Service Dog Info.

 This is a page where I will post general information about service dogs.  I will include items like ADA law, proper service dog ettiquette, and any other service dog related items I choose.

This is the text of the United States ADA law - including the 2010 revisions.   I copied it from the Department of Justice Website. 

Service animal means 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.

§ 35.136 Service animals

(a) General. Generally, a public entity shall modify its policies, practices, or procedures to permit the use of a service animal by an individual with a disability.
(b) Exceptions. A public entity may ask an individual with a disability to remove a service animal from the premises if—
(1) The animal is out of control and the animal's handler does not take effective action to control it; or
(2) The animal is not housebroken.
(c) If an animal is properly excluded. If a public entity properly excludes a service animal under § 35.136(b), it shall give the individual with a disability the opportunity to participate in the service, program, or activity without having the service animal on the premises.
(d) Animal under handler's control. A service animal shall be under the control of its handler. A service animal shall have a harness, leash, or other tether, unless either the handler is unable because of a disability to use a harness, leash, or other tether, or the use of a harness, leash, or other tether would interfere with the service animal's safe, effective performance of work or tasks, in which case the service animal must be otherwise under the handler's control (e.g., voice control, signals, or other effective means).
(e) Care or supervision. A public entity is not responsible for the care or supervision of a service animal.
(f) Inquiries. A public entity shall not ask about the nature or extent of a person's disability, but may make two inquiries to determine whether an animal qualifies as a service animal. A public entity may ask if the animal is required because of a disability and what work or task the animal has been trained to perform. A public entity shall not require documentation, such as proof that the animal has been certified, trained, or licensed as a service animal. Generally, a public entity may not make these inquiries about a service animal when it is readily apparent that an animal is trained to do work or perform tasks for an individual with a disability (e.g., the dog is observed guiding an individual who is blind or has low vision, pulling a person's wheelchair, or providing assistance with stability or balance to an individual with an observable mobility disability).
(g) Access to areas of a public entity. Individuals with disabilities shall be permitted to be accompanied by their service animals in all areas of a public entity's facilities where members of the public, participants in services, programs or activities, or invitees, as relevant, are allowed to go.
(h) Surcharges. A public entity shall not ask or require an individual with a disability to pay a surcharge, even if people accompanied by pets are required to pay fees, or to comply with other requirements generally not applicable to people without pets. If a public entity normally charges individuals for the damage they cause, an individual with a disability may be charged for damage caused by his or her service animal.
(i) Miniature horses.
(1) Reasonable modifications. A public entity shall make reasonable modifications in policies, practices, or procedures to permit the use of a miniature horse by an individual with a disability if the miniature horse has been individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of the individual with a disability.
(2) Assessment factors. In determining whether reasonable modifications in policies, practices, or procedures can be made to allow a miniature horse into a specific facility, a public entity shall consider—
(i) The type, size, and weight of the miniature horse and whether the facility can accommodate these features;
(ii) Whether the handler has sufficient control of the miniature horse;
(iii) Whether the miniature horse is housebroken; and
(iv) Whether the miniature horse's presence in a specific facility compromises legitimate safety requirements that are necessary for safe operation.
(3) Other requirements. Paragraphs 35.136 (c) through (h) of this section, which apply to service animals, shall also apply to miniature horses.

Second:   Definitions and distinctions as I understand them.
The ADA law I posted applies to service dogs only.
Therapy dogs do not have the same access rights. Service dogs and therapy dogs are potty trained. If an animal eliminates indoors, it is either sick, or a fake.
Faking a service dog is against the law.

Service dogs work for a disabled handler to help that person manage their disability.

Therapy dogs are well behaved pets that visit facilities like nursing homes to cheer people up. Therapy dogs are not service dogs. They have good obedience training, but are not trained to mitigate a disability.

Facility dogs are not service dogs, they are trained to do work in specific facilities, such as physical therapy, they are not covered by the ADA, they do not have full access rights.

Many people abuse the laws because not everyone is fully educated about them. Many people don't know that an emotional support animal is not the same thing as a psych service dog.

An emotional support animal has no training. It is the pet of a disabled person that provides emotional support, like making them happy by petting it.

Service animals are not pets.

Emotional support and therapy animals are pets.

Psych service dogs are not the same as therapy, facility, or emotional support animals.
Some service dog handlers will volunteer to allow their service dog to also perform therapy work. Therapy dogs usually have to pass a therapy dog test before they can go to facilities to do therapy work. Pretending a therapy dog is a service dog to be able to bring it into a restaurant or other area is illegal. Many therapy dog organizations will disqualify and revoke therapy dog status if they find out the member is using the therapy dog work vest to pretend the dog is a service dog. So, a service dog may also be a therapy dog. But being a therapy dog, does not make a dog a service dog.

To be a service dog, the owner/handler must be disabled and the dog must be trained to help mitigate that disability. For example, a seizure alert dog will let the disabled handler know they are going to have a seizure, so that person knows to get into a safe position, not to try driving or walking up stairs. A diabetic alert dog is trained to let a diabetic person know their sugar level is off and needs to be tested and medicated. A psych service dog is trained to calm and ground its handler during panic, to stop self destructive or repetitive behaviors, remind/make the handler to take their medicine, or many other tasks. Each tasks/work is trained to fit the specific disability. A hearing alert dog is trained to let their handler know that someone is talking to them, a phone is ringing, someone is at the door, etc.....

