trained to supplement the natural talent, too, e.g. standing guard if I actually have an attack. But the DoJ needs to recognize reality and admit what is unofficially recognized, that some of the most useful service dogs do their jobs because of natural talent, not because of training.

  • Anything Pawsable Staff March 12, 2015

    Actually, our purpose is to provide training and behavior standards for Service Dogs and their owners. Of course, any time you try to create standards, it is bound to upset some individuals.

  • Jill March 12, 2015

    I am on my third owner – trained (with professional finishing and PAT passed,he did better than the guiding eye dogs the tester normally trains/tests) seizure alert, PSD and mobility trained dog. But even though my service dog knows and performs many tasks that mitigate my multiple disabilities he’s not a service dog according to your article! You say “every task must be trained, and repeatable on cue.” My dog alerts me to my multiple seizures a day 3-5 minutes before my seizure hits, and then makes me sit or lie down and lays on me to prevent me from injuring myself. I, since I can’t predict my seizures onset myself, can’t cue him to do this, he alerts on his own, and has done so since 16 weeks old. All i did was give him a treat and heaps of praise when i came out of my seizure starting at 8 weeks old. My family would give him a treat right as my seizure started. On his own he would constantly check my breath from a young age. He has reliably alerted with 95% accuracy his first year, and has been 100% since age 1 year old. So, as you say, he’s not a service dog! Also, when I spiral into a ptsd flashback, I can’t cue him,and he on his own realizes I’m not in the present and begins to nudge me, lick me and paw me to bring my focus on him. Again, he does this on his own. He also gets my medication and reminds me to take it 3 times a day. This was originally on cue, but he now knows the schedule and does not require a cue. He gets the phone on cue, gets water out of fridge on cue, braces to help me stand or to prevent a fall on cue, helps me walk by counter balancing against his harness on cue, and of course knows all advanced obedience on cue as well. He’s also been super socialized since 8 weeks and is a happy, safe and calm service dog in public. He’s got his CGC, TT, Therapy Dog (pet partners/Delta) and he’s a champion dock dog. So, is my 7 year old Service dog a service dog or not???

    • songs4silence March 12, 2015

      Huh how ironic your comment is posted – all my comments have been completely removed by the team since they make their article look bad.

      Jill – I agree with you 100%. The key to this skewed article is this – your dog is task traind to do other things to mitigate your disabilities – apparently that is their criteria here. So according to them, you are golden.

      For the others – apparently we are all just a bunch of fakers if I could predict a seizure would I need a service dog trained for medical alert – either a dog can alert or it cant with possibly the exception of blood sugar.

      This article is a joke

    • Anything Pawsable Staff March 12, 2015

      Hi Jill, thank you for your comment! Behaviors which are untrained do not legally count as task work. However you have trained your dog to fetch medicine, summon help and provide balance support — all of which are qualifying tasks. The key is to not rely on natural behaviors alone — which according to your description, you have already done.

      • Sharon Willoughby June 19, 2015

        Maybe not as “tasks” but definitely count as work! What is trained is the behavior surrounding the alert. Is the dog paying attention at appropriate times (eg. when the handler is alone), is the dog calmly waiting – or perhaps providing some kind of tactile stimulation during or after the episode? This is all trained work in a dog that innately alerts.

  • Terry McCormack March 12, 2015

    songs4silence & Robert.

    I would like to clear up some things said here that raised an eyebrow by your comments.

