Service Dogs are the constant companions, loyal to their owners, and offering invaluable assistance to those with physical and mental challenges.
Unfortunately, society is still overloaded with wrong impressions about services dogs and their significance. In this article, we will address some of the common misconceptions and put them right.
Service dogs and Emotional support dogs are the same
No, a service animal is individually trained to perform specific tasks that assist disabled people. On the other hand, emotional support dogs are not trained, and they only offer emotional comfort to the handler. Providing emotional care is not categorized as a task for a service dog.
Service dogs need to be certified
In the US, at the moment, there is no identification or registration process
that certifies a dog as a service animal. The websites claiming to offer such certifications are not legitimate. Service animals also need not be professionally trained.
Service dogs are only for visually or hearing-impaired individuals
This was the scenario a while ago. But since then, trainers have discovered that service dogs have the capabilities to assist people with other challenges as well. Today, service animals can offer support to those with autism, mental illnesses, seizures, diabetes, and several other conditions.
Not every breed can be a service dog
You might be able to get a service dog
from any breed, shape, or size. If the dog is healthy, has a steady temperament, and could be trained to assist you, there is nothing stopping you from making the dog your service animal.
Service dogs have to work all the time
This claim is far from reality. The service animals will be with their handlers all the time as their pet. The only difference is that they now have a purpose. Most of the service dogs receive the utmost care from their handlers as well.
You can pet a service dog when the handler is not looking
Being a “drive-by petter” is not exactly the polite thing to do. This is highly disrespectful as you would be distracting the dog. The handler might be completely reliant on the dog, and the animal needs to stay focused.
Service dogs can identify people carrying drugs
Service dogs might be able to smell the drugs, but they are trained to respond to different things. Even if they can detect drugs, it is not their concern to react. Their focus is only on the handler.
Service dogs can be trained in a few months
A service dog is trained throughout their time with the handler. They are learning new habits, things, and quickly adapt to the individual’s needs. That said, it might take a couple of years for the dog to be completely trained on many aspects.
Businesses can ask for service dog certification
As we covered earlier, it is a misconception that service dogs have to be certified. As such, there is no means of showing any proof to the businesses. Additionally, as per the Americans with Disabilities Act
, the staff can only ask two questions to the individual.
- Is the animal there due to disability?
- What tasks is the dog trained to perform?
Beyond this, they cannot enquire about the specified disability or any documentation.
Businesses cannot ask individuals with service dogs to leave
Businesses are entitled to request any customer to leave if the dog is not behaving properly, being aggressive, or is not housetrained.
The best you can do for service animals and their handlers is to leave them alone. They are only trying to go about their business and would like to do so without any interruptions or distractions.