The disability access rights reside with the handler or trainer.  If a healthy person obtains a trained service dog, the dog no longer has access rights.  The dog must be accompanied by a disabled person or a trainer.

 Myself and many others in the working dog community use initials, I will explain them here.

SD = service dog
TD = therapy dog
S&R or SAR = search and rescue
MA = medical alert
PSD = psych service dog
CSD = certified service dog (usually from a program)
RSD = registered service dog
K9 = police and military bomb, drug, tracking, etc..........
SDiT = service dog in training
PSDS = Psych service dog society

These are all therapy dog groups.
TDI = therapy dog international
DS = delta society
HALO (I don't remember what it stands for, it is a therapy dog group)

This one is a service dog training program:
CCI = Canine Companions for Independence (they train mobility dogs for persons in wheelchairs)

A guide dog is a seeing eye dog.
A mobility assistance dog helps people in wheelchairs, some are also used to balance, like a cane. They open doors, pick things up,etc...............
A medical alert dog lets the owner know they are about to become ill
A medical response dog helps the person after they are already ill. For example, a seizure alert dog tells the owner they are about to have a seizure, a seizure response dog helps once the seizure happens, many are trained to break the owners fall, by positioning them selves so the owner falls on them instead of hitting their head on the floor. Usually larger dogs do that task. Some are trained to use special K9 phones to call 911. Medical alert/response dogs have many different tasks because they help with so many different illnesses. PSD are in the MA dog category.

  CGC = Canine Good Citizen.
It is a test by the AKC = American Kennel Club. Service and Therapy have to meet the CGC behavior standard. Therapy dogs usually have to take the test, service dogs are not required to take the test, but need to be able to behave well enough to pass it. I don't know if S&R or K9 need to take that test or not. Their work is so different from SD work.
the CGC has 10 things that a dogs need to be able to do. It basically means the dog is obedient and not a danger to humans or other dogs. To get your CGC certificate, you need to pass the test and your owner needs to sign the responsible owner pledge.

The CGC TEST consists of 10 skills needed by all well-mannered dogs.
All of the exercises are done on a leash.

Test 1: Accepting a friendly stranger
The dog will allow a friendly stranger to approach it and speak to the
handler in a natural, everyday situation.

Test 2: Sitting politely for petting
The dog will allow a friendly stranger to pet it while it is out with its handler.

Test 3: Appearance and grooming
The dog will welcome being groomed and examined and will permit
someone, such as a veterinarian, groomer or friend of the owner, to do so.

Test 4: Out for a walk (walking on a loose lead)
The handler/dog team will take a short “walk” to show that the dog is in control while walking on a leash.

Test 5: Walking through a crowd
The dog and handler walk around and pass close to several people (at least three) to demonstrate that the dog can move about politely in pedestrian traffic and is under control in public places.

Test 6: Sit and down on command and Staying in place
The dog will respond to the handler’s commands to 1) sit, 2) down
and will 3) remain in the place commanded by the handler (sit or down
position, whichever the handler prefers).

Test 7: Coming when called
The dog will come when called by the handler. The handler will walk
10 feet from the dog, turn to face the dog, and call the dog.

Test 8: Reaction to another dog
To demonstrate that the dog can behave politely around other dogs,
two handlers and their dogs approach each other from a distance of about 20 feet, stop, shake hands and exchange pleasantries, and continue on for about 10 feet.

Test 9: Reaction to distraction
To demonstrate the dog is confident when faced with common distracting
situations, the evaluator will select and present two distractions. Examples of distractions include dropping a chair, rolling a crate dolly past the dog, having a jogger run in front of the dog, or dropping a crutch or cane.

Test 10: Supervised separation
This test demonstrates that a dog can be left with a trusted person, if necessary, and will maintain training and good manners. Evaluators are encouraged to say something like, “Would you like me to watch your
dog?” and then take hold of the dog’s leash. The owner will go out of sight for three minutes.

You’ll need to bring your dog’s brush or comb to the CGC test. In the
CGC test, dogs must wear a buckle collar or slip collar.
For details regarding equipment, expanded descriptions of the exercises above, and how the CGC Test is administered, see:

 Many non-working dogs take the CGC also. Some insurances or landlords require some dogs to pass the CGC. I have heard there are some dog parks where they want the dogs to have their CGC, but I have not seen one of those dog parks. Some pet owners want their dog to have their CGC so they are more likely to be given the benefit of the doubt by shelters in some situations like if they are lost and hurt, instead of being put down as a dangerous dog.

PAT = public access test (SD have to meet this standard of behavior, but no test is required, but a video of the dog taking and passing this test is useful if you have to go to court to prove you are a SD)

Disclaimer:  I am not a lawyer or expert in any profession.  All my information has been collected from the internet and personal experience.


  1. Please feel free to use any information on this page. It is all public information. I plan to add more to it, such as how to act around a service dog (ie. ignore it).

  2. Great work Pepper! I was going to recommend to include information about what to do if you approach a service dog "Ask to Pet" first ect...I already see that you have that planned to do soon.
    Also if your see SD alerting their owner, let the dog work and don't try to step in.

  3. Excellent explanation of the difference between service dogs and therapy dogs. So many people confuse the two.