Animal Health Foundation Blog

10 Signs That a “Service Dog” is Actually a Fake


You’re out shopping when you turn the corner to find a cute dog browsing the merchandise. Your first instinct tells you it’s someone’s service dog, but then something doesn’t seem right. People posing their pets as fake service dogs has become a widespread problem. Real service dogs can be any breed, their owners don’t always have visible disabilities, and they’re not required to carry any kind of identifying paperwork or distinguishing badge. This makes spotting the fakes exceptionally difficult, but if the dog is showing any of these behaviors, it’s most likely an impostor.

#1 – They’re Being Carried or Pushed in a Cart


Service dogs are trained in countless different kinds of jobs, but no matter what their specialty is, they always need to be alert and ready to work. If the dog is being toted around in a purse or getting a free ride in a shopping cart, they’re unable to perform their duty. There are exceptions, however, if a small dog is being held close to person’s chest. Some small dogs are trained to monitor certain bodily functions and need to be kept close to their owners.

#2 – They’re Not on a Leash

It seems ironic, but you’ll never see a highly trained service dog out in public and not on a leash. They’re more than capable of staying by their owner, but leashes are used to protect the dog. Always using a leash is a basic part of being a responsible dog owner.

#3 – They’re Pulling on the Leash

Because they’re always leashed while they’re working, service dogs have impeccable leash manners. They never pull and always stick close to their owner’s side. Dogs used for mobility and support assistance may lean into their harnesses as part of their job, but they don’t yank their person in different directions as they feel like it.

#4 – They’re Barking or Whining

Some dogs are trained to bark or whine as an alert to warn their owner of an impending medical emergency, like a stroke or panic attack. But besides these infrequent sounds, a service dog would never bark at another dog or whine out of impatience.

# 5 – They’re Sniffing Everything

All dogs rely on smell more than any other sense, and taking your pet on a walk usually involves a whole lot of sniffing. When a dog has a job to do, those scents are a distraction. Service dogs are trained to stay focused, and they won’t be careening down aisles sniffing everything on the lower shelves.

#6 – They Have Indoor “Accidents”

A dog that isn’t fully house trained should never be taken into an indoor public area. For male dogs especially, indoor accidents are not always accidental, and instead, it’s the dog’s way of marking a new territory. Whether they did it on purpose or not, urinating or defecating indoors is an unacceptable behavior for service dogs.

#7 – They Steal Food

Stealing food—whether it’s off a table, out of someone’s hand, or something they found on the ground—is a hard habit for pets to break, but resisting temptations is one of the first lessons a service dog learns.

#8 – They Look Nervous

Socialization is a major part of service dog training, and if the dog in question is the real deal, they’ll seem calm and confident no matter what’s going on around them. They won’t be spooked by loud noises or big crowds, and they won’t cower or tuck their tails between their legs.

#9 – They Seek Attention

Service dogs know they have a job to do, and they only have eyes for the person on the other end of their leash. They don’t put their noses into other people’s space seeking head pats or belly rubs.

# 10 – They’re Aggressive

Some service dogs are trained in protection, but that doesn’t mean they lash out at other people or animals without being explicitly told to. A dog that is growling, lunging, or showing other signs of unprovoked aggression is not a real service dog.

Fake service dogs put unfair scrutiny on the people who actually need their animals for medical or emotional purposes, and they’re an insult to the dogs that go through months of intense training to be good at their jobs. The service dog reputation is at stake, and it’s because some pet owners think “no pet” policies shouldn’t apply to them. If you decide to approach someone about their dog, remember to do so politely and realize they have no legal obligation to answer a long list of questions.

127 Responses to “10 Signs That a “Service Dog” is Actually a Fake”

  1. Veteran Traveler says:

    The only one that isn’t correct by ADA law is your number two. Dogs can be off leash if the owners disability requires it or it being on a leash would interfere with the dog performing its task. This area of the ADA is vague, but still applies in some cases. Again, you are absolutely right: the behavior of the dog will tell you whether or not it is a legitimate and trained service dog. If the service tech was off leash, it would clearly be attending only to the handler and under absolute control

    • Melissa Garrett says:

      Number 1 is not correct. Diabetic alert service dogs are typically small dogs that are carried. They need to be close to their handlers face to detect changes in saliva.
      Also the person who stated handler trained dogs are fakes in very uniformed.

      • Garrett Broadwater says:


      • Sandyjeanie says:

        I have a few things to say. First, my diabetic alert dog is a small min-pin who I carry everywhere. Second, my dog is working when she is in my arms. When she is down on the leash..she pulls and smells everything because she is not working when down. Third, my dog alerts me with loud barks & whines. Fourth, my dog is getting old and has kidney, she could have a urinary accident..though chances are..she won’t. Fifth, my dog would never steal food from a table. But, when she is on the ground and not working..she might eat something off the ground. Sixth, my alert dog is a min-pin and she like most other dogs of her breed..always looks nervous. Sixth, my dog does not seek attention but..she will respond to positive attention from people when she is on the ground and thus not working. Lastly, my dog is never aggressive towards people or other animals. But, no guarantee on how she will react to another dog lunging at her. So please..DO NOT USE THIS STATED CRITERIA FOR SPOTTING A FAKE SERVICE DOG!! If you do, I won’t be allowed anywhere anymore with my real service dog.

        • Ed says:

          It is strange to see people carry small dogs by their chest but a dogs sense of smell is 8 times more than a human
          These dogs can smell your change of chemistry before you have your episode or what it might be. So they need to be on the ground and trained as that. You also need to have a bracelet or a tag on a chain around your neck at all times so if you do pass out people will notice your a diabetic and render some type of assistance. Those small dogs will not administer or retrieve your meds; That is how I train a service dog for Seizures, Diabetics and Phyc dogs.

        • Dixies owner says:

          Still your service dog should never be nervous in public if it is dont take it places and this will be recognised as a fake if you dont work on these things

      • Li says:

        Did you not read the article? That’s what they said!

    • Amateur Ethicist says:

      This is not entirely true. The service dog may only be off leash while it’s scouting an area the dog’s PTSD companion requires the dog to go. After the dog has scouted, it must go back on leash. The dog may not be continuously off leash. So if the companion is siting at a restaurant, the dog may not remain off leash.

    • Dixies owner says:

      Exalty number 1 and 2 are incorrect number one shoudl not be done they should not be in the cart but can be carried if needed to im trying to train my gsd off leash so when she alerts me or helps me walk a big long leash will not trip me or get I the way of her walking

  2. Val Oneill says:

    They need to make Service Dog Certifications available like you would a handicap licence, plate, tag thru the Department of Moter Vehicle.If you don’t have a legitimate tag thru the DMV then you would be fined just like if you utilized a handicap space without a legal tag. You would then have to make it legal for business owners to request a handicapped person for their Service Animal License or Service Animal Certification,but I’m sure after all the nuances & safety issues currently going on any person with a service animal would greatly welcome being able to produce paper work to the public showing that they need assistance from their precious pooch & that their rights are protected & backed by the law. Nip this issue in the bud!

    • SD Handler says:

      Service dog licensing would be a violation of the civil rights of disabled service dog handlers. Nondisabled people enter public accommodations without paperwork. Disabled service dog handlers have the same right. Service dogs are medical equipment under the law, and no one needs a license for a cane or wheelchair.

      I am a service dog handler. I would not welcome licensing. My rights are already protected and backed by federal law and many state laws.

      Enforce existing laws. Problem solved.

      • Liam Kroos says:

        Preach it.

      • B. Scott says:

        I would like to know how we are supposed to tell the difference between real and fake service dogs. I am disabled and have no problem displaying my parking placard. I understand the ADA says you don’t need any corroborating evidence, but it really irritates me that some people are using the ADA guidelines to screw the system and, put others in danger with inappropriately trained pets for their own selfish wants.

      • Greg says:

        I highly disagree with you. My dog is distracted, and so am I when another fake service dog comes lunging at us. My lastdog was wounded so bad by a fake service dog that I had to retire her after only 2 years of service. $30,000 down the drain for the nonprofit. The dog could be federally licensed and required to wear the number on their vest. A law would keep other service dog safe and better serving their owners.

