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I've tried searching this out but can't seem to find a solid answers on my questions. If you can answers them, awesome, if you can point me in the right direction on where to find my answers...even better.

OK, so quick run down. I was medically retired from the Marine Corps in 2004. Recently some of my disabilities have impacted my life in a very negative way and I was approached with the idea of considering a service dog to assist me. Fast forward 8 months and my dog is at the "Service Dog in Training" stage. This week his paperwork is going go to be sent to the state (North Carolina) for his official paperwork as a "Service Dog in Training". In NC, from what I understand, an official "Service Dog in Training" receives the same right as an "Official Service Dog".

While I know I'm covered in North Carolina how would I know if I'm covered in another state? Is it like a drivers license where as long as you're registered in your resident state it is covered in other states? Is my best option just to look up the laws/regulations state by state?

I'm not one of those people that wants to be a jerk about enforcing my rights and I'd prefer to know where I can and can't go.

I hope these questions make sense.
 

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Service Dog...once I go into public what can I expect?

My dog's paperwork as a "Service Dog in Training" will be sent to the state this week and I'm nervous about our first solo trips into the public world. I have been with my training organization but it's usually several people and it's never been on our own except for places that people expect to see a dog.

I know that you get a lot of direct and indirect attention but I guess I'm hoping someone can tell me what to expect when this happens.

I don't want to be a jerk about enforcing my "rights", I'd rather things go smoothly.

Here are some examples of my questions but please feel free to add more things that I'm not asking about.

1. How often do you meet resistance as to where you can and can't go?

2. What types of etiquette should I consider that may not have been brought to my attention already?

3. Are there any situations that you ran into after you started public access that you would not have thought about prior to it happening?

I can't really think of anything else specific but I do know I've got a little anxiety over this.
 

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Laws on service dogs in training vary state to state.
 

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Laws on service dogs in training vary state to state.
Jackie is correct on this. Even if you have Public Access Rights in your state there are others where you will not. Another thing you must remember, in most states even in the owner/trainer can take their dog in none pet areas while "training" this does not always mean the owner can take the dog where they want and when they want. If State Statute says "while training" that is what it means. You can take the dog into a store to buy a loaf of bread - not for the reason to buy a loaf of bread and while doing so take the dog with you - but to use this as an training exercise (mostly proofing) where you are keeping a close eye on the dog to make sure it acts in the proper manner and does any trained tasks that is required of it. Each time the dog is taken somewhere, the type of location, the length of time, and what was the object of the training should be notated on the training log.

Example would be something like:
April 8 - Wal-Mart - 30 minutes - Late at night/few customers
Object: Review walking at side on loose leash while trainer pushes shopping cart.

Notes: Spot did not want to go through the automatic doors and needed encouragement. Recovered quickly once inside. Spot stayed at side while walking behind cart up and down aisles. Behaved nicely while cart returned at front of store. On leaving store, once again Spot needed encouragement to go through automatic doors.

Current Training Objective Met? Yes

Future Training Objective(s):
Needs practice of approaching and going through automatic doors.
Purchase simple item and go through check-out line.
 

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North Carolina

... (b) An animal in training to become a service animal may be taken into any of the places listed in G.S. 168?3 for the purpose of training when the animal is accompanied by a person who is training the service animal and the animal wears a collar and leash, harness, or cape that identifies the animal as a service animal in training. The trainer shall be liable for any damage caused by the animal while using a public conveyance or on the premises of a public facility or other place listed in G.S. 168?3. (1985, c. 514, s. 1; 1987, c. 401, s. 1; 1995, c. 276, s. 1; 1997?443, s. 11A.118(a); 2004?203, s. 62(a); 2005?450, s. 1.)

Chapter 168

Bolding is mine.

So as I stated in my previous post some states have this as part of their statutes on SDs. You may not take your dog with you while you are running errands, doing your shopping, etc. just to have his company or because you don't want to leave him at home. At each and every stop you must have a training purpose for the stop. At all times you must be paying more attention to the dog vrs. your surroundings or doing other tasks. You must be prepared to remove the dog ASAP from the location if the dog is not behaving properly.

During training it is reasonable to pick up a loaf of bread and go through line but it is not reasonable to do weekly shopping. It is reasonable to walk through a hardware store and pick up a weekly sales paper but not to look through paint samples for your interior walls or choose plants for your garden. Remember, your attention must be on the dog. Is he walking nicely, is he ignoring other customers or is he trying to get their attention, is he trying to pull to get closer to a rack display of dog toys, is he sniffing at bags of dog kibble? If he does something like one of the above he must be corrected in a timely manner. If he does something like barking at a customer he must be removed from the store at once.
 

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When I was raising Ranger for the Seeing Eye (in PA and NJ) I was told by the Seeing Eye that dogs in training did not have the same rights as graduated service dogs. I was instructed to ask for permission to take Ranger into any place. I was also told not to take him to places with food - grocery stores, restaurants etc.. Even with the name recognition of the Seeing Eye and a vest on the dog I still ran into several objections to taking him places. There was really no rhyme or reason. The Walmart near me was very accommodating while the Walmart in the next town refused to allow us admittance. I know that SEPTA (the regional mass transit in the Philadelphia area) has a policy of accommodating service dogs in training, but we still asked for permission when we brought 12 dogs on an outing.
 

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Fiona is a service dog in California. She has completed some of her training and is licensed by the state of California for pain management. While she was in training, I just had a vest or bandana on her and she went everywhere with me. We went to Texas and Washington, D.C.. I never had a problem, except at a Chinese restaurant where they insisted I had to sit outside. I refused and pulled out something that I had printed from the department of justice website. I educated them and they sat us inside. Others have asked if she has a tag. I say yes, and then we are on our way. I take and took her on my weekly shopping trips, because she needed to learn to pull a full cart, but not pull an empty one. I guess I had a training goal in mind I just combined errands. But Ca is a very liberal state, so most people are like whatever.


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Please remember that there is a big difference on the handler's Public Access Rights in regards to a Service Dog vrs. a Service Dog In Training.

A Service Dog handler has Public Access Rights by virtue of the Dept. of Justice. (Federal Agency - Federal Regulatory Law).

A Service Dog In Training handler only has Public Access Rights through any appropriate State Statute. To make use of this right, the handler must follow all requirements made by the particular state in which the dog is currently present including any ID, equipment, allowed places mentioned by statute, and any limitations as to organization and trainer/handler.
 

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Ilghaus, thank you for posting that. I think it is important that service dog trainers follow the appropriate rules in each state. I really think that the problems that I ran into with Ranger were due to people who abuse the rights of the service dog in training status.
 

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As noted, it depends on the state. Personally speaking I have raised for two different organizations and had dogs with me daily for years back when I was raising. I took them everywhere and never had a single problem except for a local steak and shake restaurant who did eventually allow us to stay. That was the only problem ever.

I really think it depends more on how you conduct yourself and how well behaved and presented the dog is.


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Rerun, i agree that it is how you handle yourself. I think if you just confidently walk right in you can get in almost anywhere. However the Seeing Eye required that I ask permission at each and every establishment. That always gave them the opportunity to say no. If I raise another Seeing Eye dog, which I would love to do, I am going to do a little less asking and more assuming it will be okay.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Well apparently I must have come off the wrong way and I guess after re-reading my original thread I can see how I did that.

I do understand that when I take my dog out in public as a "Service Dog In Training" it's for the purpose of training, not just to keep me company.

So, now that we have that out of the way, can anyone give me any advice on what to expect? Anything that I'm not thinking about or someone may not have told me about?
 

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Well apparently I must have come off the wrong way and I guess after re-reading my original thread I can see how I did that.

I do understand that when I take my dog out in public as a "Service Dog In Training" it's for the purpose of training, not just to keep me company.

So, now that we have that out of the way, can anyone give me any advice on what to expect? Anything that I'm not thinking about or someone may not have told me about?
1. Have you trained a dog before?
2. Have you trained a Service Dog before?
If you answered no to both these questions it would be fair to say you have no idea what you are doing and you should seek help from a professional. Aside from the law, your inexperience could put you in a liable situation you don't want to be in nor would any SD trainer or team want to see you involved in as it gives others that know what they are doing a bad name.


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I would call everywhere you go and ask to speak to a manager on the phone. In Indiana service dogs in training can go everywhere service dogs go when accompanied by a trainer, but it does not define trainer. So its open to interpretation about owner trainers. So when I was starting out, I called every place of business prior to my visit and asked if they would allow SDITs. Since your state law is a bit clearer than Indiana, you wouldn't have to ask permission so much as let a manager know that you are about to bring a SDIT into their store. This way when you get to the store if any employees cause problems, you can inform them you've already spoken to the manager and request they page the manager if there is a problem.

Expect a lot of people staring at you. Expect people to approach you, employees or other shoppers. Even if your dog is wearing a do not pet patch, expect to be asked if your dog can be pet. Even if your dog is a wearing a do not pet patch, expect people to reach out and pet your dog and act offended when you step between them and politely explain your dog is working and cannot be pet. Expect people to ask you questions (may be personal that you will not answer), compliment your dog, tell you about their dog, approach just to tell you that they know better than to disturb your dog but they had to tell you x and then probably stare/try to get eye contact/other distracting behavior, possibly follow you around the store. Expect kids to frequently run up and start petting your dog and then their parents look at you like you're a monster for politely stepping in front of your dog and explaining to the child that its a working dog and cannot be pet and/or completely ignore the fact their child just ran up to your dog. Expect to overhear discussions about you and your dog that are bizarre, rude, or just incorrect.