    1. There is NO verified cue to “Train” a dog to alert to the future onset of a seizure. Trainers and researchers have been trying to discover what it is that some rare dogs do in fact consistently pick up on and react to consistently. We can identify these rare dogs on a qualitative and quantitative basis, however we cannot “Train” a dog to do this because the is NO verified cue that the dog is picking up on to detect the onset of future seizures. Therefore it cannot be “Trained”. Shaping an alert on these rare dogs that have been identified to have the ability to predict the onset of a seizure is dangerous. Because there is no cue on what it is that the dog is picking up on — and nor do we even know what the dog is naturally being cued from, shaping (changing the alert behavior to something more acceptable if they are not doing it already) the alert to pawing or nudging can in fact cause you to inadvertently stop the dog from alerting all together. However, even IF you DO succeed in shaping the alert, you really did not TRAIN the dog to alert to the future onset of a seizure. That being said, seizure RESPONSE is a trained task. The cue is the actual seizure. You CAN train the dog to do this if the dog does in fact alert to an oncoming seizure or not. that IS a trained task. such as calling 911, getting help, laying on you till the seizure is over etc.. All the good seizure mitigating dogs that are produced weather they can alert to to a seizure before it happens or not are ALSO “trained” to respond to the seizure happening.

    2. I did not focus much on the obedience portion of the training in this as the Law is very vague in this area. This article was about “Trained Tasks” for the most part and what the law says in that regard. What I or anyone else may consider acceptable obedience is irrelevant as far as the law is concerned. The only thing that truly IS relevant is how the DOJ (Department of Justice) interprets ADA Law as far as obedience is concerned. They have only done so with the following “Service Animals Must Be Under Control Under the ADA, service animals must be harnessed, leashed, or tethered, unless these devices interfere with the service animal’s work or the individual’s disability prevents using these devices. In that case, the individual must maintain control of the animal through voice, signal, or other effective controls.” and “A person with a disability cannot be asked to remove his service animal from the premises unless: (1) the dog is out of control and the handler does not take effective action to control it or (2) the dog is not housebroken. When there is a legitimate reason to ask that a service animal be removed, staff must offer the person with the disability the opportunity to obtain goods or services without the animal’s presence.”

    Although I agree 100% their needs to be a standard backed by the Law that includes a verified level of obedience that is suitable to handle all high distraction, high stress environments the dog will face and encounter while in public, and have the ability to ignore everything and anyone else except the dogs job, handler, and the handlers commands in public, there is not a legally backed obedience standard at this time other than what I just mentioned unfortunately.

    songs4silence you stated “That being said, my dog was taught a few other “legally approved”(or whatever) tasks as approved my IAAPs (sic) guidelines.” and Robert you stated “There is Zero mention of even Basic obedience, let alone the C.G.C,, the IAAP guidelines or anything else.” and “I am a SD Trainer, I am a SD Handler & I have my own personal dog & have trained a variety of dogs.”

    I am shocked that someone who holds the standards of an organization in such high regard does not even know the correct acronym for the organization. It is NOT “IAAP” it is the “IAADP” (International Association of Assistance Dog Partners). I am even more shock that someone who calls themselves a “Service Dog Trainer” does not know that either. Furthermore, as someone that has “Trained a variety of dogs” mentions and works with the AKC CGC department would know that Mary Burch was VERY clear that the CGC is JUST a behavior test and has nothing to do with testing a dog to be a service dog. She sent this out to me a all the AKC CGC evaluators a long time ago. She also posted this

    The rest of what you have said songs4silence is even more gibberish to me and anyone else that truly comprehended the article and what this page is all about. While your persistent personal vendettas expressed within your comments were almost comical in here. I am no longer going to entertain the rants of some anonymous joker who is clearly misguided and/or misinformed.

    3. I would like to clarify to everyone what a “cue” means in regards to this article. A cue is something that prompts a dog to do something. This is a verbal, signaled or environmental or situational prompt. A cue can be invisible such as a specific odor that a dog smells. As long as we know what the cue is that the dog can be trained from and the dog understands the cue, the dog can be trained. If we cannot verify a cue (for instance, someone who claims to scent train a dog for seizure alert) to be connected to the task we want to train the dog to do, then we in fact cannot connect it to any training method such as scent detection. If we don’t have a verified cue we cannot train the dog to do it, period. If anyone says any different in the dog training world. I can say with 100% confidence they are lying. You can ONLY train a dog from a cue that both you AND the dog understands. Period.

