My Service Dog, Jade

Sunday, April 15, 2012

The Difference Between A REAL Service Dog And A Fraud

I've written several blogs recently on "Fake Service Dogs" and why people are attempting to pass their pets off as service dogs. I've also discussed the negative impacts of doing such a thing (impersonating a disabled person and attempting to pass your pet off as a service dog) on the real service dog team community. I also read many other articles dedicated to the same topic, as this has become a very real problem.  It is also a problem for business owners and managers, as they are often too afraid of being sued to oust a "service dog" from their establishment, even when the dog becomes a nuisance or even aggressive toward other patrons/customers.  I've read stories where customers have legitimately complained about a "service dog" in the establishment that was lunging at customers, barking incessantly, and being an all out nuisance, and the business manager refused to ask the "service dog" team to take the dog out for fear of confrontation and being sued.  It's become very clear to me that business owners/managers need to be properly educated about what a REAL service dog looks like, and how it should behave, so that they can more easily spot a fake "service dog" and deal with it appropriately.

Disabled people have rights, true.  They have the right to have a service dog and to bring their legitimate service dog into most any establishment, as long as the dog behaves as it should.  However, business owners and managers have rights too, and so do the other customers who use those establishments.

I think it's pretty clear that a lot of people are on to the fact that there are some people out there who are stooping to new lows, and will stop at nothing to take their pets wherever they want to go.  However, in order to do this, they have to break the law; and make no mistake....impersonating a disabled person, and slapping a vest on your dog to call it a "service dog" without the proper training, is a crime. It is Felony fraud and will be treated as such, when, not if, but WHEN you are caught.

BUT...the big question out there is "how do you know if a person's service dog is a legitimately trained service dog, or a fraud?" Some people say there's no way to tell, since by law the ADA only allows two questions asked to the disabled/service dog team...1) Is that a service dog? and 2) What tasks does the service dog perform to assist you with your disability?


That's why I'm posting this....This is GREAT information that will help anyone see the difference.....

IAADP Minimum Training Standards for Public Access
1. Amount of Schooling: an assistance dog should be given 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.**
2. Obedience Training: a dog must master the basic obedience skills: "Sit, Stay, Come, Down, Heel" and a dropped leash recall in a store in response to verbal commands and/or hand signals.
3. Manners: a dog must acquire proper social behavior skills. It includes at a minimum:
  • No aggressive behavior toward people or other animals - no biting, snapping, snarling, growling or lunging and barking at them when working off your property.
  • No soliciting food or petting from other people while on duty.
  • No sniffing merchandise or people or intruding into another dog’s space while on duty.
  • Socialize to tolerate strange sights, sounds, odors etc. in a wide variety of public settings.
  • Ignores food on the floor or dropped in the dog’s vicinity while working outside the home.
  • Works calmly on leash. No unruly behavior or unnecessary vocalizations in public settings.
  • No urinating or defecating in public unless given a specific command or signal to toilet in an appropriate place.
4. Disability Related Tasks: the dog must be individually trained to perform identifiable tasks on command or cue for the benefit of the disabled human partner. This includes alerting to sounds, medical problems, certain scents like peanuts or situations if training is involved.

For a definition of a "task" and "individually trained,” and “what is not a task” and many examples of tasks performed by different kinds of assistance dogs, Click Here.
5. Prohibited Training: Any training that arouses a dog’s prey drive or fear to elicit a display of aggression for guard or defense purposes is strictly prohibited. Non aggressive barking as a trained behavior is permitted in appropriate situations. (See IAADP’s ban on the enrollment of protection trained, attack trained or aggressive dogs as an assistance dog with our organization. Click Here)
6. A Trainer’s Responsibilities: Trainers function as ambassadors for the assistance dog movement. This includes a disabled owner trainer, a provider’s staff or a volunteer with a puppy or adult dog “in training.” It also includes an assistance dog partner or able bodied facilitator helping a disabled loved one to keep up an assistance dog’s training. At a minimum, you should:

* The 120 hours of schooling includes the time invested in homework training sessions between obedience classes or lessons from an experienced dog trainer. ** Eligibility for Certification from a provider who supports IAADP’s Minimum Training Standards for Public Access may require you turn in a weekly training log to document your dog received a minimum of 120 hours of schooling over a period of six months or more.