Sounds fun doesn't it? ;)
 

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Discussion Starter #15
1. Have you trained a dog before?
2. Have you trained a Service Dog before?
If you answered no to both these questions it would be fair to say you have no idea what you are doing and you should seek help from a professional. Aside from the law, your inexperience could put you in a liable situation you don't want to be in nor would any SD trainer or team want to see you involved in as it gives others that know what they are doing a bad name.
1. Yes
2. Have I trained a fully qualified Service Dog before..no. I've currently been working with an organization that meets 2 to 3 times per week for around 2 hours per session. Sometimes we meet more or they will do one on one training if there are issues that need more attention. The organization has to sign off on the paperwork for the state, I can't just do it on my own. My dog and I have been in the program since October 2010 except for when I needed to take a short break for six weeks. Before they sign off on this they have to observe us in public to make sure we're ready for that step.

But I appreciate your condescending remarks, insert sarcasm at any point.

You know what would be awesome, is if instead of you all putting as much effort as you have into trying to bash what I'm doing, assuming I have no idea what I'm doing, or getting worried about me giving a service dog a bad name....why not take a fraction of that effort and put it into helping me out and trying to answer the questions I'm asking.

In an attempt to give you a warm fuzzy let me explain a few things:


  • Hi training started with an 8 week obeidience course that was one on one and led to his AKC Good Citizens certification
  • After that together we have had over 130 documented hours of formal training since we started the program
  • Outside of the formal training we have documented over 260 hours of training with just him and I. This training is anything from what we worked on in the class or areas we're having problems in.
  • I would never want him to start unsupervised public access training unless I was 100% sure he was ready. He has done public access training but one of our trainers has already been there.
You know, I hate even feeling like I have to "justify" this but hopefully this will help ease some minds.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
I would call everywhere you go and ask to speak to a manager on the phone. In Indiana service dogs in training can go everywhere service dogs go when accompanied by a trainer, but it does not define trainer. So its open to interpretation about owner trainers. So when I was starting out, I called every place of business prior to my visit and asked if they would allow SDITs. Since your state law is a bit clearer than Indiana, you wouldn't have to ask permission so much as let a manager know that you are about to bring a SDIT into their store. This way when you get to the store if any employees cause problems, you can inform them you've already spoken to the manager and request they page the manager if there is a problem.

Expect a lot of people staring at you. Expect people to approach you, employees or other shoppers. Even if your dog is wearing a do not pet patch, expect to be asked if your dog can be pet. Even if your dog is a wearing a do not pet patch, expect people to reach out and pet your dog and act offended when you step between them and politely explain your dog is working and cannot be pet. Expect people to ask you questions (may be personal that you will not answer), compliment your dog, tell you about their dog, approach just to tell you that they know better than to disturb your dog but they had to tell you x and then probably stare/try to get eye contact/other distracting behavior, possibly follow you around the store. Expect kids to frequently run up and start petting your dog and then their parents look at you like you're a monster for politely stepping in front of your dog and explaining to the child that its a working dog and cannot be pet and/or completely ignore the fact their child just ran up to your dog. Expect to overhear discussions about you and your dog that are bizarre, rude, or just incorrect.

Sounds fun doesn't it? ;)
First off, thank you. This is the exact type of thing that I was wanted to know. I have PTSD and one of my biggest issues is in social situations so one of my biggest hang ups about this entire thing is that I know people are going to be staring at me and my dog. Although, I will say it has gotten easier every time we've gone out in public so far, the hard part will be the solo flight..lol.

Thank you again though, this is exactly what I was wondering.
 

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My dog and I have been in the program since October 2010 except for when I needed to take a short break for six weeks. Before they sign off on this they have to observe us in public to make sure we're ready for that step.

I would never want him to start unsupervised public access training unless I was 100% sure he was ready. He has done public access training but one of our trainers has already been there.

You know, I hate even feeling like I have to "justify" this but hopefully this will help ease some minds.
Honestly, this does not make me "Warm and fuzzy" about your situation, it actually throws up more red flags.

1. If you are in fact working with a reputable organization, why do you feel asking questions on here is more useful and helpful than the guidance you would get from the organization you work with?

2. With your training experience, how was/is your dog being evaluated? What standards are being used to determine readiness of your dog to be trained in public without supervision of a professional trainer?

If you want help, the best advice I can give you is to seek more help from that org you are working with (curious why that is not your course of action instead of posting on here) or a professional in your area, They are the only ones that can truly asses your situation accurately as they can physically see you and your dog in action, on here, we cannot.



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Honestly, this does not make me "Warm and fuzzy" about your situation, it actually throws up more red flags.

1. If you are in fact working with a reputable organization, why do you feel asking questions on here is more useful and helpful than the guidance you would get from the organization you work with?

