How Can My Dog Become a Service Dog?

Service dogs are incredibly important. They dedicate their lives to helping humans, acting as crucial guides and partners to many people with disabilities. They can alert diabetics to blood sugar spikes, help blind individuals navigate the world, and soothe anxiety and other emotional distress.

While becoming a service dog is a prestigious title, here’s something few people realize: any dog, including your own dog, can become a service dog. If you’d like your pup to become a service dog, the process is actually quite easy.

The following are the different types of service or support animal your dog can become.

Service Dog

According to the ADA Network, a service dog is any pup who’s trained to work or complete tasks for an individual with disabilities. Service dogs can help with physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or mental disabilities. Their training is focused on helping with tasks specific to one kind of disability, but no matter their owner’s condition, a service dog can also offer emotional support, comfort, and companionship.

Benefits of Being a Service Dog

  • Businesses of any kind must allow service dogs to enter public areas.
  • Landlords must allow service dogs, regardless of whether or not they allow pets.
  • Landlords cannot charge additional rent because of a service dog.
  • Airlines must allow service dogs to fly for free.
  • Restaurants must allow service dogs in dining areas.

How to Register Your Dog

If you’re interested in training or registering your dog as a service dog, it’s important to note that the ADA does not require service dogs to be professionally trained. Individuals can choose to train service dogs as needed for their disability or health conditions.

Additionally, the ADA doesn’t require service dogs to be registered in any way. However, if you’d like to prove the validity of your dog’s training as a service animal, the United States Service Dog Registry does register pups who’ve undergone minimum training standards and a public skills test. The United States Service Dog Registry can provide you and your dog with a certificate of completion or a professional training certificate, if you’d like.

Emotional Support Animal

An emotional support animal performs a valuable service just like any service dog – but there’s a difference. Emotional support dogs don’t perform the same tasks as service dogs. Instead of working, these dogs provide support and comfort. Emotional support dogs offer affectionate interaction, and any good-tempered dog who can offer comfort can become one.

Benefits of Being an Emotional Support Dog

  • Landlords must allow emotional support dogs in apartments, even if they have a no-pet policy.
  • Landlords cannot charge additional rent for emotional support dogs.
  • Airlines must allow emotional support dogs to travel inside the plane cabin for free.

How to Register Your Dog

Like service dogs, emotional support dogs don’t need to have any specific professional training. There are no professional requirements for emotional support dogs, and your dog doesn’t need to be registered with any organization.

To prove that your dog is an emotional support animal for air travel and landlords, you’ll need a letter from a doctor. That letter should prove that a medical professional recommends an emotional support dog for one of the many qualifying conditions, like depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, panic attacks, or PTSD.

Therapy Dog

Therapy dogs are something of a new addition to the different types of service dogs that exist. They’ve been popping up everywhere lately, from airports to hospitals to college campuses and everywhere in between. Therapy dogs typically work with a handler who brings them to individuals who need stress relief. They can offer comfort, lower stress levels, and provide assistance for people suffering from trauma or high levels of stress.

Benefits of Being a Therapy Dog

Unfortunately, therapy dogs don’t enjoy benefits like service or emotional support dogs. They don’t have any legal protections, meaning landlords can deny them to renters and they aren’t allowed in many public places. They are simply a regular dog, though they can offer great comfort.

How to Register Your Dog

Any dog can become a therapy dog – there’s no registration or training necessary. In fact, therapy dogs don’t even need to learn special tasks or work. There aren’t any registries or certifications either. However, if your dog is working or volunteering as a therapy dog, the organization you’re joining forces with may require some training.

Help Your Dog Become a Service Dog Today

Now that you know what kinds of service animals can exist, you can begin working with your dog on any training, qualifications, or registration he needs. With the right doggy skillset, any appropriate certifications, and some patience, any dog can become a service animal of some kind.

Consider beginning your dog’s training today. Whether he’ll become a service dog, an emotional support dog, or a therapy dog, the process is much easier than many people think. All you need to do before you begin training is to make sure you’ve done your homework.

Research the different categories of service animals, and see which option is best suited for your dog’s personality and temperament. If you search online, you can learn more about each service category, their requirements, and your dog’s different choices.

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