When people begin to research how to register a service dog, many of them become surprised at just how disciplined an animal must be to truly be considered one of service. Although any breed can become a service dog, he or she must exhibit higher-than-average intelligence and discipline in order to be allowed to interact with the public in places were dogs aren’t normally permitted. As you begin your journey to registering your service companion, consider how your dog behaves.

Your Dog Must Have Excellent Listening Skills

If you want to register your dog as a service companion, he or she must be able to focus on you at all times unless performing a task related to a command you’ve given. This includes ignoring any and all distractions such as loud or unexpected noises, other animals and people in the vicinity, food smells and anything else that would normally attract a dog’s attention. Your dog must also have a stable temperament and not become anxious, reactive or aggressive around people or other animals or in situations in which he or she isn’t used to being.

A Service Dog Must Walk Well on a Leash

You could argue that any dog should walk well on a leash, but service dogs must be especially good at it. Your dog should not pull or strain on the leash when walking or seated and cannot lag behind you or circle you, even if you are standing still while checking out merchandise or performing some other task. A good service dog will lay quietly while you are at restaurants or otherwise seated in public. He or she can change position for comfort, but anything beyond that is considered a lack of discipline.

Your Dog Must Be Professional

Just like you must act professionally at your place of employment, so must your service companion. He or she must remain quiet. There should never be any vocalization unless it is specific to the given task. Your partner must be well-groomed and appear clean and professional. He or she cannot sniff other people, animals, objects or food. The exception is if your companion is trained to sniff out allergens or has another nose-specific job.

A Service Dog Must Do the Job Given

Your boss expects you to respond quickly with no reluctance to anything he or she asks you to do, and your dog should do the same when responding to your commands. Service dog certification requires the animal be partnered with someone who has a physical disability and have the ability to perform specific tasks.

Laws Surrounding Service Dogs

U.S. federal law gives you permission to take your dog with you into nearly any public establishment, event or situation without requiring you to present written documentation. This is contingent on his or her ability to listen and your ability to answer any business owner who asks what the dog does for you. The law does protect businesses in some situations. If an animal, even one the owner calls a service animal, urinates or defecates in the building or otherwise is disruptive, aggressive or out of control, the business owner can request it be removed. He or she cannot ask the patron to leave and must provide assistance during the patron’s stay in the establishment. Emotional support animals are not considered service animals and thereby not protected by federal law. However, as long as he or she is well behaved, many business owners are supportive of emotional support dogs.

Some people prefer to carry written documentation even though it is not a requirement. Doing so sometimes makes life with a service dog easier when people ask questions. USA Service Dog Registry offers affordable service dog registration packages that include ID tags and written documentation.