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Opinion: Service Dogs

Updated: Oct 15, 2021

Let's start off by stating that this blog post is purely opinion based on education and knowledge of canine training, Service Dog Training, Service Dog Laws, ADA Regulations, and business ownership.

Many videos of dogs in equipment, harnesses, wearing service dog patches and identifiers, dogs behaving well in public places, or showing off their service dog tasks have gone viral. Some dogs are undoubtedly capable of learning very reliable obedience as well as impressive tasks to make their owner's lives easier, so its no surprise the public audience enjoys seeing these videos.

With the increasing popularity of service dogs on social media, its also no surpise to see an increasing number of "Fake Service Dogs," or rather unacceptable or inappropriate service dogs.

Fake Service Dogs

Wouldn't it be great to be able to take your pet dog with you everywhere? I mean, they do really help make our lives better, right? Maybe you suffer from depression, or anxiety, or any other condition that your dog really just helps you deal with on a daily basis. It would be nice if that was enough to call your dog a service dog, but unfortunately, it is not.

As a Dog Trainer, who has worked with and trained service dogs, fake service dogs are very easy to spot. Additionally, the inappropriate behaviors that a dog displays are often more than enough grounds for a business owner or manager to legally ask for the dog to be removed from the business property.

If I decided to bring a service dog into a public establishment that does not normally allow pets and my dog performs any behavior that is considered inappropriate, the person in charge of the business can legally ask me to remove my dog from the business.

**The business must allow me to still purchase my items after the dog has been removed.

Inappropriate behaviors could include, but not limited to:

  • Barking

  • Growling

  • Sniffing strangers

  • Sniffing merchandise

  • Begging

  • Whining

  • Jumping

  • Urinating/Deficating

  • Disrupting property through physical contact (wagging tail even)

  • Lunging

  • Aggressive Behaviors

  • Fearful Behaviors

  • Picking up items without permission or cue

  • Even excessive drooling

  • Poor grooming

  • Poor health

Service dogs should not be sitting on any furniture, benches, merchandise or riding in a shopping cart.

Service dogs should not be sitting at the table.

Service dogs should not be permitted to receive attention from anyone but their handler.

Service dogs should not be out of control.

Service dogs should not be required to carried in order to be kept under control.

Service dogs should not need to ride in a stroller or cart.

Service dogs should not be off leash unless a leash would prevent their ability to safely perform their specified tasks.

However, just because a service dog makes a mistake, or has a moment of poor judgement, doesn't mean that the dog is not a real service dog, but even in those moments, they may be asked to leave.

**Just because a dog is behaving poorly, does not require that the manager to ask them to leave either.

What's the big deal?

Bringing a dog into a public space, and that dog is not an appropriate or trained service dog, can be a nuisance and sometimes even dangerous. Any dog that demonstrates or has a history of fear or aggression in any way are a potential liability to other people and as well as highly trained appropriate service dogs.

The more fake or inappropriate service dogs present problems in public locations, this could potentially change the laws and regulations that allow people with legitimate needs for service dogs from being able to obtain or have service dogs.

Real Service