How to Register a Service Dog with Ease

how to register a service dog

Many people today have medical conditions that would benefit from having some kind of help and assistance on a day-to-day basis, and a highly-trained dog can provide that help with relative ease. If you have a service animal to assist you with any kind of physical or mental disability, you will definitely want to consider service dog registration. Under US Federal law (the American’s with Disabilities Act), you are legally entitled to bring your service canine with you everywhere you go, including into restaurants, cafes, apartments and onto airlines that ban dogs or charge a fee for pets. Registering a service dog in the United States is a very simple and easy process and, although it isn’t legally required to have and use a service animal, most assistance animal handlers choose to register and certify their dog with one of the reputable online companies that offer this service.


The Benefits of Having a Service Animal

You can legally take a service dog with you into all public places in the United States, and this includes into businesses and apartment buildings that don’t allow pets and onto airlines without having to pay any fees. By having a trained and registered service animal, you and your dog will be protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which is federal law and overrides any state or local laws. Under the ADA, all individuals suffering from a qualifying disability are entitled to a service animal, and are given free and complete access to all public spaces. Essentially this means that by registering your dog as a service animal, you can take your dog anywhere in public you go, onto any airline, into any hotel and into any kind of housing. Also, any breed or size of dog can become a service dog.

It isn’t legally required to register you dog in order to receive the benefits of protection from the ADA, but most service canine owners choose to register and certify their pet with one of the many online companies that specialize in this. They usually will also provide you with service dog ID, paperwork and a high-visibility vest and harness, which should eliminate any doubt about the status of your dog as a working animal while in public. Again, it isn’t legally required to carry and display any kind of service animal identification, or to prove that your dog has been trained, but by ensuring that your dog always wears a service dog vest and that you are carrying and displaying ID is the easiest and most convenient way to ensure that you gain the unrestricted access to all public places that you are entitled to under federal law. Most people will not stop to question the authenticity of a dog that is wearing a service animal vest and harness.


There Are Many Disabilities that Qualify an Individual for an Assistance Animal

How to get your dog certified as a service dog with easeService dogs assist people with a diverse number of medical conditions, including autism, blindness and visual impairment, deafness and hearing impairment, severe reactions to certain foods, seizures, severe depression, chronic anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder and many more. Many of the disorders that qualify someone for a service dog are emotional or psychological and not easily visible. Many people qualify for an assistance animal without being aware of it.

Service canines are trained to perform specific jobs to assist these individuals while in public and in their own homes. These animals are truly invaluable companions and every-present helpers to their handlers, provided physical and emotional support, and help many people regain independence in their day-to-day life.

While some of the most commonly seen service animals are medium-size and large breeds of dogs providing mobility assistance to wheelchair-confined handlers or acting as guide dogs for the blind, many other smaller breeds of dogs can become excellent assistance animals, providing medical alerts, hearing alerts and many other potentially life-saving services for their owners.


Training a Service Dog

Before deciding to make your dog a working service animal, you need ensure that your dog is fully trained to perform the various jobs and tasks that are required to assist you with your disability. You can choose to take your pet to an experienced assistance animal trainer or you can decide to do the instruction yourself. Training a service dog is a very long and time-consuming process, and usually takes between six months to two years to complete.

training a service dogAlthough legally there is no required amount or kind of training a dog has to undergo before he or she can become a service animal, the dog does need to be trained to perform specific jobs that assist with the life-altering medical condition of the handler. Common tasks that assistance animals perform include: providing mobility assistance and support to people in wheelchairs and with mobility challenges, guide dogs for blind or visually impaired handlers, providing cardiac and diabetes alerts, and much more.

There are no uniformed standards in the US and the industry is largely self-regulated by various independent companies and organizations, but you want to make sure that your dog has completed the minimum amount of training, which is 120 hours over a six month period, according to the guidelines set forth by the International Association of Assistance Dog Partners (IAADP).


How to Register and Get Your Dog Certified in the US

In the United States, learning how to register a service dog is very easy, and you can do so quickly through one of the many popular registry websites. These websites usually offer different packages for service, emotional support, and therapy dogs, and different prices accordingly. Registration kits generally start around only $80 and can rise upwards of $200, depending on what additional accessories you want to have. Optional accessories such as a service dog harness, a vest, ID and informational books can be purchased with your registration paperwork and service dog certificate, or can be bought separately.

At the end of the day, registering your dog as a service animal is easy overall. There are usually no lengthy applications to fill out, just a simple online questionnaire. Although registering a service dog isn’t required to have and use a service animal, it is recommended to provide easy identification for your working dog in public, avoiding unfair treatment and giving you unquestioned access to public spaces as required by law. By carrying ID cards and documentation with you at all times you can show employees at business and officials while traveling that your dog is a working service animal. Without ID and certification, you may encounter resistance or probing questions about the status and legitimacy of your dog.

There are many private companies offering service dog registration and certification for various prices, but some are not as reputable as others. It’s a good idea to look for third party reviews before deciding to make a purchase, and making sure that you get all the accessories you need to make your life with your canine helper as easy and stress-free as possible. Registration kits that include not only registry paperwork and a certificate, but photo ID for yourself and/or you dog, labeled leashes and collars, patches, and informational brochures are usually a cheaper option than having to buy each of these items individually.

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