    Emotion such as anger and fear is a verifiable cue. Body language is a verified cue. Odor excreted from the body during a hypoglycemia/hyperglycemia episode is a verified cue. etc..

    I hope this clears up any misunderstanding of the word cue and how it was used in this article. I also hope this explains why I did not get into more detail about the obedience of Service Dogs.

    Thank you.

    • Buster March 13, 2015

      I have trained my dog with the help of a SD trainer to the point that she is comfortable and predictable in public and alert at 95% accuracy. When I asked about taking the CGC both trainers told me it wasn’t needed, if anything I should look for a specialized public access test for my disability. The closest certified trainer doing that is 130 miles away and she doesn’t personalize it to the disability, she does every dog the same way so she doesn’t truly know her job. When she told me we would be going to a mall, through crowds, use a cart ,etc I had no issues with any of that. Then we must use an escalator! I never use them because of another disability I have and that is extremely dangerous as the dog could seriously injure their paws.
      With “certified testers” not doing a real PAT(just enhanced CGC), the CGC just proves the dog is socialized, I’m done. We have over 1000 hours of training between her sugar alerting and working in public with 0 issues. I pulled off the “in training” patch and we go about our business without a “certification” just fine. She will stop in front of me and tap for a high or low, she will stay with me should I go down, and she assists me getting up or when I’m unsteady using a handle harness.

      • Terry McCormack March 13, 2015

        I am not sure what “certified” service dog trainers are pushing a dog to be tested on an escalator but I definitely would not want ANY dog on an escalator. I also instruct my clients to never bring there dog on an escalator. It’s just not worth the risk.

        • Buster Nutz March 17, 2015

          I agree and so did Sugar Dogs International, they helped me train the sugar aspects. When I sent them the email they told me to avoid that tester at all costs and never use an escalator. It was near Indianapolis.
          They recommended I find a tester who would do a custom PAT for my dog, I just wish there was one nearby who had a clue..

    • Dee-elle March 13, 2015

      What is an ‘oder’? I would assume it was a mistake (meant to be spelled odor) but it’s used more than once. Is this some dog cue I am unaware of?

      • Terry McCormack March 13, 2015

        Yes, it was a spell-check mistake. It is Odor NOT Oder. Thank you for the catch. It is fixed.

    • Roymond November 14, 2015

      By saying “verified cue” you’re eliminating many canine abilities. My doctor never did figure out what was cuing Bammer to incipient anxiety attacks, and the doctors of people I know with dogs that alert them to seizures have no idea what the cue is, either. It’s something real, and maybe with (far) more sensitive instruments and/or observation such things may be eventually figured out, asserting that a cue must be verifiable excludes some of the most useful of service dogs.

      My trainer at least was aware of this. She recognized that animals have abilities we can’t fathom, and may never be able to. Demanding that we mere humans be able to tell what the cue is, she considered speciesist arrogance, and I have to concur.

      But so long as training for what to do once the dog has recognized a cue counts, there’s no issue. Bammer can recognize an anxiety attack coming before I or anyone else has the least clue; if his natural warning doesn’t help turn it aside, he’s trained how to help me (and his natural warnings got reinforced, in the case of licking my leg and pawing my feet; bumping against me had to be squelched because of balance issues). Yet the DoJ needs to change that language to recognize that natural ability reinforced to be dependable counts!

  • Heather March 14, 2015

    You don’t get to pick and choose quotes to fit your opinion. The DOJ has made it clear that WORK and/or TASKs make a service dog, not just tasks. The correct quote from the highlights is The rule defines “service animal” as a dog that has been individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability. The rule states that other animals, whether wild or domestic, do not qualify as service animals. Dogs that are not trained to perform tasks that mitigate the effects of a disability, including dogs that are used purely for emotional support, are not service animals. The final rule also clarifies that individuals with mental disabilities who use service animals that are trained to perform a specific task are protected by the ADA.

