Do you have physical limitations that stop you from living a normal life? You may be qualified for a Service Dog. Find tips below on how to register your dog as a service dog.

The Service Dog is a type of assistance animal that is trained to do specific tasks for the disabled individual. This can include opening doors, retrieving items, responding to an emergency situation and guiding the person through busy crowds or traffic.

Depending on your disability you may or may not be able to use your current pet as a Service Dog. For example if you need a Service Dog for physical stability, a Chihuahua would not be the best choice; however, it may be able to retrieve dropped items or alert you before a panic attack.

Lets explore the tasks and training of your Service Dog, as well as the registration process.

Step 1. Make sure your dog has the right temperament to be a service dog and train basic commands
Step 2. Train your dog to provide a service for your disability
Step 3. Register your dog
Step 4. Receive your identification card

Training Your Dog to Perform a Task to Aid With Your Disability

Is your dog intelligent and eager to please? Then he may have the makings of a great Service Dog. Proper temperament is important when training for a service animal.

Basic commands should be second nature to a service dog. Make sure that you have trained your dog to follow your “sit”, “down”, “stay”, “come” commands on demand. This is a prerequisite for all service dogs.

The foundation of teaching your dog a specific task is the same as teaching basic obedience, and good manners, except you will need to take things a step further.

You will have to decide whether to teach your dog verbal or hand commands or a combination of both. Use both food treats and praise when training your canine. Harsh words and punishment will only create fear and mistrust in your assistance animal.

Traveling With Your Service Dog in Busy Public Places

Part of your canine’s training will be taking him or her out in public. Your dog will have to get used to busy places with lots of distractions, without losing focus. The following areas and tasks can be practiced with your Service Dog outside of the home.

  1. Public Park: this is a good place to practice any number of tasks such as retrieving dropped items, bark for help command (bring someone with you as to not cause an alarm) help walk short distances by providing balance or help handler in a wheelchair up a slight incline.
  2. Restaurant/Cafe – Guiding: a restaurant is a good place to practice impulse control and get your dog used to loud noises and enticing smells. This is for advanced service animals.
  3. Shopping Mall – Navigating Crowds: a shopping mall is a good place to practice having your dog in a crowded place with lots of people walking around. Choose a time when the mall is not too busy to practice with your dog.
  4. Grocery Store – Paying for Items: some checkout stands can have high counters, your dog will have to practice paying for items if you are out of reach.
  5. Public Restroom – Closing the Door: if you are unable to close a public bathroom door, your dog will need to be able to do so. When the restroom door opens inward, your Service Dog will have to pull the leash tied to the doorknob. If the door opens outward, your canine helper will have to deliver the end of the leash to you.

Registering Your Service Dog

Register your Service Dog

Although it is not a legal requirement, certifying your Service Dog can eliminate any confusion you may have in public places. You can do this through a specific organization for your disability, for example, the Hearing Dogs for the Deaf.

Although not legally required, you may want to have a letter from your doctor stating your disability and also a health certificate from your canine’s veterinarian stating he/she is in good health. With this documentation, you can then send it away to the appropriate licensing body.

Once your dog is certified, you will be provided with identification in the form of a vest for your canine, a certificate and ID badges.

Get a Service Dog and Live Again

If you have a disability and think a Service Dog may be of help to you, then start the process. Whether you get a dog that has already been trained or you have trained your dog yourself, having a canine helper will help put you on the road to living again.