How will you know when your dog is ready to graduate from an "in training" status to the status of a full fledged assistance dog with whom you are entitled to have public access rights?
An excellent tool for evaluating a team's readiness to graduate [e.g. finish up formal training] is the Public Access Certification Test (PACT) which can be found on the website of Assistance Dogs International at The ADI Public Access Certification Test was developed over 15 years ago as a consumer protection measure by the ADI Team Testing Committee, which included input from both providers and IAADP Partner members. Overall, 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.
This test creates a level playing field, since it does not matter whether it is a guide, hearing or service dog team being tested or who trained the dog. What matters is the team’s performance. Every ADI program is required to administer this test before graduating and credentialing a team.
Disability mitigating tasks or work are not critiqued during the test. However, to establish a dog’s eligibility to take this test to become an assistance dog, ADI programs would ask for a demo in advance of at least three service dog tasks, three hearing dog sound alerts or a series of tasks known as “guide dog work.” To document the dog performs tasks in the home such as seizure response work, alerting to an attack of hypoglycemia late at night or fetching a portable phone or beverage, a program may ask the client to submit a video tape of the task(s).
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.

IAADP agrees with ADI's ethical position that the amount of training given to an assistance dog should NEVER fall below the minimum level needed to pass this Public Access Test.

**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.

Testers: If you are not enrolled in a program or taking lessons from a trainer willing to administer the Public Access Test and provide ID on successful completion of the test, it is worthwhile to find a trainer who would administer The Public Access Test. You could recruit a local trainer certified through The National Association of Obedience Dog Instructors ( or the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers. ( ) ,or an obedience class instructor, or a Canine Good Citizen test evaluator. Trainers usually will charge a fee for their time. You might ask a colleague, in a pinch, to video tape the test and score it, for scoring is self explanatory. Have the tester sign and date it, then keep the test with your training logs in case of an access dispute someday.

Hopefully, this will help someone to determine the difference between a REAL Service Dog and a fraud.


  1. Good Morning, Jewel Jade!

    This is a very informative post! Thanks for presenting all these facts. It will really help me distinguish true and pseudo-Service Dogs in the future. I have bookmarked it so that I can refer to it in the future.

    Best wishes, I hope you and Jade are well!

    1. Thank you so much, Miss Margo! I thought it was important to get this information out there....I'm doing what I can. I really want people to be able to tell the difference between a real and a fake service dog. It's really important too that business owners know that they have rights too, and don't have to just "be quiet and take it" from these fake service dogs. Anyway, thank you for reading and taking time to comment.

  2. My knowledge of service dogs is limited Jewel, but if I saw a service daog barking or lunging at people, I would know right away that it wasn't a service dog. And if I was in a restaurant with my family, and a sevice dog was acting dangerously inside, I'd ask the staff to get the dog out. If they refused, I'd in turn refuse to pay my bill. Then it would cost them either way.

    I'd also like to share, that today as I walked my son to school. I saw a 2o year old girl walking a 6 month old pitbull with no muzzle. I never noticed how bad the pit bull problem was until my dog was killed by one.

  3. Excellent post Jewel! Don't remeber if I mentioned this to you before, I saw a REAL service dog when I was at the store. Some kind of doodle but as big as my Mastiff(though of course not weight wise). Coloring suggested a mix with GR but I thought how could it get that big! I turned and looked at hubby and said," I want one of those" He smiled and said, You're like a dang kid whenever you see a large dog".

    1. Thank you, Cinnamon...I too love seeing other service dogs out there helping people. THey are amazing, and selfless dogs, giving all of their love, and effort to help their handlers. I often check out the different breeds being used now days too. I've seen some HUGE poodles out there as well! I love it! Thanks for stopping by and sharing! I appreciate the feedback!

  4. Jim, You're right, some fake service dogs just make it way too obvious, don't they? I'm with you, if I see one acting like that in a restaurant or something, I'd ask the management to boot the dog out. I'd be right behind you if they didn't. When I'm out with my service dog, if we see another service dog team, and they have a pit bull, we go elsewhere. No sense in putting myself and my girl in any possible danger. You're right, you start to really realize how bad the pit bull problem is once something happens. RIP Max <3. Thank you for stopping by and commenting, Jim.

