Service Dog Basics

Service Dog Basics

Service Dogs. You’re seeing them more and more everyday. But what exactly constitutes a Service Dog? 

Service dogs are highly trained to assist their disabled handlers. A service dog must perform specialized tasks to help mitigate their handler’s disability. They must also be outstandingly obedient and well-behaved in any environment. It can take years of constant training for a dog to become a service dog. Service dog registries and certifications available on the internet are scams and have no legal standing. 

For a dog to become a service dog, it must be task-trained to assist its disabled handler. 

What kind of disabilities can service dogs help mitigate?

Service dogs can help people with countless disabilities, including but not limited to: mobility challenges, visual impairment, hearing loss of deafness, psychiatric conditions, autism, epilepsy and diabetes. You must be disabled to have a service dog. 

Can service dogs go everywhere with their handlers?

Generally, yes. The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) is the document that requires public places to allow service dogs access. Businesses may ask service dog handlers two questions:

  1. Is that a service dog?
  2. What tasks is it trained to perform to help mitigate a disability?

They only places service dogs may be excluded are sterile operating rooms and burn units. 

Service dogs exist for incredibly important reasons. Service Dog Handlers do not simply wish to take their dogs everywhere- in fact, most would rather not need their dogs’ assistance in the first place. 

So why is this important to know? What is the deal with fake service dogs?

Pets fraudulently represented as service dogs have become a nationwide epidemic. People across the nation have been buying fake service dog vests, ID cards and certification to take their pets into public places. This has lead to countless stories of legitimate service dogs and members of the general public being attacked by fake service dogs. Animals for comfort or emotional support ARE NOT SERVICE ANIMALS and are not granted public access rights. If a service dog is not housebroken, acting aggressively, or out of the handler’s control, a business may require for the dog to be removed from the premises. 

A legitimate service dog will not relieve itself inappropriately, act aggressively towards any person or animal, bark or whine excessively, or be out of control of the handler’s control. 

What about Emotional Support Dogs?

Emotional support dogs, also known as emotional support animals or ESAs, are NOT SERVICE ANIMALS and may not be taken into public places. ESAa can be any animal, and are used to provide comfort to someone with a documented mental illness. While ESAs are not allowed in non-pet-friendly places, they are protected under the Fair Housing Act and the Air Carriers Access Act. This means that ESA owners may not be discriminated against when leasing housing, and they may take their ESAs on planes. Emotional Support Animals do not require any training, and there is no vest, ID card, certification or registration to make your pet an ESA. The only way to make a pet an ESA is to get a letter from a licensed mental health professional. 

Are Therapy Dogs the same as Service Dogs?

No. Therapy dogs are taken to schools, hospitals, nursing homes and other places to provide comfort to many different people. They MUST be certified with a therapy dog organization.

Dogologie sells vests and patches to help those who actually require a service dog find products easier. Not to promote the use of “fake service dogs”. We hope that guests who come in asking for our vests and patches know the laws and definitions between service dogs, ESAs, and therapy dogs. If you have any questions about our vests or patches, come into the store and ask!

For any further questions about service dogs or the ADA, please visit: or call the ADA information line at 800-514-0301