    The Department’s final rule defines “service animal” as “any dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability. Other species of animals, whether wild or domestic, trained or untrained, are not service animals for the purposes of this definition. The work or tasks performed by a service animal must be directly related to the individual’s disability. Examples of work or tasks include, but are not limited to, assisting individuals who are blind or have low vision with navigation and other tasks, alerting individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing to the presence of people or sounds, providing non-violent protection or rescue work, pulling a wheelchair, assisting an individual during a seizure, alerting individuals to the presence of allergens, retrieving items such as medicine or the telephone, providing physical support and assistance with balance and stability to individuals with mobility disabilities, and helping persons with psychiatric and neurological disabilities by preventing or interrupting impulsive or destructive behaviors. The crime deterrent effects of an animal’s presence and the provision of emotional support, well-being, comfort, or companionship do not constitute work or tasks for the purposes of this definition.”

    • Anything Pawsable Staff March 14, 2015

      Thank you — the point being made here is that work and tasks must be trained. The definition you’re quoting here is also in the seventh paragraph of the article.

    • Terry McCormack March 14, 2015

      “You don’t get to pick and choose quotes to fit your opinion.”

      I did no such thing. Apparently you did not read what you even wrote clearly enough or you do not understand what “trained” means. Perhaps you missed that word.

      • Sharon Willoughby June 18, 2015

        Yes you certainly did. My dog is highly *trained* and *works* for me for hours at a time in public by being calm, obedient (all basic canine good citizen stuff and “under”, “through”, etc) , being social (or not, based on my preference), and yet he rarely does specific “tasks”. This work makes it possible for me to have a social life, function in activities of daily living such as going to church and shopping, and maintain my demeanor in stressful situations. Is my dog not meeting the criteria of doing “trained work OR tasks to ameliorate” my disability? I challenge you to explain how the work my dog does is not trained or cannot be proofed.

        BTW, we trained for a couple years before being certified (through a SD program) and maintain our training regularly. My dog is trained to perform certain “tasks”, such as picking things up when my fingers go nerveless and providing deep pressure upon request but these are the least of what he does to aid me to live a relatively normal life. I trained “tasks” primarily to appease people like you in the SD world (not the ADA because they are clearly covering the WORK my SD does). I have, an emotional/mental disability so why should my dog do a bunch of physical tasks? If I had diabetes or a seizure disorder the inate alert behavior would be what was important and would be my dog’s primary work. The training would, as in my case, be in what the dog does surrounding the innate behavior.

        Please quit wasting time on this old and irrelevant argument and address the lack of public access training for Service Dogs even from programs. Or even worse, the serious issue of people pretending their pets are Service DogsDogs. Please drop this ridiculous and artificial distinction between types of work.

        Btw, it is also not helpful to talk about “Emotional Support Animals” when discussing public access rights since those rights are granted by the ADA law and not travel or housing law. That definition only applies to air travel and no pets housing. You are mixing apples and oranges and making a big mess of what could be a productive discussion of real issues. I think youro reasons may discriminatory based on your singing out of persons with mental illness.

        • Roymond November 14, 2015

          This reminds me that my dog has both “work” and “tasks”. His work is what he does almost all the time, behaving in ways that help deter anxiety attacks altogether. But his tasks include untrained, reinforced, and trained ones when I actually do have issues.

          So is he doing “emotional support” with his work? I’ve been told so, but my doctor says that just because something is emotional support doesn’t mean it isn’t more than that, in this case anxiety deterrence. I’ve verified the hard way that I have fewer anxiety issues when he’s there and attentive, so his mere presence and attentiveness is “work” that has a measurable medical benefit — that it is also “emotional support” is thus irrelevant.

          It’s like one ADA lady at the DoJ said to me once: sure, a service dog is a “pet”, but the important matter is that it isn’t JUST a pet; it’s a “companion”, but the important matter is that it isn’t JUST a companion. So Bammer is a pet, and a companion, but most importantly he’s my service dog, able to do things no medical device can and respond with training to achieve what no medical technology can do.

