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What You Need to Know About Service Dogs

Service dogs – how to have good manners around them, what they do, what rights disabled people have when using service dogs.

By
Jolanta Benal, CPDT-KA, CBCC-KA
December 31, 2013
Episode #104

Page 2 of 4

A service dog can remind the vet to take his medication and can help ease the PTSD symptoms by alerting her handler to someone approaching from behind and blocking the person’s approach if need be. Seizure alert dogs can warn their handlers when a seizure is imminent, brace them while they position themselves safely, and bring the phone so the person can call 911.

Service Dogs Can Do Housework for People with Limited Mobility

People whose mobility is limited may have service dogs who turn lights on and off or even do the laundry. Debi Davis is a famous clicker trainer who lost both legs to a vascular disorder. Her famous article “From Lap to Laundry” describes how her Papillon Peek hits the snooze button on her alarm, makes the bed, fetches the phone, and takes clean laundry out of the dryer and puts it in the basket.

What Dogs Can Be Service Dogs?

It’s true that the service dogs we see most commonly are Labs, but any dog who’s behaviorally healthy and physically able to perform the needed tasks may be a service dog. And the service dog’s handler is not required to carry any formal certifying documents. In fact, it’s entirely possible that she has no such papers. Many people who need specialized assistance have learned to select and train their own dogs rather than wait for a dog from an agency.

Where Can Service Dogs Go?

If you’re a business owner and a customer enters with a service dog, your legal responsibility is to treat that customer just the way you would anyone else.

If you’re a business owner and a customer enters with a service dog, your legal responsibility is to treat that customer just the way you would anyone else. You are allowed to ask whether the dog is a service dog. You can also remove a customer whose service animal is threatening or out of control, though you probably ought to cut the working team some slack if, say, the dog barks once. Even the steadiest animal gets startled sometimes.

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