        • Michael says:

          Government handling registration or certification of service dogs – let that sink in for a moment – they can not even manage the post office. Think if they required the blind person to get registered as well and wear a number? To many violations to civil liberties. I would agree that I too wish there was an answer to preventing fake service dogs from having a vest that claims it, We raise/train Guide Dogs for a nationally recognized org, and see the vests that people bough on line and the problems those dogs bring. How the government could regulate the industry without totally screwing it up (they would) beats me. And how would the govt know what was a legit service dog and what was not??

      • James says:

        Nobody needs a liscense for a wheelchair or a cane because nobody is bringing a dining chair into the store proclaiming its a wheelchair.

      • greg says:

        “Nondisabled people enter public accommodations without paperwork.”


        Cry all you want, but blame all the fakes for ruining your “rights”. If you are legit then it is an easy thing to get. If you argue it, you’re probably fake.

        Oh, by the way, most states are now passing new laws, so grab your dogs and go protest.

        • Hayes says:

          Umm legit animal handlers are the only people that most likely actually read the laws and I wouldn’t like and ID saying what my dog is for because that is a violation of my privacy.
          I’d rather dye because I walk in front of a car without realizing it during a panic episode.

        • Linda Garrett says:

          I’ve been disabled since 1992 and with a simple form signed by my doctor I’ve been able to go places because I am able to walk the short distance from my car. Without my handicap placard I would be unable to shop and enjoy many things that everyone else can. Recently I have become in need of a service dog without whom I would be housebound. I am very much in favor of something similar for my service dog such as a form my doctor signs and I receive a badge for her jacket that proves she is the real thing. It would be most helpful with airlines among other establishments. Many people are training their own service dogs like I did three years ago and it is continual training because she must never forget how to behave while working as opposed to being at home with me. This is because the cost and extensive waiting list is prohibitive to the many people who need one and a well trained one at that. So the government doesn’t have to be anymore involved than they are in a handicap placard/plates. A simple form and doctor’s signature provides the proof and the dog is the disabled person’s responsibility.

          • Barbara says:

            Many doctors give out forms like the Easter Bunny gives out candy. If you tell your doctor you need an emotional support dog (or cat) they will give you a form. Many people feel as though their companion animal (or emotional support animal, EMS) is a service animal. They are not. They are not trained for any service. Some people get the form so they don’t have to pay the pet deposit on an apartment, some get it because their apartment complex doesn’t allow pets (if you have that form the management can’t enforce the no pet policy because of discrimination) and yet others get it because they want to take Fluffy everywhere they go and it attracts attention, which they love. I’ve worked in the service dog/working dog industry for over 50 years and since the internet anyone can get a “certification kit” complete with badge that looks like a federal ID and pass their dogs off as service dogs. They think it’s cute, but I assure you it isn’t cute to those who depend on their service animals for their daily tasks. These fakes have severely hurt service animals, to the point where some businesses and airlines will not allow them access, regardless of the ADA guidelines, law and regulations.

        • derek kuehner says:

          well, as to most states are now passing new laws, so grab your dogs and go protest. The ADA trumps all state laws in that regard. And I also believe that mostly the people that train or need the service animal are the ones who follow up on the laws. As we have to stay up to date on our rights, lest they be stepped on by people who only think they know the laws.

          I have gone as far as to keep a copy of the most current ADA laws with me and my service dog. I also look at the state laws when I travel. Many states have laws that are less restrictive, and usually state that Federal ADA laws trump local and state laws.

          So while saying that registration is the answer, at this current time, it is a violation of my rights. After all, people needs a drivers liscense to drive, yet, people are pulled over every day, that have do not have one, are suspended, or revoked. Yet, they still do it any way,

          Just some food for thought.

        • Shelby says:

          We don’t want to be carded everywhere we go. We are clearly having a hard enough time functioning we have to rely on our service dogs to get around. Let’s just make it that much harder. Fakes are ruining our access because we wouldn’t have to have the question “is it real or fake?” Also, fake dogs do attack legitimate service dogs. I want to say this if you guys HAVE NO CLUE what it’s like to have a service dog you shouldn’t have any input. Have some compassion do you forget that people who need service animals are disabled? They may have multiple chronic illnesses, hearing and sight impairments, or a need help with mobility. The public wants to make it harder on the disabled person rather than enforcing the laws that protect us. Lastly, I wouldn’t want an ID saying what my dog is trained for because would you like it if you had to show proof that you have a disability? No probably not.

      • Ric Sing says:

        Just came from a restaurant where a “service dog” was running around seeking people to pet it. The owner even fed it while it was supposedly on duty. The only thing this dog paid attention to was the bowl of food and the people petting it. The owner claimed it was a “service dog” to the restaurant. The restaurant in California wasn’t going to take on the liability of taking on the lying dog owner.
        This sort of thing makes real service dogs and their owners look bad.
        A visible certification would only be a good thing.
        As the only dogs allowed in restaurants are real service dogs, their users are already marked anyway. A visible certification would just be good for everyone, and like stated above is no worse than a handicap sign for a car.

        • Ric Sing – You have identified the problem. Clearly that was NOT a service dog and that person was doing a huge disservice to the community of people who really NEED service dogs. There should be a state or national certification program to reduce abuse.

          • Jennifer says:

            Cleary everyone this day and age feel more entitled to things they truly dont deserve…they VERY WELL could have been a service animal.. know the Whole story instead of taking on side… what has this world came too.. ppl are so worried about what others do.. or have

            Instead of focusing on their own life and issues… instead of whining … I’m appalled that grown ups and children today lack empathy and consideration of others before judging and making comments and insults to ppl u personally do not know nor give a fuck about.. try understanding what that other person is dealing with.. the world Does Not revolve around those that constantly look for reasons to complain or judge the less fortunate… shame on yall

        • gif says:

          Any animal, service animal or not, can be asked to leave if it’s causing problems.

        • Maggie says:

          I had the same situation last night at a restaurant and we live in Valencia, CA. I have no objection to a service dog if they are the real ones that are trained and they are not sitting on a person’s lap level with a table and eating off the table! I cannot think of another time that I saw a “Service Dog” that it didn’t have a yellow vest with the bold lettering of “Service Dog” on it! My husband and I got up before ordering and left the resturant. The Manager, should have asked the person with the dog to have it below the table and not allow it to eat at the table. If I owned a Restaurant, that is what I would do besides having a sign that clearly states Only Service Dogs allowed and please be ready to produce identification. It is only common sense and it is only fair to the other Patrons. And I am a huge animal lover but there are laws for a reason, there are health codes for a reason. Are you going to please everyone on the planet? No! But at least the other 100 Patrons can eat their meals in peace and enjoy what is proper not have to put up with people who are trying to get away with things because they think they are special or cute and not legitimately Disabled People with a legimate Service Dog!

      • Andrea Hoxie says:

        While no one needs a license for a cane or a wheelchair, many times one may need a prescription for the wheelchair or other durable medical equipment, and no one can get an “accessible” placard or license plates for one’s vehicle with a licensed medical professional.

      • Alison W says:

        How do we enforce current laws when people are posing their pets as service animals. There are uninformed and vulnerable people everywhere being scammed into paying money for these fake ID’s.

      • Randy says:

        I could make the same argument in the opposite direction. Everyone in this public either drove here or were driven here and the vehicle and driver both required registration and insurance. One person has a vision restriction on their license and another person does not. Safety right. Same as the argument for the dog . Honestly, I’m not sure how I feel about the subject but I do know a null argument when I hear one.

      • Dana K says:

        Unfortunately licensing is usually just a state, town or govt way of extracting money from people. However, if Service dog trainers were required to be listed in database of validated organizations and had to provide a certificate of service training completion, either paper or as a dog tag, wouldn’t that be sufficient? I don’t know how that would violate anyone’s rights? I am currently dealing with a situation where the dog was adopted by someone who claimed to have service dog training lined up for him thru the Army. After he adopted the dog he outfitted him with a collar and leash that said Service Dog on them and proceeded to take this dog into the bars with him. I had helped facilitate the transfer of the dog from a rescue in Tx to the guy in MA. One year after adopting him, the guy dumped the dog back on me. 2 days later I found out that the dog had a quarantine order on him for biting the guys aunt in his house. Soooo fake service dog identification puts the animal and people in serious danger. The dog is now seeing an animal behaviorist to recover his confidence and deal with his aggression, It should be illegal to label an untrained dog as a service dog but you have to have at least a system for certification of training proof in order to catch the uncertified ones.

