Not long ago, I was in our local bakery when a woman walked in with her dog. It was a small breed dog. As soon as they walked through the door, the dog was pulling in all directions. Sniffing around, trying to snatch any little crumbs on the floor. Even jumping up on the display case. An employee walked over and asked the woman if it was a service dog (Side note, there is only one question a business can ask a person regarding service dogs: 1. Is this a service dog? While a person may carry some sort of certification of training it is not required.) The woman answered yes, but I noticed that after a few seconds she told her friend, who she was with, to go a ahead and order and she would wait outside.
Is it just me or has anyone else noticed an increase in “service dogs” out and about? I put the phrase service dogs in quotes because there is no way these dogs can be performing a service to their owners with the behavior they are exhibiting.
A service dog is a dog that is highly trained to perform tasks that an individual can’t do for themselves. Training can take up to 2 years. Think of a dog helping a blind person cross the street or alerting a deaf owner to the doorbell ringing or bracing someone when they have a seizure or picking up and retrieving things for someone with impaired mobility. Not only do service dogs need to be able to learn complex tasks, but they need to have a temperament that allows them to be able to stay focused in a public setting. Flash back to the dog in the bakery, pulling as hard as it possibly could to try and reach some morsel of food on the ground. If that was a service dog, it was the most poorly trained service dog I’ve ever seen.
You may be thinking, ok, but why does it matter? So people love their dogs and want to be able to bring them everywhere with them. What’s the harm? Well the harm is to the people who actually need service dogs and to the agencies that train them. The law is deliberately set up so there is no burden of proof on people with disabilities who benefit from service dogs, but if the law gets abused then maybe that could change. People who spend their time training these dogs can get a bad reputation and their efforts can be hurt when people pass off misbehaving dogs as service dogs.
So, love your dog. Train your dog so they can go with you to any businesses that allow them, but don’t try to pass them off as something that they are not. And if you want help with that training just contact us!
To learn more about service dogs vs support or therapy dogs check out this link:
To learn about the American Disabilities Act and a Minnesota bill that is being considered to fine those passing off pets as service dogs go here: