Still Considered a Service Dog? - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 14 (permalink) Old 06-08-2018, 12:45 PM Thread Starter
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Still Considered a Service Dog?

Quick question to those of you that know about and/or have service dogs:

Is a dog that only performs tasks in the home considered a service dog under the law? Or is it just a pet that has been trained to do helpful things?

My next puppy will be taught some service tasks for me. The main ones being retrieving emergency meds on command, barking on command (it's hard to explain how this is a task, just go with me on it), getting help for me if I am unable to breathe or pass out, and opening doors for me. However, I will not be bringing my puppy out in public places where dogs are not normally allowed. Therefore he does not need public access training in quite the same way. I know that any dog that has been trained tasks is considered a service dog, but what if he has not undergone public access training and years of other training at that? Still a SD? Should I call him a SD or just let it go?

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post #2 of 14 (permalink) Old 06-08-2018, 01:08 PM
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In my province specifically, a dog is considered a service animal based on 6 categories and their ability to perform in said category: A Guide Dog, a Hearing Dog, an Assist Dog, a SSiG (Social Signal) Dog, a Seizure Response Dog, and a Psychiatric Service Dog. If the dog is to be taken in public, then the handler must respect the following:

"Handlers must also ensure that service animals are properly controlled to avoid unnecessary disruptions, risks to safety or damage to property. Handlers may be asked to remove service animals that are not properly controlled. Handlers can be held responsible for injuries to people or property caused by a service animal."

None of these definitions of service dog indicate that the dog is required in public, but rather regulates how the dog behaves when in that space. Some disabilities are more adverse than others, but you cannot discount one disability because another is greater or more easily perceived. In my inexperienced and naive opinion, I do not believe a dog trained to assist in any of those areas is any less of a service dog if it is not always required when in public. However, if it is required to be in public, then the expectation to have exemplary training is much higher.
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post #3 of 14 (permalink) Old 06-08-2018, 02:18 PM
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Public access is a right... no one can force you to exercise that right if it doesn’t apply. You know?

I hesitate to say forego public access training completely or ignore certain temperament traits because yes, to call your dog a service dog implies some of this. If emergency medical personal had to gain access to your home and were bitten - this would tarnish the service dog reputation... if you had the need to stay in a hotel, where I imagine your dog may accompany you and your dog growls or cowers at staff or defecates and barks in the room - this would tarnish the service dog reputation.

So outside of those circumstances I ask... who of importance would need to know or benefit from knowing that your dog is a service dog? It seems like what your dog does for you in your home is your business.

That said, I work for and am partnered with another very large and internationally known service dog organization(s). There are two programs, for minors, in which a dog does not meet all of the requirements to graduate as a service dog but may be able to perform all or some of the tasks within the child’s home. Each “buddy program” has its own name that’s unique to the organizations, but for legal and liability reasons the dogs are referred to as “companions”.

Hope that helps.
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post #4 of 14 (permalink) Old 06-08-2018, 03:54 PM
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Originally Posted by Fodder View Post
Public access is a right... no one can force you to exercise that right if it doesn’t apply. You know?

I hesitate to say forego public access training completely or ignore certain temperament traits because yes, to call your dog a service dog implies some of this. If emergency medical personal had to gain access to your home and were bitten - this would tarnish the service dog reputation... if you had the need to stay in a hotel, where I imagine your dog may accompany you and your dog growls or cowers at staff or defecates and barks in the room - this would tarnish the service dog reputation.

So outside of those circumstances I ask... who of importance would need to know or benefit from knowing that your dog is a service dog? It seems like what your dog does for you in your home is your business.

That said, I work for and am partnered with another very large and internationally known service dog organization(s). There are two programs, for minors, in which a dog does not meet all of the requirements to graduate as a service dog but may be able to perform all or some of the tasks within the child’s home. Each “buddy program” has its own name that’s unique to the organizations, but for legal and liability reasons the dogs are referred to as “companions”.

Hope that helps.
Referring to the bolded: I would believe it's safe to say a SD designation would be important if the handler lived in an apartment that had breed restriction. Doesn't federal law protect against breed discrimination of service animals in such instances? I would wonder if the same were true about home owner insurance on this one as well? If the dog is not used outside the home I can still see how having a legitimate SD designation could be important.

I agree that a medical service dog(which is what this sounds like) needs to be adequately trained to allow emergency personnel into the home. The dogs job would be to help you, not prevent you from getting help if needed by defending the home or you from strangers.

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post #5 of 14 (permalink) Old 06-08-2018, 04:51 PM
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Originally Posted by Fodder View Post
Public access is a right... no one can force you to exercise that right if it doesn’t apply. You know?

I hesitate to say forego public access training completely or ignore certain temperament traits because yes, to call your dog a service dog implies some of this. If emergency medical personal had to gain access to your home and were bitten - this would tarnish the service dog reputation... if you had the need to stay in a hotel, where I imagine your dog may accompany you and your dog growls or cowers at staff or defecates and barks in the room - this would tarnish the service dog reputation.