    • christine says:

      how can a person go abour getting tje laws changed?

    • Jennifer says:

      That’s redundant… just costing ppl more money and some are on disability and can’t just fork over money for nonsense like that….

      • Cale says:

        Is that a joke? A service dog costs thousands to train. What’s another $5 in registration costs?

        A certificate from the trainer and a doctor’s diagnosis puts responsibility on three individuals trying to pass off an illagitimate service dog.

        Why are people defending the fakes?

        • Brucewh says:

          There is no requirement under the ADA for a service dog to be trained by a professional service dog trainer. There is no training certification for a service dog, either. The owner of a service dog may be the dog’s sole trainer. There are no requirements or qualification standards that a trainer must meet.

          It would be an obvious infringement on the rights of disabled persons if one could only have a service animal if one can come up with thousands of dollars first.

    • SAM RONEY says:

      This is a moot topic, not only because it violates the civil rights of disabled persons to provide proof, but also because ALL of the “for instances” you guys are bringing up are covered in the ADA. A dog who is presented as a service dog may be legally denied access if it engages other animals or people without provocation, if it barks without provocation and not in fulfillment of it’s duty(eg: warning its handler of an impending medical situation or responding to threats to itself or its handler, etc) The ADA and similar laws already have these built in checks against telltale characteristics of fake service dogs. No licensing is needed- only education as to what the law says the rules for “pulic access” are. Educate yourself before you preach. If an animal doesn’t break any of the behavior or “under control of handler” caveats of the ADA, It really doesn’t matter if you suspect it to be fake and it isn’t infringing on anyone. My real service dog is, by its nature of being a dog instead of human, incapable of being insulted by the idea of fake service dogs. He really couldn’t care less as long as they are following the behavior rules under the ADA. Also, most states have their own laws which compliment the ADA by making it a criminal offence by an owner if he or his dog interfers with or harrases a service dog. In GA, in fact, an owner can be charged with aggravated assault if either he OR his animal physically attacks a service dog. READ, PEOPLE ! Its all in the law.

    • Diane says:

      Only thing is, they can make fakes of those just like they do everything else… At some point its just got to be integrity. Sad i have been working with my dog for 2 years and looking for a real program to help me put her through because i dont want to be a fake. Most people say she acts better then any they have ever seen. I still dont take her into stores etc… i am 100% disabled and in need but fearful of all the fakes that shoul’nt be there. My girl will help me stand up… she could be dressed to carry my emergency medication… And she senses when something isnt right with me. I mean what more could i ask of her… and yet I dont take her out because i dont know where or how to find a place to train her to be real!!! But lets take fido out for a stroll…

      • kathleen says:

        The training of service animals is, thankfully, becoming more reasonable/accessible. It can also be done by the handler/owner (assuming their disabilities make it possible) and, frankly, if you have a canine that is already impressing other(s) with their obedience and manners, then you’re more than half the way to having your service animal trained (presumably by YOU unless the dog came to you that way which is certainly possible)! Google some tools, there are videos, books (that can be listened to) and there are more and more training programs that are helping handlers train their own dogs! DON’T GIVE UP. It is a lot of work and I absolutely understand the fear/concern about taking your dog out into public but that IS part of the training process of every service animal. Perhaps you could get a student aid from a local high school or college (or an eagle scout) looking for a REAL “service,” project that can assist you with the training logistics. When I take mine out into public as part of her training, the absolute WORST part of it is not other animals as the so-called fakes (who am I to decide that if the animal is well behaved vs. being toted around in a shopping cart with a blanket and a cuddly toy next to it, right 🙁 The worst part are the adults that want to pet her, that try to call her to them by whistling at her, the screams of glee (yeah, I get that she is a gorgeous specimen) when she is dressed to the GILLS in gear that could only be for a service animal or enough to put someone on notice. The PUBLIC needs to be more educated vs. putting notes on the windshields of someone using a valid placard because they cannot SEE what is wrong with us or when they SEE us that day, we happen to be having a blessed/good day vs the one the day before where we could hardly crawl out of bed to use the bathroom without our service animals assistance!

  3. Freeda says:

    1. Dogs shouldn’t be in carts. Many are carried for tasking purposes.

    2. The law requires that the dog be “under the owner’s control”, which may or may not include leashing. Sometimes a leash interferes with tasking or mobility.

    3. These are leash manners issues, not legal requirements.

    4. These are manners issues, not legal requirements except that a dog may not be a nuisance while doing public access work.

    5. Manners issue, not a legal requirement.

    6. Hey, you got one right. A service dog can be removed from public access if they defecate or urinate in an inappropriate area.

    7. Again, a manners issue, not a legal requirement except for not feeding the dog from a restaurant table.

    8. Service dogs are constantly being exposed to new challenges. Sometimes you don’t know it will be a challenge until you are in it. You are never NOT training. They’re dogs, not robots, and sometimes something new will throw them off.

    9. Some dogs, particularly for autism, have tasking that includes interacting with other people in order to facilitate their handler’s interactions with those people. If you don’t know a dog’s tasking, you can’t assume that what you are observing isn’t task behavior.

    10. It is ILLEGAL for a service dog to be trained in protection work.

    It isn’t the public’s job to appoint themselves “service dog police”. No one except a “gatekeeper” for a business should be asking questions about the service animal, and they should only ask the two questions that are allowed by law. In fact, if the dog is clearly marked as a service animal, and with the tasking “ie Service Dog, Medical Alert” patch, there is no need to speak to the person at all. Many handlers suffer from conditions that make those interactions difficult – which is why their dogs are appropriately labeled.

    While your idea of the perfect service dog is a pretty picture, the reality is that the law only requires that
    1. the person has a disability
    2. the dog is trained in task(s) that mitigate that disability
    3. the dog is not a nuisance (barking, urinating, defecating, or obnoxiously smelly)

    The tendency for people to announce their PREFERENCES about service dogs as being RULES for service dogs only perpetuates stigma. Many owners are doing self training, often due to limited income. Program dogs cost tens of thousands of dollars, and programs tend to serve a very narrow scope of clientele – this program is only for autistic kids, that program is only for PTSD veterans, etc.

    So here’s a plan for a revised article:

    Title – How to know if a service dog is a fake

    Body – Don’t worry about it. It’s none of your business. Move on with your day.

    • Sharon says:

      Well said!

      • Jimmy says:

        Thank You! I’m so tired of hearing that your dog is a Pit Bull, she cannot be real. I’ve been told while in a hospital bed by a nurse that if I did come in with my dog I better have proper paperwork or she will be removed. She wasn’t trained by a trainer. She was trained by me. We literally function as one. She has been to the emergency the one other time I went. I suffer from PTSD, Anxiety, Agoraphobia and depression. It’s hats to go out without her. I have a vest harness leash and I’d badges and a letter from my psychiatrist also we both have ID. I can see if my dog was dragging me through the store for more than another person that wants to give kisses, she brings me into personal spaces to overcome my fear and as well makes me feel safe. So that means barking and whining as signals of hers for me and vice versa. I haven’t ever been asked. I wouldn’t know what to say. Do you have to offer proof. Is my letter enough and if not how do I know if I’m being discriminated against???? Thank you for speaking out. Not everyone is fake ESA’s or Service Animals I don’t like taking or going out because of the fear of confrontation and embarrassment. My Dog is very proud when she sees her collar coming so she wears her vest proudly, she’s accomplished something and she is proud of it. I’ll take that, but what’s next a scarlet letter saying exactly what legally says your disability is even a real disability.

        I truly respect the Service Animals that serve! selflessly!

        • greg says:

          If you trained it yourself, FAKE

          • stephanie says:

            the ADA states that the Handler can train their own service dogs.

          • Hayes says:

            Disabled people have the right to train their own dog under the ADA which we wouldn’t have service dogs at all without

          • Nope I trained mine to my specific disabilities. She does exactly what she is trained to do says:

            Nope I trained mine to my specific disabilities, she does exactly what she has been trained to do. And she does Not appreciate people that push themselves on her “oh puppy you want to let me pet you” keep your hands, eyes and your talking off my dog. And until you see her in action you have no clue what exactly she is trained to do and it’s actually none of your business 🙂

        • Richard A Campbell says:

          I have a service dog, she was so well trained that she would not allow anyone to touch her.. I dont want a dog that is stand offish, so I took her shopping at night, when there were fewer people in the store, and I allowed people, Mostly Kids, to pet her, IF THEY ASK FIRST, so my dog would be less “Offended” by people who did reach out and touch, without asking..! Now,.. she is a wonderful, “well rounded” dog, with a great personality.! I take her everywhere, and we have been across the U.S. several times, by automobile, stopping at truck stops and restaurants along the way.. She has been in several Hospitals, and rehab-facilities, with me, and for me.! I do carry her National, State, and Local City registration papers with me, at all times. However I seldom have been ask to show them..! April knows when she is, and is NOT, “WORKING”, and acts accordingly.. To her, the Service Dog Vest is the tell that she is working.. Vest off equals “Play Time”, Vest On means she is working, and she knows it..! April is now 5 yrs. old going on 6, she is a Black Lab – Chow Mix, with a Docked Tail… Many People ask if she is a Pit-Mix.. They seem suprised that she is a Service Dog, until they learn why her tail was docked..! I dont support a law requiring a display of numbers, even though we have ours, but real Service Dogs, when working, should have a Vest or Coat that displays “WORKING DOG” or “SERVICE DOG”.. It’s a smart thing to do if you have a “Real Service Dog”..!

        • Melissa Garrett says:

          You’re not completely correct about #1. A diabetic alert service dog is typically a small dog that is carried. Diabetic alert dogs need to be close to their handlers face to detect changes in saliva.

          • Garrett says:

            i’ve never seen a small diabetic alert dog in my life

          • Sherry says:

            I have one 5 pound maltese that helps me with my seizures and when my sugar is dropping. She will cry or start yapping at me. I usually carry her but I also put her in front basket or a wrap around carry. As long as shes a few feet away shes good. I have another Maltese I trained to help me after I have a seizure. She will pounce on me lick me and bark at me. Before my maltese I had a lab. She did same thing before she passed but I find its easier to care for smaller dogs.

        • Dixies owner says:

          Pitbull is not a breed but the most common breed that are feared are gsds every cornor I turn with my baby everyone jumps and are scared of her and she is a dwarf so idk why people get spooked by my gsd 😂 she gets more scared of them.

    • Marie says:

      Thank you so much, what I wanted to say exactly except I could not have said it as well! One comment to what you said though about a dog that defecates or throws up, if the dog has gotten sick but that is not their normal behavior and the handler promptly cleans it up then that does not indicate a lack of house training.

    • Will says:

      No. No to all of this. Stop defending fake service dogs. So sick of dog owners acting so high and mighty to impose being treated with extra favors.

      • Sean says:

        You are a very ignorant person to suggest that all poeple are sporting fake servive animals.
        The fakes need to be weeded out but not at the cost of ostracizng legitimate disabled persons.

      • alan says:

        If I wanted special privledges, the LAST way I’d go about it was through the physical pain, emotional isolation and suffering ,and the hostile judgement that comes with being disabled. You are sick? I’m sick of BEING sick! I’m sick of being judged for using a handicap spot because I ‘look too young’ to be disabled- must be a ‘fake wheel chair’ (yes, I’ve been told that, same ignorance the fake SD idea comes from). I’m sick of every time one of our 2 SDs performs a complicated, well trained out, well-executed task that has more than once SAVED MY LIFE, or my wife’s that someone questions if our SD’s are fake.

        • Renee Cooke says:

          well said. I was just confronted the other day by a security officer at a hospital while waiting to have a lovely test done. Just because my service dog’s vest reads Medical Alert she said she wasn’t a service dog. My anxiety level went out the roof. I showed her my service dog’s id and she looked it over and said “but this doesn’t say ‘service dog’ “. I had to try to explain that a medical alert dog is a service dog. She had to take my ID card to her supervisor. She came back to tell me that he said my dog was ok as long as she wasn’t causing any issues. I felt like I was on trial and everyone in that lobby was staring at me. And as you said I’m so sick of being sick. I’m still a young person and how I had rather still be out running my legs off working than being sick. Her seeing my dog’s vest that says Medical Alert Dog should have been enough.

          • Dixies owner says:


        • Barbie says:

          Alan, well said thank you!!

      • Angela says:

        You sir need to stop hating on ppl.. u don’t know their struggle!!! Or what their issues are .. you are totally out of line with that snobby comment… some ppl have to save up to pay to get their dogs classes as soon are on disability and only get 800 a month so tell me because u on ur high n mighty money train than us poor folks dont deserve the same as u.. u shud be ashamed…how about MINDING YOUR OWN BUSINESS AS THESE PPL ARE!!!

      • Sue Martin says:

        I have a Service Dog that over heats quickly.. he’s a Husky… He’s licensed as a Service Dog… One time he got over heated and couldn’t help but have an unnormal situation… other than that he does his job… are you seriously going to say you don’t go to work or be out in the public and get sick? Are you actually say when you are sick you stay home and miss a days pay? Service Dogs get sick too.

        • Dixies owner says:

          Your a fake because id or papers are fake so your licensed service animal is fake please stop faking a service animal am i the only one here who knows the laws

    • alan says:

      Excellent reply Freeda!

      For example, I have PTSD and Autism and when senory overload or flashbacks are too mcuh, our SD will try everything else first to ground me- pressure, licling etc, but if that doesnt work, and nothing can get me out of a situation I am non-responsive in, he WILL, BY TRAINING pull the leash to makle me follow him out of the store/enviroment to a safe place where I can better recouperate. Additionally, due to mobility issues, both my wife and I have had times we have fallen and cant get up- especially being in a rather secluded area, our dogs MUST be able to leave to get medication or help from a neighbour- they cannot do that if teathered to us by a leash. This is part of their training to keep us safe.

      Your suggested revised article is spot on. This article is nothing but an ignorant opinion piece that never should have been printed and causes many handlers, especially those with invisibilie disablities more harm through misunderstanding

    • B. Scott says:

      Re: 10) OK so why don’t we all start just bringing our dogs everywhere with us. No problem, right? I call BS.

    • Keith says:

      What if that dog is your neighbors at a apartment building. Like ours is barking and scratching at our door. And just can tell by general actions that it has not been trained. Thank you and move on with your day. Should have paperwork like anything else in this world does. Proof. You can look me up on google. Why cant i just look animal animal. Hiding something. No,then no worries right. By the way,my young daughter is so scared when it comes on 20 foot leash bolting full speed at her.I want proof. Not im protected by a you cant ask no questions law hahaha. Get with the times. I cant ask about your disability.I can ask you whatever I want so take your service dog unless you really need it and shove off.

      • Debbie says:

        Fist that’s terrible that such a thing happened to your daughter, and yes there should be some way to know if it’s a SD, I have a SD many hours of training, I wish there was a way for all to have proff ( it would help the disabled persons and their SD as well. Only each person with disabilities may have one problem or several so their SD may have many tasks, a situation that is more difficult to find trainers for, so several trainer at different times may be used,that’s alot of paperwork to carry around.also ADA does allow the disabled persons to train their own, IE-no paperwork. Sadly not an easy solution to the problem.

    • Marian C says:

      Is there a way that I could get in contact with you? I’m writing an essay on service dogs and I’d like to have a reliable resource and you actually have correct information on them. I can’t currently use what you’ve written because there isnt a good way to cite this.

    • Deborah says:

      Excellent response Freeda. I just wanted to say that #8 is not always accurate. I have a highly trained SD for PTSD and other issues. She is a 40 lb border collie; very smart and sensitive. Three months ago she was literally run over by a loaded shopping cart by someone goofing off. After being out of service to heal for 6 weeks she is working again. While she is still tasking and alerting she is now scared of shopping carts, and when people crowd her. I originally trained her myself and I’ve now enlisted a SD trainer to help her get past her fears. If someone saw my dog jump when startled or spook they would say that she isn’t a legitimate SD. She is making good progress but it will take time for her confidence to return. Perhaps people (article author) shouldn’t make such sweeping generalizations about what constitutes a legitimate SD. Even with her struggles my dog is still working beautifully 95% of the time.

      • Alice says:

        Fake service dogs suck I can’t believe people put there dogs in the carts and then say well why do kids have a right to go in the cats with there dirt shoes on. Are you kidding me. Your dog is such a fake. It’s just a matter of time before all you dumb people get caught. I can’t wait till they change the laws. Or have people around stores weeding out the fake service dogs.

      • Jennifer says:

        Deborah, I’m so sorry that happened to your dog and hope she is fully healed at this point. I can relate to this because my dog was punched in the face by a kid who literally just charged up and hit him. It came out of nowhere. The next day we had to be out again and since he seemed fine I took him, but while we were out a little girl came charging up and it startled him. He ran back behind my legs. It only took him about ten seconds to recover himself, but this was really unusual behavior. However, he had also just been traumatized the day before. People seeing that might have thought I had an untrained dog posing as a service dog, but the fact is, they aren’t robots. Stuff that happens CAN still affect them. He’s been doing much better when kids are around and he hasn’t seemed afraid of them (even that little girl, as soon as he got over being startled he was back to his usual steady self). It all worries me though. A lot of people are terrible toward disabled people and service dogs.

      • Sue Martin says:

        TY for saying that… I’m sorry about the fears… I to have a loving Service Dog that got attacked by shopping carts… He also got attacked by 4 different pittbulls 4 different times.. He has a fear now of Pittbulls… when he is not near pittbulls or dogs that will remind him of those attacks he is extremely well behaved.. I work with a Trainer on his behaviors.. I agree the only way he/she will over come this is staying in the public.. he/she should not be put in the category of aggressive. I also strongly believe taking them out of the public will make them and the handler go severely backwards. I have Traumatic Brain Injury I couldn’t get out and talk to people, I couldn’t even live day to day tasks without him. I used to be a pingpong ball for focusing… due to my TBI I also have PTSD, Anxiety and depression.

    • Inger says:

      I was thrown back into deep depression and seclusion after being publicly humiliated about my support dog in the post office. Before taking my dog, I went in and asked what the requirements were for a support dog. I was told a collar and a leash. I returned to my car and brought my tech with a collar and a leash. After waiting in line under complete control, the same employee waited for me, told me to produce papers proving my dog was for support, and that the dog required a red collar. I know this is all against the law. Nevertheless, I was ashamed again. I politely took my tech back to the car, reentered the post office and politely mailed the package I had brought. Even after I told the employee she was incorrect about the law, she continued to harass me. It was awful.

      • Garrett says:

        support dogs are not service dogs therefore you cannot take them with you like you would with a service dogs. support dogs are pets, not medical equipment

    • sandra d sanders says:

      love your answer as we also have to train our dogs and you cant train them to the publice without taking them out. I have taken courses and gotten cgc’s but along the way you have to socialize a service dog to the stores and restaurants or what are they good for. My daughters dog the we trained through cgc and public access certification had to go in public to learn. But if a dog attacks him i will spray the dog with bear repelent as my daughter uses her dog as crutch and brace. No you cant per him unless they are sitting down.

    • Jennifer says:

      Cleary everyone this day and age feel more entitled to things they truly dont deserve…they VERY WELL could have been a service animal.. know the Whole story instead of taking on side… what has this world came too.. ppl are so worried about what others do.. or have

      Instead of focusing on their own life and issues… instead of whining … I’m appalled that grown ups and children today lack empathy and consideration of others before judging and making comments and insults to ppl u personally do not know nor give a fuck about.. try understanding what that other person is dealing with.. the world Does Not revolve around those that constantly look for reasons to complain or judge the less fortunate… shame on yall

    • Garrett says:

      service dogs also have to pass the public access test or else they are not alllowed in places that don’t allow pets

  4. Sean says:

    Sorry… “Service animals”

  5. Nick says:

    I believe in my opinion the laws need to be changed. There should be a real place set up to Prove a dog is a real service dog. A place available to get a Real Service dog registered. Such as a Real ID card a Real Certificate and a Real Vest and either get the dog trained or Prove the owner trained it or Prove a Professional trained the dog. This All needs to be made availble loccally in different in areas of your State. I know someone who is in fact been deemed disabed. She went online got her pet dog registered got an ID card a certificate and a vest paid like $50 and now her dog is seen in the public eye as a service dog and she calls him one and tells people he is one. This is Wrong! Wrong Wrong Wrong Wrong Wrong. Her dog is NOT a trained service dog. He does Not always respond to his name, he is Not completely potty trained in doors and he is Not trained to do anything to help her in anyway. He does Not even sit when she tells him too. I think the laws need to be stricter. I dont think just because your disabled you should be able fake your dog and as service dog. Buying fake things online to make your dog look like its a service dog?? WRONG! It puts others in possible danger since the dog is Not trained and it hurts those who really need and have a trained service dog. Just because someone is disabled should Not mean they should be able to buy fake things to show their regular pet is a service dog. She took the dog to school she volunteers there. The teacher made her take the dog home. The teacher knows from being on her profile online that she ordered the stuff online she posted it thst she ordered it. She asked around online on her profile who can help potty train her dog he still has accidents because he is not a fully inside dog. He will be a year old in September. He has fleas and a big hole in his face from flea bites. This is why the teacher said the dog had to leave and for her to take it home because the dog was covered in fleas. She told the teacher he had fleas and showed the teacher the hole smd said its from him digging at the fleas. My point is that in My Opinion its still a Fake Service dog. I dont care if shes disabled or not just because she is it should Not give her the right to take her Pet everywhere when its Not trained to help her in sny way like real ones. She cant be to bad off off to need one at this point in time if her hair is blowing in the wind driving her golf cart all through town at 30MPH instead of using transportation services. By the way I am Not jealous either! Who wants to be disabled? Not this guy! I love my dog I am Not disabled either and if I were unless I needed a dogs services to actual service he belongs at home. The whole point of this is the law states if your disabled your entitled to a service dog but it needs to be trained to help you in some way. But the laws need changed to Require a dog be Proved it is in fact a Real Service dog. This would eliminate the All of Fakers. The people claiming to be disabled and really are not and those that are disabled but have a fake service dog (dogs that are not trained to do anything to help the disabled owner and its still just a pet like mine). Then the real vests and certificates and worn or shown issued can be visible that it is a FAKER whether it be the dog, owner or both. Im all for service dogs that are trained and really needed but I see and know Too many fakers/copycats. Rant over!

    • Angel says:

      The only problem with changing that is the fact the stipulations are set by Constitutional rights and Federal laws.

    • Linda says:

      It should be against the law to sell merchandise that permits people to perpetrate any falsehood. I know Amazon Prime is a major merchandiser of false Service Dog paraphernalia. There are several third party companies who sell the whole scam including a “diagnosis “ after talking by phone to a licensed mental health worker who will provide a letter along with certification documents, vests, collars,leashes etc. for a few hundred dollars an NONE of it provides for a trained legal Service Dog. Why is this legal? If this is stopped it would make legitimate-looking dogs harder to pass off as real. BTW, the letter must state the writer’s medical license number and State and that the disabled person is currently under their care. This is for an Emotional Support Animal or Psychiatric Service Dog.

  6. Noelle says:

    I have been training my own serive dog and a lot of this is just bull. My dog is small, he does his job and has been basically perfect. Depending on what I need, I may carry him cause I need him closer to me than normal. He’s still considered a puppy and has only been working for 3 months, but he knows what to do and how to do his job. Sometimes he has days where he isn’t perfect, and I have to reiterate his training to him. As part of his job, he has to sniff around. Anything could cause me issues and he makes sure I’m ok and in a safe environment. If he smells something he thinks may cause me issues, he comes over to me and makes sure I’m ok by jumping up and licking me and waiting for me to pet his head and tell him “thank you, I’m ok” normally he will stop and go back to his job. There are times he doesn’t and continues licking me and it isn’t until a few seconds later that I realize he sensed something in the environment and in me that I didn’t even know was happening. Saying that a “real” service dog doesn’t sniff is wrong. I’m working so hard to make sure that my SD is well behaved and doesn’t give anyone any issues to doubt him and then being told this stuff really gets on my nerves.

