How to Get a Service Dog Certification

In the United States, service dog certification is not required by law, but some states may require the dog owner to obtain ID tags. A service dog certification and a vest with a visible patch is useful when walking a dog into a place of business.

Service dogs aid people with physical disabilities not related to sight or hearing. Service dogs are trained to pick up dropped objects, open and close doors, turn light switches on and off and help its master get out of a chair, or off of the floor, in the event of a fall. Many dog breeds can successfully undergo service dog training, but golden retrievers and Labrador’s are the common breed.

Service Dog Laws

According to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), businesses serving the public are prohibited from discriminating against individuals with a disability and the law requires businesses to allow a disabled individual to bring their service dog onto the premises where customers are normally allowed.

Anyone who denies a disabled individual and his service dog access to a public business is breaking the law and subject to legal consequence.

The ADA Act officially defines a service dog as “any guide dog, signal dog, or other animal individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including but not limited to guiding individuals with impaired vision, alerting individuals with impaired hearing to intruders or sounds, providing minimal protection or rescue work, pulling a wheelchair, or fetching dropped items.

In the United Kingdom, owners are required to obtain certification and tags for their service dog, while the United States does not require certification, but some states may require a form of ID. In countries lacking ID laws, it is illegal for anyone to demand certification documentation, or ID tags.

Service Dog Certification Scams

There are scams for everything in this world and unfortunately there are pathetic people who hide behind their computer and rip off disabled people with service dog scams. There are several web-based companies luring certificate seekers into paying expensive fees for a “service dog certificate”, without even undergoing a dog training course, or verifying the dog’s abilities. The fees range from $50 all the way up to $300 or more for the “training kit”, plus shipping and handling expense.

In many cases, the certificate issued by these sites is nothing more than a worthless piece of paper that holds no official certification value. The U.S. Department of Justice does not currently require dog owners to certify their dog, but a real certification, patch and ID issued through a legitimate dog training course at a school is very beneficial for disabled people who frequently bring their dog into public places, because it immediately prevents any awkward dispute or complaints. 

Service Dog Certification Process

Avoid the certification scams online. The dog should participate in a training program and pass a field test as part of the certification process. The field test involves taking the dog into a public place where the tester grades the dog on its behavior and obedience. If the dog appears aggravated, unruly, or nervous around people, additional training is required, or the dog simply may not be suitable for servicing the disabled.

A dog should be trained as a puppy, but this is not always an option since people get adult dogs that may have already been trained. You can certify a trained dog by first receiving a note from your doctor, confirming the dog owner’s disability and the need for a service dog. Obtain a letter from the vet, confirming the dog is trained and does not pose a threat, or a danger to the public.

Dog owner’s must obtain proof of vaccinations from the vet. Legitimate sites, such as the National Association of Service Dogs, can certify a service dog after providing all of the required information on the application. You must includes the pet’s name, your home address and all necessary vet and doctor paperwork along with the application. There is a one-time fee of $50.

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