So outside of those circumstances I ask... who of importance would need to know or benefit from knowing that your dog is a service dog? It seems like what your dog does for you in your home is your business.

That said, I work for and am partnered with another very large and internationally known service dog organization(s). There are two programs, for minors, in which a dog does not meet all of the requirements to graduate as a service dog but may be able to perform all or some of the tasks within the child’s home. Each “buddy program” has its own name that’s unique to the organizations, but for legal and liability reasons the dogs are referred to as “companions”.

Hope that helps.
That is exactly what came to mind. I think CCI calls them skilled companions ? I met one when I was at their facility. They stated that the dog just didn’t have the confidence to do full public access.
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post #6 of 14 (permalink) Old 06-08-2018, 05:05 PM Thread Starter
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Any dog in my home will be perfectly calm allowing people in to help me. That is actually a part of the "getting help" task, and I will do training and desensitizing for it. I would not feel comfortable calling my dog a service dog if he had any issues with people coming in to help me. I do understand the concern for that though. The dog must be stable in all conditions. I just wasn't planning on taking him to stores or places like that. Maybe non-dog friendly hotels, but that is also extremely unlikely. Why make life hard for myself and others when I am perfectly capable of finding a dog-friendly hotel in most cities?

It would be relevant if he were called a service dog for things like city breed restrictions, apartment complex breed restrictions, things like that. To be honest, I require an ESA and I would greatly benefit from a service dog. My family would be comfortable leaving me home alone if I had a dog that could help me. That said, I know an emotional support animal is enough to get past breed restrictions, but ESAs seem to have a worse name than service dogs for people passing them off when they don't really need them. Hopefully I will never be in a situation where I have to get a letter stating why I need my dog, but if it did come down to it, I think people would be more willing to work with me on a service dog over an emotional support dog.

Thoughts on this, @Thecowboysgirl?
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post #7 of 14 (permalink) Old 06-08-2018, 06:05 PM
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I didn’t mean to imply your dog would be aggressive, etc, those were just the first examples that came to mind. Depends on where you live.... in Ca, your dog need not be a service dog according to the fair housing act - esa and skilled companions would be exempt from breed restrictions, etc.

...and yes Kona, I believe “skilled companions” is the correct term.

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post #8 of 14 (permalink) Old 06-08-2018, 09:51 PM
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I'm not sure I understand why you wont use or need the dog in public? But you don't need to answer that if you prefer not to...

According to the ADA if you are disabled and the dog is task trained to mitigate your disability, it's a service dog. However, knowing the current state of affairs if I were you I would ask myself if I call it a service dog will the dog be a good representation of that term. the dog can do what it does for you no matter what you call it. If I thought there was any chance the dog might do anything "un-service-dog-like" (sorry I'm tired hopefully you catch my drift there) because it had not had all the extra extensive public manners training then I would not call it a service dog.

Because in the current state of affairs we really can't stand for a dog to be called a service dog and be a poor representative.

Dogs have to be trained somehow, and I am quick to ask permission AND let people know a dog is young and in training and if he makes a mistake I will deal with it or leave promptly if necessary....so they know I am responsibly training the dog.
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post #9 of 14 (permalink) Old 06-08-2018, 10:46 PM
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From what I understand about the ADA and have heard from handlers in the states, a service dog is a dog that is trained to perform tasks specifically to aid ones disability. and I think you need a doctors note/ recommendation that having a service dog would be beneficial to the individuals disability. I know some people who kind of retire or wash out a dog but not fully will call it a "at home service dog" which sounds like what yours will be.

Considering your dog will be trained tasks to specifically mitigate you disability, I would consider it a service dog, or "at home service dog"
BUT that being said it could be one of those things where an uneducated person hears it, trains their dog to do one "task" for them and then they call it a service dogs and possibly do public access and put a bad name to the service dog reputation, as well as if your dog does any unsavoury behaviour while being called a service dog so "skilled companion" or "at home service dog" might be your safest bet if you don't require his help during public access. basically, if his training and his behaviour is held to the same standard has a full blown, everyday, public access service dog then I wouldn't see an issue with calling him a at home service dog or service dog in certain situations
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post #10 of 14 (permalink) Old 08-03-2018, 01:57 PM
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In the U.S. there are many people who only use their SD at home. "In-Home SD" is not a legal term, but one of those that has developed mostly within the SD community. If a handler only uses the dog at home -- or maybe also the homes of friends and relatives -- it would still legally be a SD if it met the qualifications required by law.

* The handler can still use the costs of his SD as a medical deduction for IRS purposes.
* The handler while traveling may take his dog into non-friendly restaurants or hotels.
* The handler has a legal protection against breed bans in his area.
* The handler may not have a need for his dog while shopping etc. Perhaps it is easier to have a person assist them away from home.

Also to correct a statement made in a previous post -- a doctor's note is not required for a SD in the U.S.

A SD is only required to do one task/work to legally qualify.

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