What qualifies a dog to be a service dog? Their training! Service dogs are specially trained to perform tasks to assist individuals who have disabilities and increase their independence. It typically takes two full years to train a service dog. These dogs allow individuals who have disabilities to live more independently with their help.
Service dogs are considered medical equipment under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Service dogs aren’t pets. They are working animals that support people with physical impairments or mental health conditions by doing things like:
- Picking up items off the ground for a person with limited mobility
- Calming a person with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) during an anxiety attack
- Notifying a person who is deaf to the sound of a doorbell and taking that person to the door
- Soothing a person with autism when they are upset
For a person with a disability, having a highly-trained assistance dog is life-changing. Beyond helping increase a person’s independence by happily performing daily tasks, service dogs offer feelings of security, companionship, and unconditional love. This relationship develops into a special human-canine bond.
Although they also provide important comfort to people with disabilities, dogs that only provide emotional support do not qualify as service animals under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA).
Learn more about:
- What makes a good service dog
- Types of service dogs
- Our training process
- Fundraising for your dog
- How to apply for a service dog