Service Dogs


What requirements are there for my dog to be considered a service dog?


  1. Have Passed the American Kennel Club Canine Good Citizen (CGC) or an Equivalent after the age of 12 months. 
  2. Have a journal with the hours of training and locations (a minimum of one hundred twenty (120) hours of schooling over a period of Six Months or more.* At least thirty (30) hours should be devoted to outings that will prepare the dog to work obediently and unobtrusively in public places)
  3. Be Spayed or Neutered
  4. Be a minimum of 18 months of age
  5. Signed Copy of Veterinary Statement dated within 30 days of application
  6. A doctors note / prescription stating you have a disability and that you would benefit from a serviced dog.
  7. Dog is trained to perform 3 observable service tasks related to your disability
  8. Be clean and properly groomed.
  9. County license tag
  10. ID Tag with name and phone number worn on collar
  11. Flat Collar (no European, prong collars allowed)
  12. Leash no longer than 6 feet, (NO RETRACTABLE LEASHES)
  13.  Automatic Failures: for Aggression; The dog can have no aggression towards human or other animals must be neutral at all times. Evaluators will also be looking for fear and stress levels of the dog. If the evaluator feels the dog is fearful or highly stressed and does not seem to enjoy the work it will not pass Dog must be healthy free from injuries, pain, sickness, disease. 

The Public Access Test

The goal of the test is to discover whether or not a particular team is ready to go places out in public without trainer supervision. The safety of the dog, the handler and the public were the main considerations in developing the specific exercises for testing the team .


The Public Access Test evaluates the dog's obedience and manners and the handler's skills in a variety of situations which include:

A. The handler's abilities to: 

( 1 ) safely load and unload the dog from a vehicle; 

( 2 ) enter a public place without losing control of the dog; 

( 3 ) to recover the leash if accidently dropped, and 

( 4 ) to cope calmly with an access problem if an employee or customer questions the individual’s right to bring a dog into that establishment.

B. The dog's ability to: 

( 1 ) safely cross a parking lot, halt for traffic, and ignore distractions; 

( 2 ) heel through narrow aisles; 

( 3 ) hold a Sit-Stay when a shopping cart passes by or when a person stops to chat and pets the dog; 

(4 ) hold a Down Stay when a child approaches and briefly pets the dog; 

( 5 ) hold a Sit Stay when someone drops food on the floor; hold a Down Stay when someone sets a plate of food on the floor within 18" of the dog, then removes it a minute later. [the handler may say “Leave It” to help the dog resist the temptation.] 

( 6 ) remain calm if someone else holds the leash while the handler moves 20 ft. away; 

( 7 ) remain calm while another dog passes within 6 ft. of the team during the test. This can occur in a parking lot or store. Alternatively, you could arrange for a neighbor with a pet dog to stroll past your residence while you load your dog into a vehicle at the beginning of the test.

What Certification is required in California?

 CERTIFICATION is not required in the USA. Many states lack programs willing to certify dogs that did not go through that program’s training course. The DOJ decided to foster “an honor system,” by making the tasks the dog is trained to perform on command or cue to assist a disabled person, rather than certification ID from specific programs, the primary way to differentiate between a service animal and a pet. It opened the door for people to train their own assistance dog, usually with the help of an experienced trainer, if a program dog is unavailable. 

AKC Canine Good Citizen (CGC) Test

 Another way to document you have made an effort to train your dog to be safe around other dogs and people while working out in public is to pass what is known as the “CGC” test. Many obedience training centers offer the test to handlers who take their six week “Canine Good Citizen” class after a six week Beginner obedience class. Others may offer it once or twice a year to members of the public who want to earn that credentialing. IAADP urges owner trainers to at least train an assistance dog to the point where he or she can pass it with flying colors. Those who pass receive an impressive looking Certificate signed by the AKC evaluator. The Therapy Dogs International (TDI) Test, sometimes offered the same day, is basically the same test, but an assistant will typically push a wheelchair around and/or an IV pole while the dog goes through the different exercises to ensure the dog is able to work calmly in a hospital or nursing home setting. 

What are business allowed to ask?


Trained tasks that mitigate the effects of a disabling condition are the legal basis for granting access rights to disabled handlers under the Americans With Disabilities Act. An assistance dog with this special training is viewed as assistive/service technology / medical equipment, not as a pet. Businesses have the right to ask a disabled person, "What Tasks does your service animal perform?" This question can be asked if there is any doubt about the dog’s legal status and whether to impose their restrictive pet policies. An acceptable answer might be, "my service dog is trained to get help for me in a medical crisis by __." (Fill in the blank as to the specific task) You do not have to reveal your disability in formulating your reply.

Businesses also have the right to exclude any animal, including a service animal, who threatens the health or safety of other people through aggressive or unruly behavior. An assistance/service dog can also be evicted for disruptive behavior that interferes with a business providing goods or services. The DOJ used the example of a dog barking in a movie theater.

What if my dog occassionally shows aggression?

 Any dog who exhibits aggressive behavior in violation of our Minimum Training Standards for Public Access is NOT eligible for enrollment as an Assistance Dog, or renewal, no matter what disability related tasks or alerts the dog is said to perform. If a dog later displays aggressive behavior and cannot be rehabilitated within a reasonable time period, ethically, that dog should be retired as unfit for duty outside the home, as the dog does not qualify as an assistance/service dog under our Minimum Training Standards for Public Access. Non aggressive barking as a trained behavior will be acceptable in appropriate situations