    • Coach James says:

      Look! If your training your own service dog via internet certification then your are breaking the law. Sentencing can include 1 year in jail and $1,000 in fines for Service Dog Fraud…

      There are a lot of websites suggesting “turn your pet into a service animal”; which is actually classified as “Emotional Support Animal” and not to be confused with “Service Dog” who have years of professional training. “Don’t be a fool”, persons are getting caught and serving time more regularly then ever.

      Bottom line “A pet cannot go into restaurants, grocery stores and fast food places period!” and there is no legal way around this being Handicap or not do not try and pass your pet or emotional support animal as a “Service Dog”, cause a lot time and money go into training these wonderful life saving dogs”

      Legal Questions which can asked by anyone seeing a questionable “Service Animal”:
      1. Ask is your Dog a trained “Service Dog” yes or no?
      2. If yes, then what has your “Service Dog” been trained to do?

      Answers like these (consist of Service Dog Fraud) and pet can be removed from location or police can be called:
      My dog is trained to support me emotionally
      My dog is trained to protect me
      My dog is trained to comfort me
      My dog is trained to alert me when I have fallen down
      others may be of similar content were Dog is not actually trained in an actual Service Dog Task…

      • Michele says:

        Yes. I agree.
        Although most people are not as tough or even fearlessly assertive as a retired Marine. I paid to have a sd trained. I don’t think i would want to train my own.
        Needless to say there may be wanna bes in any situation. Every dog has their own personality. Not every dog is qualified to even provide a service just like not every person can do a certain service.
        Because Rex is professionally trained he surprises me in how much he knows- like when visited the rehabilitation center he stops and just stands next to the walker when he visits people.
        Before training he just did not have polish/manners. The trainers took him to restaurants and such places for training. The trainer had him for a good while. Lastly he does tend to act better in public than at home- its like he is showing off out there.
        Good debate

      • RICHARD CAMPBELL says:

        Coach you are WRONG..! There is NO LAW that says you can’t train your own Service Dog.! I have trained several, in the past, for other family members. But when I needed one for my-self, I had another trainer help me.. I’m now a double amputee, I still walk, with the help of steel and plastic legs and my dog.! I also now have possesion of, my now deceased wife’s E.S.A., and yes, they are completely different..! My service dog retrives items that I drop, or can’t reach, and helps me to stand up, or even walk up hill… She brings my phone when it rings, gets my house and car keys if I drop them, brings me the TV Remote, and many many other things.. My E.S.A. does none of these things.! My point is, if people who want to limit or regulate these Service Dogs, had any idea what they really do for the handler, they would mind their own business..! Fake Service Dogs are easy to spot, if you know anything about Service Dogs.! Maybe better training for the PUBLIC, and the person at the STORE or RESTAURANT would be of better service…

  7. M says:

    One of my roommates has a service dog which I suspect it to be fake. It barks at me whenever I enter the apartment and, while it never caused any harm to me, it isn’t respectful of boundaries. Once I just opened my bedroom’s door in the morning and immediately got barked at. My roommate isn’t very sound either: even though I never mistreated their dog, they once accused me of being mean to their dog. It is worthless to address my property manager about these concerns since I know from previous experience that they will side with my roommate instead of being neutral as they should.
    A week ago my romantic partner, who is afraid of dogs, was visiting me and, instead of having them sleeping with me in my room, I decided to book a cheap hotel room for both of us.

    • Hayes says:

      Service dogs can act however they want when off duty generally.
      How they act in your apartment doesn’t matter and service dog trainers spend so much time on their dogs they can become defensive of them.
      It’s all about how they act when on duty, my dog is a little gremlin off duty but on duty she is alert and focused.

      • Dixies owner says:

        But she stated this ‘service dog’ as on duty and most of the time small service animals or dogs are fake you rarely see real teams

  8. James Steward says:

    I am a retired Marine. I had my hearing destroyed while in the service. I currently own two Service Dogs (labs) I ‘sometimes’ take one of them out in public (Elsa) I simply do not understand this article? Why does anyone of you care about a ‘Fake Service Dog? I’ve owned one for over 35 years and not one time has my Service Dogs rights been interfered with. I mean really, do you people stand guard over Handicap parking places? The Federal LAws will protect you in any circumstances that violate your Service Dogs rights. Move along.

  9. James Steward says:

    I am a retired Marine. I had my hearing destroyed while in the service. I currently own two Service Dogs (labs) I ‘sometimes’ take one of them out in public (Elsa) I simply do not understand this article? Why does anyone of you care about a ‘Fake Service Dog? I’ve owned one for over 35 years and not one time has my Service Dogs rights been interfered with. I mean really, do you people stand guard over Handicap parking places? The Federal Laws will protect your SD and you in any circumstances that violate your Service Dogs rights. Move along. I can walk in a store with a million Fake SD and it will not affect me or my SD one bit. I’m sure someone out there is saying “well one could attack your SD” and yes this would be true. Just like my neighbor’s dog could, so what’s the point.

    • Steven says:

      As a landlord people usually try to fake service dogs because either 1) pets aren’t allowed at all 2) many breeds are restricted by our insurance carriers, or 3) people don’t want to pay the pets fees.. This can be a huge liability for us, it’s unfair to responsible pet owners who did pay the fees, and it looks bad for people like you, who have a legitimate service animal. I’ve had to deal with so many fake service animals by now (usually with those stupid internet certificates) that I’ve come to question anyone that tells me they have a service animal.

  10. Randy says:

    Have a small dog when displaced by a hurricane hotel I’m staying in says no dogs period but other people have them they say there service dogs and don’t need to prove it how can I tell if these dogs are service animals

  11. Inger says:

    I was thrown back into deep depression and seclusion after being publicly humiliated about my support dog in the post office. Before taking my dog, I went in and asked what the requirements were for a support dog. I was told a collar and a leash. I returned to my car and brought my tech with a collar and a leash. After waiting in line under complete control, the same employee waited for me, told me to produce papers proving my dog was for support, and that the dog required a red collar. I know this is all against the law. Nevertheless, I was ashamed again. I politely took my tech back to the car, reentered the post office and politely mailed the package I had brought. Even after I told the employee she was incorrect about the law, she continued to harass me. It was awful.

  12. Debra Bryson says:

    I have a “non fake” service dog, she has been in service for 12 years, she is almost 14 of course her 1st year plus was in training…let’s just say she knows her job well. She rides in a cart now every chance I can get for legit reasons she also whines when needed ( part of her training) and she is definitely not a fake. There are dogs in service for many reasons so, as the sevice dog must be trained for each individuals specific needs, there will be differences, please be careful putting your thoughts out there, it could cause problems for those whose service dogs are not fake though only doing trained needs for their handler. I do however feel there is a need to have something legally in place to identify a service dog (for the publics convenience as well as the handlers). Thank you for the opportunity to reply.

    • Kevin S says:

      Very well put! Thank you.
      My issue is #3, with my disability and mobility issues my “Non Fake” Service Dog IS trained to either pull on her leash (help me to start walking) OR walk next to me (possibly, most likely leaning on me so I do not fall) she is trained to do whichever I require! She has, over time learned what I require of her! Also, her Job is to protect me! By not allowing me to harm myself or possibly others (bumping into me etc.) That’s helping me walk, using stairs or just standing! To someone NOT familiar with both myself or my Service Dog could misunderstand what is going on!
      Like what has been said is every case could/is different! Don’t judge unless you have ALL the facts.

  13. Luana says:

    I went to address the issue of “A Service Dog”, with 1 major concern. What About People Like Myself Who Are Severely Allergic To Dogs?. I’m Disabled According To The ADA. I’m 60 years old and was diagnosed with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis at Age 12, I have Lupus, Rheumatoid Arthritis and Environmental Allergies. Today I had to stand in hallway of my AIR doctors office because of someone “Service Dog”. I’m writing this comment after having an reaction. Eyes Watering and Itching, Nose Itching.Thorat Scratching and Feeling Sick.

