Believe it or not, there is no license or permit requirement to have a service dog. The ADA (Americans With Disabilities Act) reads that a service animal is a guide dog, signal dog, or other animal trained to provide assistance to an individual with a disability. Again, the ADA doesn’t require governmental certification, of any kind, for service dogs. Further, businesses have to abide by the ADA law as it pertains to service dogs and must allow entrance to their places of business irregardless of whether the dog is displaying a service uniform, tag or other declaration. Additionally, businesses that work with the public, including stores and restaurants, can not require proof of the disability or a service dog certification.
So what does the dog owner need to do in order to make his dog an official service dog? Technically? Nothing. There are only 2 questions a store owner can ask when you arrive with your service dog. In situations where it’s not obvious that the dog is indeed a service dog, the store owner (or staff) can only ask (1) is the dog a service animal required because of a disability? and (2) what work or task has the dog been trained to perform? Again, staff cannot require documentation, ask the dog to demonstrate his task, or ask about the person’s disability. In fact, the only times the staff can ask the owner to remove his service dog is when the dog is out of control and the owner fails to take corrective action, or the service dog is not housebroken.
Fun Facts: Inside an establishment, the service dog can go anywhere their owner goes. A store employee’s or customer’s statement that she is allergic to dogs is an unacceptable excuse to remove the dog from the establishment. Service dogs are not pets. One should not pet or play with a service dog unless permission is granted by the owner. No identification card or documentation is required to on the service dog or on the owner’s person.
If your dog is likely to be “out of control” and/or is not housebroken, you risk being removed from the store’s premises. You can prevent such issues by having your dog pass the American Kennel Club’s Canine Good Citizen exam. Once passed, you can be assured your dog will not lose control in any normal store setting. However, most dogs require a great deal of training to pass this exam. The requirements of the CGC exam are listed at this URL: https://www.akc.org/products-services/training-programs/canine-good-citizen/what-is-canine-good-citizen/. There are 10 key areas of the test, some are much more difficult than others. Sit, Down, Stay, and Come are all mandatory. But your dog must also be able to walk through a crowd of people and walk past another dog without pulling on the leash, jumping, licking or barking. In fact if the dog does any of these things during any of the 10 components of the test, he immediately fails the test.
Top Dog Training offers a training program for the Canine Good Citizen exam. We will also assist you in preparing the paperwork and setting you up with a CGC evaluation. You may contact us at email@example.com or 646-991-0333.