Service dogs are not just for the blind. They provide vital assistance to people with many types of disabilities, both seen and unseen. They can detect blood sugar changes in people with diabetes, predict seizure in individuals with epilepsy, and help those with movement disorders and paralysis. They can calm and comfort people with PTSD, anxiety and depression, as well as children with autism and those who suffer social anxiety. If you have been diagnosed with a physical, mental or emotional disorder or disability, you may wonder if a service dog could help you to navigate your condition. If you already have a canine companion, the bond you already have can make it an ideal candidate for a service dog.

What Kind of Dog Can Be A Service Dog?

Any breed of dog can be a service dog, as long as the animal does not pose a direct threat to anyone’s health or safety. While some city ordinances ban particular breeds due to assumptions and stereotypes suggesting they are more dangerous than other breeds, these ordinances do not apply to service dogs as long as they pose no direct threat to others. Business and landlords may not prohibit a service dog regardless of city ordinances or their personal beliefs about the dog’s breed.

In certain circumstances a dog’s access to particular areas may be restricted to protect others, regardless of the breed. For example, boarding schools may restrict service dogs to certain areas to protect students who are allergic to pet dander. Dogs may also be unwelcome in certain areas in a zoo, where their presence may disrupt and agitate the zoo’s animals.

Service Dog Requirements

While any dog can be a service dog, there are certain requirements you and your dog must meet before venturing out in public. Regardless of your disability, you are responsible for your dog’s conduct and care in public places. Restaurants and other businesses are not required to provide food or water for your pet, or supervision. While you are not required to register your service pet, registration can be beneficial in providing documentation of your dog’s status. Service dogs are also subject to the same vaccination and registration laws as the normal canine population.

Where Can I Learn How To Make My Dog a Service Dog?

Service Dog Express helps owners to train their dogs to assist with many different disabilities. Once you have requested assistance, you will receive basic training information and an introductory visit to assess your dog’s suitability for service and to set up a training plan. Trainers typically visit weekly, and owners are encouraged to practice the training tactics throughout the week to reinforce learning. Trainers will teach owners to use positive reinforcement to teach basic commands such as “sit”, “stay”, “come” and “down”. While a trainer’s assistance can be invaluable, it is the time you spend practicing with your dog that will build the confidence and trust that you’ll need to navigate the world with your dog by your side.

When you and your pet have mastered basic commands, you will be ready to take your dog into public areas where he or she can practice following orders in new and distracting locations and situations. You will also learn more advanced commands that will enable your dog to truly assist you in your disability. Service Dog Express helps owners and their dogs to pass Assistance Dogs International’s Public Access Test, an accomplishment that demonstrates that the dog is prepared to serve and behave appropriately in public venues.

If you are suffering from a disability, your canine may be able to help you in many ways. When you train your pet to be a service animal, you’ll find that it is not only a comforting companion, but also an invaluable source of support.