    • Hanner says:

      Not every person is going to know you’re allergic to dogs, those with service dogs (like myself) cannot and do not have too disappear and not take their dogs into places when the dog is DOING THERE JOB just because of someone’s allergy.

      I am severely allergic to many different things but it doesn’t stop me from going to places where those allergies may be present I just take precautions – taking my allergy medications with me where I go, taking my allergy medication and taking any other medications as well as my service dog where ever I go.

      When I have my service dog with me I am not worried about other people or there own problems I am focused on staying alive and staying safe with my dog who is doing a job

      We as service dog owners cannot be concerned about others allergies when without our service dogs we would more than likely be in danger.

      On another note – every service dog is trained to do different jobs you cannot assume that because a dog is carried it is not a service dog – those with heart conditions, breathing issues or anxiety may need there dog to be close to them to be able to alert to their human.

      Service dogs are meant to be doing a job if they are distracted by other people then they are not able to do there job it is not right in any way to distract the dog or the person.

      I agree with the aggressive part dogs who are service dogs are well trained and not meant to be aggressive.

      Some service dogs MAY pull on the leash or not be on one for a reason my service dog pulls on the leash to get me back to reality and take me from an anxiety related environment and some may be off of one for mobility reasons and they will be trained not to (as much as possible) not wonder from their owner.

      Do NOT discount a service dog and handler and just dont question them full stop


    • Jennifer says:

      Unfortunately, people with service dogs can’t avoid places just because someone might be allergic. That’s a huge violation of the disabled person’s rights. I’m allergic to a lot of things too. I don’t expect everyone else to never be anywhere with those things just because I’m allergic. My allergy, my responsibility. It can feel unfortunate sometimes because it can end up feeling like those setting off your allergy don’t care about your rights. However, a service dog is there to do a job. The dog is basically medical equipment, and it’s not right to expect disabled people to go without something that helps them function simply because allergies might be involved. That being said, my service dog has an allergen blocking suit. Since I have some rather severe allergies myself I think I tend to be more cognizant of how my dog could potentially affect those around us. The suit seems to help a fair amount.

    • Brucewh says:

      A person who is allergic to a guide dog can, at least in theory, take something to temporarily alleviate allergy symptoms. A guide dog user can’t take something to alleviate blindness symptoms.

  14. Rose says:

    While I agree with a lot of this, I also agree with kany who basically say, why get so involved to ‘spot fake service dogs’ – while this is good for owners and managers of businesses, it is not the public’s concern for the most part (unless of course the dog is causing you personal issues. For one, how about people certify their children to go out? I habe ptsd and anxiety and my panic attacks get so bad if I didn’t have my service dog, I’d possibly be arrested, have had to leave places or not go out at all and one big trigger for me is whinkng out of control human children! I can’t control my behaviour during an attack and I’ve been afraid in the past I’d lunge at a child myself. (Yes I have one of my own and during baby/toddler years would leave places out of respect for others, much less myself!) I am on a limited income and cannot afford to pay for classes, however, I have been training dogs myself for many years and happened to be lucky that one bonded with me the owners couldn’t care for and has been exceptional. Not all dogs make for good service dogs! I’ve had some professional but personal help with training so I don’t have a cetificate of course completion, so to say that a dog needs this makes it ok mpossible for many people to get much needed assistance a well trained dog can give. Also, I agree, dogs are not robots and some of these ‘signs’ are not valid. Since my service tech is small, I have put him in carts during busy times when people have previously stepped on him or it can not only be dangerous for him, but interfere with otherd trying to get through crowds (which I’d never be able to do without him). Just like purple a dog can be distracted or as mine, and using a cane as well, has to sometimes walk behind me or move out of the way even just for me, much less navigating a crowd. He sees or hears a distraction and then looks to check on me – but when it happens, yes, he looks up to check it out and could be mistaken. He doesn’t make sounds, but he does jump up on me to alert me that I need to stop, take meds, get away, other times I have an immediate trigger where he has to comfort me. I also do not appear disabled and as others, have even without him had people be rude, make comments about faking being disabled and already afraid of my car being destroyed as I’ve heard so many horror stories of such people taking action on their own instead of minding their own business. While my heart goes out to those with allergies, I have a loved one who is so allergic to cats even if you have a cat at home and visit his house, he will end up in the ER just from that person’s clothing, I also get sick easily and just people with bad hygiene can make me very sick or people who go out with colds or contagious illnesses can put me in the ER and my SD also alerts me when I’m not breathing, so you’d also have to say if your kids are out of control or you are personally sick, you can’t be allowed out without certification…. Unfortunately regardless of what it is, there will always be people who lie, abuse laws and such regardless of stricter laws put in place to try to prevent…

  15. MJ says:

    Sometimes service dogs are startled by a loud noise. Sometimes they are feeling a lot of stress or anxiety and whine or even bark. Sometimes they pull. These behaviors are rare, but dogs are not infallible. They have good days and bad days just like people. You need to remember that these are professional animals, not robots.

  16. sandra d sanders says:

    my dog has to notice people coming up from behind me and warn me as I cannot hear things like bikes and stuff as I am partially deaf and have no ability to hear sounds from behind or the direction of the sound. he has to be focused on me but also things that might run into me that I do not hear. if people were more polite I would not need this but I became afraid of going out due to being hit from behind.

  17. Service Dog says:

    You’re totally off base with #1. My certified service dog sometimes rides in a dog stroller for two reasons: 1. He has developed a heart condition and needs restricted activity. It’s not worth it to me for him to drop dead in order to make someone like you (i.e. the service dog police) more comfortable. 2. It is helpful so that he does not get stepped on in crowded spaces. He performs his duties just fine in the stroller or when being carried. Our service dog exhibits impeccable behavior in every way whether in the cart, on the ground, or being carried.

    • Jennifer says:

      First off, there is no “certification” for service dogs. Secondly, that is unethical to work a dog that has a medical condition that is severe enough that he could “drop dead” while working. If your dog’s heart condition is that bad then he needs to be retired and you need a different dog.

  18. B says:

    I know many people who work with service dogs. A disability is protected by the Ada, PTSD is not a protected disability. Neither is an allergy to dogs. So why is someone’s PTSD more important than someone else’s life threatening allergy? Every legitimate service dog owner I gave ever worked with would love a registration system that is similar to an auto tag. Not an expensive thing, but involve a doctor and have large fines for providing fake evidence. Handing over that card would save them from eventually just getting banned from living. Because they all fear the day that this goes too far and the law is overturned. I’ve known a few with ptsd as well, they are mixed on the idea of whether they should be allowed to take their dog anywhere. But the only time it bothers me is on an airplane (when the allergic can’t get away ) and in a supermarket/restaurant (where it’s actually a violation of state law on most states to have a dog if you don’t have a protected disability because that dogs nose was in another dog’s butt and it is wrong that bacteria on my loaf of bread!!). Those people have a special section of hell reserved for them. And one day, those will be the people to blame when the laws protecting real service dogs are overturned because someone like Donald Trump overreacts to this nonsense.

    • Brucewh says:

      Well, to begin with, PTSD patients are protected under the ADA. The EEOC has specifically so ruled on at least three occasions since the ADA became law. EEOC Regulations (2011) is current. So you’re off to a poor start.

      Trump cannot overturn, revoke, repeal, nullify, or cancel a federal law. Nor can any other government official. A change to the ADA requirements regarding service animals must be enacted by the Congress and signed into law by the president.

      In 2011, the most recent changes to the Service Animals provisions in the ADA became law. That legislation established, for example, that effective March 15, 2011, only dogs are recognized as service animals. The current rules for service animal access, behavior, control, inquiries, exclusions, etc., were revised or clarified in that legislation; the DOJ and EEOC then issued regulations and guidance information as well.

      There’s nothing about the ADA concerning service animals that can or will be challenged through an appeals court. If you wish to see changes made to the current law, you need to contact your Congresscritters and exercise your 1st Amendment petition for redress of grievances right that is specified in the Amendment’s final clause.