  • turtlemom3 March 15, 2015

    I have severe fibromyalgia and moderate rheumatoid arthritis. I am the very happy handler of Warrior, a yellow Lab, who is an ADI-certified Mobility Service Dog, and my second Service Dog. He was trained at PAALS (Palmetto Animal Assisted Life Services) in South Carolina. I go annually for re-certification. It is rigorous, and exhausting for me, but Warrior thinks it is fun to show off how he helps me at a check-out counter, picking up items I drop – including my cane, my cell-phone, and any pens or pencils I might drop.

    He will activate a K9-phone if I fall or cue him to; he also will seek out and bring my husband to me if I faint or fall. And, to top it all off, he does the laundry!

    All this is on-cue, and we work daily on keeping him “up” on his behaviors. Wish I could post his picture and that of Emmy, his predecessor. I could not function without him!

    • Terry McCormack March 15, 2015

      Although certification from ADI or anyone else is not required by law, I am glad to hear your dog is in fact trained to perform tasks that are on cue so you are certain you can count on reliability of those tasks.

  • sharon June 18, 2015

    This article pretends to be differentiate Service Dogs and Emotional Support Animals but it really doesn’t since those terms come from two different laws with two different purposes so are apples and oranges. It does single out and disparage persons with Psychiatric Disabilities IMO for no clear reason. Below I address Service Dogs (ADA) and public access but not travel or housing law and Emotional Support Animals (and additional category in that law only).

    Note that, according to the ADA quote in the article, a Service Dog is “trained to do work OR (my emphasis) perform tasks”. Yes, this covers tasks like picking up objects, opening doors, and alerting to sounds. It also covers trained work like assisting with balance and guiding. Howver a dog trained to assist a person with a Psychiatric Disability can do both work and tasks as well. Some tasks were mentioned in the article. But what was overlooked is the work a dog can be trained to do to ameliorate symptoms and aid an individual in public settings. A dog can be specifically trained to *attend* (very important) to its handler and perform many different behaviors in public that facilitate the handler in managing social and other situations that may be challenging or threatening. If my dog is trained to walk calmly at my side while I shop, greet or not greet other persons on cue, place himself physically where instructed relative to others, or provide specific tactile stimulation my dog is performing work. This work is all highly trained and applies in *public* settings. Denying me public access based on lack of perceived “tasks” directly violates my ADA rights.

    This ridiculous and artificial comparison of Service Dogs and Emotion Support Animals detracts from the very real issue of poorly trained dogs appearing in public.

    • Roymond November 14, 2015

      From that perspective, I have to ask if my dog is doing “work” in the following situation:

      I’m shopping, and just up the aisle some child starts crying. My dog knows this can be an anxiety trigger for me, so he tugs and asks to go say “Hi”. I tell him to say “hi”, he goes to the child, and momentarily the crying stops. My anxiety level is thus reduced.

      Or, another shopping one: I’ve stopped and frozen because my mind refuses to decide which brand of an item to choose (in college once I stood staring at a shelf for half an hour once until a friend literally picked me up and turned me around). So Bammer tugs and asks to say “Hi”, if anyone is near, or lies down and rolls onto his back on my feet, breaking my fixation.

      I call those work, because both address issues with my disability.

  • Sharon Willoughby June 20, 2015

    All my comments are still “awaiting moderation” after 3 days. Interesting – is it because I disagree with the author…

  • songs4silence June 25, 2015

    This is a highly charged issue.

    I did not even think of the “work” OR “tasks” including some of the commenters before me, which further shoves this article into the highly editorialized edition of reality.

