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How Your Service Dog Should Behave in Public

These days, service animals serve a variety of different purposes for individuals with disabilities. It can often be challenging to recognize a service dog versus a dog that does not have a specific job to do. According to the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations, there are two major reasons a business might decide to exclude or ask you to remove your service dog from the premises. One, if your service dog is out of control and you do not take effective action to control your dog; and two, if your service dog is not housebroken. To minimize the amount of questions surrounding the legitimacy of your service dog and to avoid running into businesses excluding your animal, it is helpful to note the expectations of how your service dog should behave in public. 

  • Service dogs must be assigned and trained to perform a specific task that will help ease or benefit the individual with that specific disability.
  • Service dogs are trained to remain focus on their handlers and their needs at all times. 
  • Service dogs are expected to exhibit a calm and even temperament.
  • Service dogs are obedient. 
  • Service dogs are trained to respond well to their handler’s commands, cues or directions.
  • Service dogs are able to ignore distractions such as people and other animals.
  • Service dogs do not tend to bark or whine unless it is to purposely gain the attention of their handler as part of their job responsibility. 
  • Service dogs are required to maintain a professional appearance and be well-groomed.
  • Service dogs are trained to walk properly on a leash without pulling and/or circling their handle unless pulling is a form of communication for that handler and service dog. 
  • Service dogs are trained to not excessively move around but to lay quietly under the table or beside their handler’s chair. 
  • Service dogs are expected to be housebroken and not to relieve themselves in undesignated areas. 

It is important for business owners and individuals with service dogs to know their rights to protect themselves. Not only is is a federal crime to pass an untrained pet as a service dog, but it hurts the community of individuals that really benefit from having one. Businesses should be mindful of the needs of individuals with disabilities requiring the aid of service dogs and handlers should be mindful of the needs of business owners and other patrons.