  19. Mary Mignano says:

    I believe that all dogs should be required to have basic training which should be provided at a reasonable fee or they could also be trained at home as long as they can pass a basic course where they have to perform at least sit, stay, fetch, the no! command and that they are polite when being petted by children, men and women and people with canes, wheelchairs and walkers. They should also be able to socialize with other dogs. In this way the owners as well as the public have a better chance of being comfortable with dogs in their vicinity. It is the chaos of untrained dogs that harms their reputations for dog-lovers and those that need these wonderful animals for assistance.

  20. Evan Samdahl says:

    As someone stated that a true “service dog” is a medical instrument and more or less be treated along the lines of a wheelchair, cane, etc. If someone’s dog is not under control and physically attacks another person or their dog then that situation should be treated as though that dog is a lethal weapon. The person being attacked should therefore be able to defend themselves to the fullest extent, even if they are carrying a concealed weapons permit and firearm. So if someone’s dog attacks a person or their animal the guilty party should be charged the same as a person assaulting others with a deadly weapon. See how this is a slippery slope. I’ve got multiple neighbors in a condo that are abusing this ESA law. The only way to remove these animals is to actually video record them defecating in common areas or in other words catching them in the act of being a nuisance on video. I’m sorry but if you’re that depressed that a proper diet, exercise, psychology, better life choices and/or prescribed medication doesn’t do better for you than a being completely RESPONSIBLE for another being than you really are nuts. Being responsible includes proper training and care for that being. Since some or most of these “ESA dependents” don’t properly train their animals that just shows part of the reason why they’re a mess. Giving them a “take them anywhere pass” doesn’t solve anything but only enable. This ESA system had more holes than Swiss cheese and needs to be scaled WAY BACK. If you live in a condo or apartment you shouldn’t have a dog in that concrete box surrounded in every direction by other people anyways. If you really care about that animal get an appropriate house with an appropriate yard with another companion animal for while you’re away from home.

  21. Christine says:

    I am actually in the process of training my dog as my assistance dog, she is doing really well but is still a little jumpy in shops. She is great at refocusing but has has a couple of accidents. I am trying to sort this but I don’t know how as she is totally house trained at home and has been for a long time.

    This doesn’t mean she is fake because she isn’t, it means she has things she needs to improve and I am attempting to do that. So please remember that some can be in training and may not be “fake”.

    If anyone has any tips, I would greatly appreciate them. Thanks.

    • Fiona says:

      You say house trained. Do you mean your dog can go in and out of your house freely to go. Does your dog whine at you when they need to go and you let them go. Or do they go on command. There is a big difference between all of them. I am training my dog as a service dog too and going on command preferably in a specific spot at home or an appropriate place place in public. Is what my trainer is getting us to do. So before I go out I send him off. If I’m out all day then I will take him and give the command/signal. Then no accidents. Only had one accident while in training and that was in the first couple of days since then never.

  22. Walter A. Bradford says:

    You have an article in your base about “spotting Fake Service Dogs”. Much of your article couldn’t be further from accuracy if you had intended it to be such.


    Service Dogs need not to be on a leash, they need not be retrievers. Your article seems to leave out trained Service Animals for folks with emotional or psychiatric needs. My Service Dog is a 10 lb Maltese. I have Generalized Anxiety, I am Bipolar and suffer with Depression. With each one of these matters, my Service Dog needs to be within hand reach. She sees me beginning to become angry over nothing, she then puts her front paws on the shopping cart handle for me to calm. She then will lick my hands while trying to jump into my arms. That is all she needs to do and I immediately recognize I am in trouble and if I can collect myself, I do & continue my chores. If I cannot regroup, we leave the location and return home.


    I also have Diabetes Type II. She smells my breath for any signs that my glucose levels may be rising and she begins licking the air/breath line of myself and she’ll wag her tail. It is usually about then that I must eat a simple sugar item to maintain my presence or I must leave and get to my vehicle where I have a small sweet stand “stash”. Sometimes I can return to the chores, and again, sometimes I must go home.


    Fluffy will not walk on a leash, on a harness and she does not fetch. But since 2012, at the behest of my medical doctor on one hand and my psychiatrist on the other, I had to get a Service Animal and even though she does not meet your indicated norms, she is true blue and legal.


    Service Dogs and small horses/ponies no longer have to be specially trained. They do not need to be on the floor, in a harness with a sign on their sides announcing their professional standing. Doing tricks for others to see & agree your dog is legal as a S.D. is just one violation of my rights as a Disabled Person to enjoy my life, as do you and many others without undue insult, threat or exclusion from any site or location that folks without disabilities may venture. The 2018 version is on The ADA website, I believe in PDF.


    I carry copies with me as well as a copy of Alabama’s ADA enhancement laws.


    The one thing I will say that I am 100% in total agreement with you on is the fact that the ADA has been unable to define specifically what constitutes a clear, concise regulation that handlers and business entities can read, understand and work with. Both sides of this equation is being doled out in chaotic, unseemly fashion which does nothing but harbor contempt, fear and misunderstanding from both side. The ADA has done their level best to make this very sensible and life saving authority seamless and a benefit for all.


    • Brucewh says:

      Just so you know, effective March 15, 2011, the ADA was amended to state that only dogs are service animals. Miniature horses have not been covered as service animals since that date. There may be other legislation covering the tiny equines, but the ADA eliminated them more than eight years ago.

  23. Elisa says:

    I have a service animal, I keep him close, either holding him near my heart or in a cart so he is focused on me and not external surroundings. However, you brought up an interesting point saying you “would be arrested”. Well I have been, my dog was returned to me after the whole mess was sorted out, but it was a pretty intense situation. Now he has some anxiety issues(understandably) however I am now able to leave him at home, sometimes, and he doesn’t want me to go. I feel so guilty all the time when I leave him behind with my other dog. I actually found this post trying to Google suggestions on easing his anxiety. If anyone has experience of a lot of knowledge on the subject of being arrested in front of your dog or service animal, is really appreciate them. Thanks

  24. Pat T. says:

    Ilive in a retirement home (independent living

    I live in an independent living retirement home, lady came to live here and she has a service dog. We were told she needed this dog 24/7 well she walks around all the time without the dog but dinner time she brings the dog with no leash to the dining room has the dog on her lap he puts his face on the table and some people goes to him and pets him. lot of people do not agree with this what can we do, call the healyh department

  25. Beth says:

    I have allergies and asthma. If I come into contact with dog saliva ( not fur like many people think) I get a rash. Before taking your service or emotional support dog to a restaurant or store please make sure it is clean to remove as much extra saliva and dander as possible. and if it must go in shopping carts or on furniture please bring your own cover. Thank you.

  26. DAWN MCDANIEL says:

    Have a few issues with some of the fake spotting behaviors that you listed.

    #1 Some dogs must be able to smell the breath or feel the heart beat to monitor the handler’s health

    #2 Some dogs are trained to perform tasks that must be performed off leash. So long as the dog is under voice control, it is in accordance with the ADA.

    #3 Some mobility dogs are trained for momentum pulling. When I am in too much pain to move on my own, my SDiT is trained to pull me a bit to keep me moving.

    #5 I have MCS and my dog is trained to sniff the air to give me forewarning of triggers that could affect my health in a wide range since he can detect them before I can. This has kept me from going into respiratory distress as well as kept me from having to recover for days in bed afterwards.

  27. RIch l says:

    So, I was wondering do you tell your service dog its off duty? Seen a so called service dog 2 days ago at a church and it was jumping all over the chairs and was only a pup. I am a dog owner / lover but really people are abusing this for the people who really need it just like everything else.

  28. Amanda says:

    A friend of mine was at a 4 star restaurant and another customer was there at a table with his service or support dog. The dog was sitting in the man’s lap while the man fed it food with his fork. No joke, no exaggeration! The manager couldn’t say anything out of fear of bad publicity or being sued (even if it was a fake) but customers had to watch and be grossed out. Does anybody think this might have been an actual service dog and if not, what could the manager have done since you can’t ask or imply anything?

Leave a Reply