    While the debate between the mere presence of a SD is considered “work” is a mixed bag. For some it truly is work for some its not so much pertaining to their disability. I think that is a gray area we’re just going to have to accept applies wholeheartedly for some, while is not ‘absolutely necessary’ for others. That being said, regardless, most legitimate service dogs are task trained as well – so this whole point is moot. Everyone single one of us has a different circumstance and different needs from our dog. So does this ride ’emotional support’ areas, lets be honest – yes – but that does NOT effect that for SOME PEOPLE ’emotional support’ is part of the work and set of tasks the dog is specifically trained for to mitigate their disability. Honestly I am so tired of this. If you are SO worried about this – teach your dog another task or two and call it a day. You know what you need. Its nobody’s business what your dog does – aside from general obedience and doing our best to not let our dog make a bad impression. That’s it. If it ain’t bothering you directly – leave it alone.

    I would also like to add, YET AGAIN, that this site, is directly sponsord from one of those ‘scammer’ registries (notice the logo, everywhere) that will let you get your nice little badge, certifed document and vest, with zero documentation or even speaking to you. Is that legal? As of now, yes. Its totally legal, just like selling ‘vitamin drinks’ that actually are not really much more than sugar is legal. Educate yourself people and decide acordingly. This is life. Everyone will always have an issue about something. Mind your own stuff and everything becomes MUCH MUCH easier. Once I stopped giving a hoot about what people had to say about me, my disabillity, my dog, my this, my that, my feeling of owing an explanation to everyone who asked anything, and my anxiety level plummeted and things just got so much easier.

    • Ronald Wilson, CPDT, AKC Evaluator June 25, 2015

      Wow. You sound like someone with a little bit of knowledge, a sub-trained dog and lots of half-baked opinions. Give it a rest. You sound undereducated and overly bitter.

      This site is by far one of the best educational resources for service dog trainers and handlers. Yes, it’s run by USSDR (yeah Sherlock, their logo is at the top of the page) and they’re the only organization out there who’s actually doing anything concrete as far as establishing training and behavior standards for Service Dogs and handlers. And they’re doing it the only way possible without the law taking over: by allowing people to voluntarily and publicly hold themselves up to those standards by signing an agreement. If your issue is with how it’s not legally required for people to accept those standards then don’t sign their agreement and accept them. This author is speaking the truth. You just don’t like it.

    • godsangelshavepaws June 25, 2015

      YOU ARE RIGHT. SAY NO TO STANDARDS. I trained my DOG MYSELF. My dog is MY LIFESAVER. MY DOG IS MY LIFELINE. Scammers everywhere in this “GOVERNMENT” by the PEOPLE for the PEOPLE and this is just one more example. THIS EDITORIALIZED ARTICLE is filled with the opinions of a “trainer” who probably went to some FANCY SCHOOL. MY SCHOOL IS LIFE. Experience is the best teacher. The tasks and work my dog does for me are why I’m still alive. EDUCATE YOURSELF.

    • Terry McCormack July 14, 2015

      ” Its nobody’s business what your dog does – aside from general obedience and doing our best to not let our dog make a bad impression.” REALLY?!? Legal Challenge question #2 (That you must answer Legally BTW) states: “What has your dog been trained to do to mitigate your disability.” Well songs4silence, I guess you must of read the laws interpreted by people who are illiterate as according to the Law, it IS something that may be asked and must be answered if challenged by business owners or gate keepers in public no pet areas.

      • songs4silence July 14, 2015

        Terry- I will happily answer people who ask me. My dog is actually trained, over 1500 hours of obedience and specialized SD task trained work… so I don’t have to make up crap – but I also will include one, and some general ones, because i don’t need the whole world knowing I am a psychological mess. My comment was just general. Being a hot mess, psychologically, that is my business.

        • songs4silence July 14, 2015

          Also, I have never had a challenge, because its never a behavioral problem, because the dog is properly trained. Yes you have to answer those questions, but you don’t have to divulge your entire medical history – if I had to that, I’d be standing there for hours.