2. With your training experience, how was/is your dog being evaluated? What standards are being used to determine readiness of your dog to be trained in public without supervision of a professional trainer?

If you want help, the best advice I can give you is to seek more help from that org you are working with (curious why that is not your course of action instead of posting on here) or a professional in your area, They are the only ones that can truly asses your situation accurately as they can physically see you and your dog in action, on here, we cannot.



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Look at his original questions. It was for people who have service dogs and what it is like for them. That is not something you can go to the organization for or even a trainer. SFGSSD is in the business of certifying service dog schools, so it may feel like it needs to protect its territory and actually gives you a good idea of how you can expect people to react. Some people I know express surprise that I have a service dog. I am not blind or in a wheelchair, so I don't need one. You NEVER have to explain yourself to anyone nor justify yourself.

Your service dog is a service dog in all 50 states. The ADA does not require it to be certified or anything else. State laws can vary, but not conflict with the ADA.

If your dog is well-behaved, then no one has the right to question you other than to ask is the dog necessary because of a disability? What does he do for you? You can be as vague as necessary. I say medical alert dog. She is part of my pain management regiment, but she does alert to my pain.

I personally will confront a person trying to pass off their pet as a service dog. I base it on the dog's poor behavior. I was in wal-mart with Fiona and I heard barking. I looked down at Fiona. It was not her, a dog with a woman in the wheelchair was barking at Fiona. Fiona just looked at the barking dog and yawned. Don't they know to chill? She thought.

A great book to read is After Tuesday. It is about a soldier with PTSD and how his dog helped him and some of the problems he faced, like trying to ride the bus.


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I have PTSD as well, and social anxiety. Thats been one of the hardest hurdles for me with having a service dog. It does get easier though, like you said you've noticed. What works for me is to completely tune everyone else out. I just concentrate on what I'm doing and ignore everyone so I don't notice when people are staring. Of course when approached or asked questions you can't avoid it. I kind of launch into my educating spiels in those sort of situations.

I'm a member of the Assistance Dog Adocacy Project and mostly work in education. So thats my "safe zone" so to speak, to stick to my logical mind and what I know and use it to blast past the anxiety. I tend to educate myself as a method to handle anxiety, I get a lot of anxiety related to the unknown, so I'll over prepare to deal with the anticipatory anxiety. So starting out public access training with Tessa I made sure I knew service dog law backwards and forwards, also contacted a bunch of people on this forum with owner trained service dogs to ask questions, and had the local SD organization that was supporting me evaluate Tessa. Then I called every business for a while at first, which was a bit hard itself because I also get phone anxiety. But it helped me be more confident once I was walking in to the store.

I like to print out the law to reference it directly, and offer people to keep the copies to help further the education. So I highly recommend that as well.
 

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When I go to a doctor I bring home the info that he or she has given me and use that as a base. I trust my doctors but I want to be an informed part of my care team.

I have friends and family educated and with work experience in prescription drugs so I use them as a base of additional info on a new prescription. Doesn't mean that I don't trust any of my doctors just why not use this additional source of info that is available to me.

When I take one of my dogs to the vet I bring home the info that he or she has given me and use that as a base. I trust my dogs' vets but I want to be an informed part of my dogs' care team.

I have friends and family educated and with work experience in the vet. care field so I use them as a base of additional info on new prescriptions and treatments. I myself have taken classes and attended workshops on dog first aid, emergency care, and basic vet tech care. I have volunteered at a vet's office and shelters to gain additional hands on practice in dealing with dogs.

If I have a question on a serious problem with one of my dogs I find out who has the reputation of being one of the tops in the field and contact them for additional knowledge.

There is nothing wrong with going to various sources and discussing a topic to get a different view. That is one major reason to come to a site like this. There are people with experience on almost every detail that can come up concerning a German Shepherd. If I need information I look here and with other GSD sources that I have. I look at sources that have general dog information. From there I also do Internet searches for new information. With that I am better informed to go back to the vet and ask better informed questions and maybe even in a better position to share some information that I have run across.

The same goes with training, information on laws, or even just wanting to speak with your peers on personal experiences. Gone are the days when someone blindly follows the directives of their doctor, their minister, their lawyer, or their instructor. There are so many resources out there now that were previously not available that it is in anyone's best interest to seek some of those out.

When I give a class on SD law I always give the source of the law and encourage that everyone go to the law and read it. I not only make sure they have my contact info to come back to as a source for further discussion but also our State Attorney's Office and the Regulatory Agency over that law.

So ask your questions of the training organization that you are working with but please continue asking questions with other sources. The training and handling of a SD is too important to your life to limit your knowledge base. I myself would see a red flag from any trainer or any organization that would try to be the only source of information to its clients. They should be glad that their client wants to be an informed team member working toward a goal and not just a blind dependent follower.
 
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