  • godsangelshavepaws June 25, 2015

    I trained my dog MYSELF. FOR HUNDREDS OF HOURS. My rights come from GOD and JESUS and the USA and NOBODY ELSE. My dog is a BILLION times better than any schmancy “program trained” dog and I don’t need no “COMMUNITY DEFINDED STANDARDS” to tell me or anybody else my dog is my SAVIOR. My dog dos work and tasks to mitigate my fibromilagia and seizures EVERY DAY. I REFUSE TO HOLD MYSELF ACCOUNTABLE TO ANYBODY BUT GOD. You don’t know me. You dont know my disABILITY. DO NOT JUDGE ME. songs4silence and sharon is RIGHT. I agree i dont give a HOOT what anybody thinks. It is NOBODYS BUSINESS WHAT MY DOG DOES FOR ME. If you judge me you are a SINNER in the eyes of THE LORD. Take you’re service dog standards and SHOVE THEM.

  • Terry McCormack July 14, 2015

    This was just put out by the Department of Justice. It clarifies “What does “do work or perform tasks” mean?” in question 2. It seems pretty cut and dry to me. If you still think the Service Dog Fairy can train your dog and it is a legal Service Dog by legal definition. Your sadly mistaken.

    • Frances September 14, 2015

      I had not seen this FAQ list yet, glad to have it!

    • Roymond November 14, 2015

      My doctor and trainer both would find this bit hilarious because it’s out of touch with reality:

      “Or, a person who has epilepsy may have a dog that is trained to detect the onset of a seizure….”

      Neither of them has ever heard of a dog that was trained to detect the onset of a seizure; they either do it naturally or they don’t do it. Every trained I’ve talked with has said the same thing, and DoJ ADA people have admitted it as well. So when will their published stuff match reality?

  • songs4silence July 14, 2015

    I’ve read it. I comply. I don’t know why you are harping on this. I fall way into the acceptable categories.

  • Frances September 14, 2015

    Terrific article!!
    Wow, the assessment questiin and task/skill debate rolls on through the decades and unfortunatly so does the misguided or misinformed public coming up with a new(to me) version of the demand for certification by a hotel deskclerk in Sequim, WA this summer,
    “Sure, we welcome your service dog IF you can provide certification”
    “such as?” my standard reply
    ” oh, such as a prescription from your doctor.”
    I say, ” which doctor, what kind of certification? like say, a prescription as if he’s medical equiptment? and how does that proove to you he’s a Service dog?”
    no answer from the front desk.

  • Cathy Spade September 18, 2015

    I feel the use of service dogs is excessive and abused. Just because someone can legally purchase a car that reaches 120 miles per hour doesn’t mean they should speed and risk the safety of others. Similarly, just because a person has a disability and is entitled to a service dog doesn’t mean they should disregard the health and safety of others. If there are effective ways to mitigate your disability instead of using a service dog then you should employ those. Or, perhaps a service dog still is your best option but there are occasions, or circumstances/places, when you have a choice and don’t have to bring your service dog. On those occasions you might be making it possible for someone else to actually breath.

    I realize the ADA states that the public’s dog allergies and fears don’t matter. But we are all part of the same society and we all need to be considerate of one another. Also the rise of real and fake service dogs is causing problems that I don’t think were anticipated when the ADA was written. An estimated 15-30% of the population now have animal allergies and/or severe asthma and these numbers increase each year. People with cancer undergoing chemo or suffering from illnesses that diminish the functioning of their immune system can become very ill when exposed to dogs. Even though the ADA says that doesn’t matter; the fact is they do matter and they are struggling with the crumby hand they have been dealt too.

    Also, perhaps not as significant, but a large number of the population suffer from Cynophobia (extreme fear of dogs) – it is one of the top 10 most common phobias in the U.S. These are people battling often parallelizing fear in country where dogs are virtually everywhere they turn and now in every store and office. And man’s best friend bites 4.7 million Americans every year, with thousands of people and other pets severely disfigured and limbs lost. About 40 people are killed by dogs each year and about 50,000 pets are killed annually by dogs; and sadly this increases almost every year (two decades ago there were nearly half as many dog bite fatalities as there are today).

    So understand there are many people struggling with dog related illnesses and traumas you probably never hear about. They are not granted special rights, assistance or legal protection – they just try to get by each day the same as like you or I.

    • Roymond November 14, 2015

      We do have to respect that many people have allergies. But there’s an easy way to help with that: when you give your dog a bath, once he/she is reasonably dry rub him/her down with a good conditioner. That serves to keep the dander, which is what people with dog allergies react to, down for several days.

      I ALWAYS do this before going to the bank or doctor’s office or any similar professional-type situation. For shopping, I make sure he’s gotten that treatment within the last four days, and it gets renewed any time he gets play time out in the wild.

      Every now and then someone notices he smells of coconut. When they ask why, I tell them it’s because I can’t find raspberry-scented conditioner any more. 🙂 After the laugh, I explain the real reason.

      • Shelly April 19, 2017

        Many people are actually allergic to dogs saliva and for people with Asthma this can be especially dangerous. Also scented products are very painful for people with Asthma. I know I had to quit my job because of people’s scented products were giving me daily asthma attacks. So what smells good to some might be hurting others.

    • John Parsons April 11, 2016

      A disabled person should be allowed to choose the treatment plan that is best for him or her. A service dog should not have to be relegated to a last option. Having a disability means not being able to function “normally.” A service dog allows me to function as close to normal as I possibly can.

  • Twyla Logan December 31, 2015

    I found this whole article and resulting debate highly educational! As the mother of a 12 year old son with high functioning autism, and a 50 year plus owner of German Shepherd Dogs, I also was able to see EVERYONE’s point of view in this debate. I have personally seen the miracles that can happen through the presence of an Emotional Service Animal, and we additionally trained a couple of tasks to meet the legal requirement for Service Dog designation before we registered Zeus as such at the age of 8. I lost Zeus Christmas Eve morning and the GSD puppy we were given is now merely an ESA, but will be wearing “In Training” “Autism Service Dog” patches as soon as we achieve some reliable basic obedience. That “In Training” patch will come off the moment I can say at least one task is reliably performed on cue. Because he has Sensory Integration Disorder, (diagnosed at 30 months), my child REQUIRES the presence of his dog to function in this over stimulating world. I, too, consider the mere presence of Zena, our new puppy, WORK, because it refocuses Ryan’s ability to tune out overstimulation that would create repetitive meltdowns. I don’t really understand how this happens, but I’ll gratefully take it and praise my Heavenly Father for His provision and the normal life it allows that most take for granted.

  • John Parsons April 11, 2016

    The author uses the terms “cause and effect.” As I recall it, the ADA Final Rule uses the terms “recognize and respond” in the same way. The dog must recognize the symptom (the cue) and then respond in accordance with its training. Then, and only then, is the dog a service animal. It doesn’t matter if the disabled person needs work or tasks as long as the dog has been trained to recognize the cue and trained to respond to that cue. A cue does not have to be a command; it can be anything the dog can be trained to recognize.

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  • Bailey April 14, 2017

    As someone had said, some who wrote or contributed to this article doesn’t know anything about canine behavior.
    Oh, a dog likes to lick their owners. But because he does it as a warning or alert for a symptom of a disabilty, it doesn’t qualify as a task.
    The pairing here is Recognition and Response. I see no where in the law that a dog can’t use an innate behavior to alert their handler. Dogs aren’t 100% reprogrammable. “Sorry Bailey, but standing in front or in back of me as a blocking move is something ALL dogs can do naturally. Ya gotta be smarter and lick my thumb if it’s anxiety, my pinky finger if panic attack. Just licking my hand won’t do regardless of why you’re doing it.”

    Someone confronting my with the allegations and hogwash from this article will receive the same response as a denial of access issue. I don’t care if it insults your trainer needs but those aren’t in the ADA.

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