  5. I had our Irish Setter out with an old client the other day. I've known her for 20 years. Now our IS is 12 y and very he looks and acts older. I joked with a person who commented on his that he was her service dog(thinking of you as I said it). The guy looked at me and said, "well I think then the service dog needs his own service dog!" LOL

    1. LOL! That's great, Cinnamon! That made me think of a story I read before about a man's service dog who went blind and couldn't work for his handler anymore. He got another service dog, and the service dog then led the blind dog around, which I thought was just fantastic! I'll see if I can find that story again....maybe I'll blog on that one! Thanks!

  6. I read that story, or one like it! It was so neat to read. Very heartwarming.


  8. Must take alot of time and dedication to train a service dog.

  9. You just dont post any of my comments, none of them are rude or disrespectful

    1. Not true, Tay, I do post some of your comments, but not all. I don't post all of them, because it's the same old argument that we are all tired of having. You say pit bulls aren't inherently dangerous and we say they are. Same old argument. Sometimes it just gets old to keep having the same argument over and over. If you have new information, I'll post it.....if it's just the same old argument, "yes they they're not...." I won't bother.

      Thanks for all your feedback, but I don't just see why we should keep having the same argument. You feel the way you do, and we feel the way we do. That's about the size of it.

    2. What I have been saying lately is not what I have said before it is different with some of my own personal experience. I see that you continously post some other peoples comments and they always are saying the same things about pit bulls.
      Also just to get this clear, I think that all dogs CAN be dangerous, including small ones. Being inherently dangerous, my stand point on this is big dogs. Big dogs are strong and when full grown are very strong with bigger teeth, whether it be a pit bull or poodle. When you say pit bulls are inherently dangerous, yes I agree. They are big (more medium) strong dogs, but I also agree that labs, goldens, great danes, poodles and all of the other bigger stronger breeds are also inherently dangerous due to their size. Correct me if I am wrong but I think that when you said that pit bulls are inherently dangous you meant that they are just waiting to attack people...pretty much. And yes I know we have had this conversation before but you have many times stated that pit bulls OWNERS are a huge problem because they are not responsible for their dogs and dont care.
      I just wanted to make it clear to you one more time because the way you worded the "inherently dangerous" I may have just interpurtated it a different way but that is what I beleive and know from experience.

    3. Tay, the majority opinion on pit bulls is that they are "inherently dangerous," just as the new Maryland court ruling states. Most people know that pit bulls are dangerous dogs. Yes, meaning that they attack, maul, maim and kill more than all other types of dogs combined. That is a fact, it cannot be disputed. It's a fact by pure numbers.

      The term "inherently dangerous" is not the same as "having a potential to be dangerous." Yes, all large dogs have the potential to be dangerous. However, not all of them are "inherently dangerous." Inherently dangerous refers to how and why a dog is bred. What it's bred for. Again, ALL dogs were originally bred for a specific purpose, and you can deny it all you want, but pit bulls were bred for the purpose of fighting and killing...that is what makes them "inherently dangerous," meaning that it's in their genes and cannot be trained or loved out of them.

      Any large dog has the potential to be dangerous, but not all dogs are "inherently dangerous," that's the difference. It's not opinion, it's fact. Like I've said before, it doesn't mean you can't have a pit bull if you want, at least not yet, but since they are "inherently dangerous," you NEED to take the appropriate precautions so that no one gets hurt by your dog, regardless of how much of a "marshmallow" you say he is. Please see the most recent pit bull fatality. He thought his dog was a "marshmallow" too.

      I don't post every single comment, Tay, by anyone. I just get tired of having the same argument. Have you read the recent Maryland Court Ruling? I suggest you do.

      Thanks for commenting.

  10. Aggression is taught not inhereted. There are many studys that have been done to prove this which I have posted before but im sure I can post them again if you want. They are quiet interesting. I would say the phrase "inherently dangerous is very misleading and you should use something else such as inherently aggressive or something, although they are not that in real life.
    "but no city license and it's not neutered." Real responisble already. The article is short and Im not really sure what happened in the innocdent but what I can tell you and EVERY proffessional dog trainer will tell you is that dogs DO NOT attack and maul for no reason.
    I have read the things about Maryland and it is riduclous. The rescues and shelters that are dealing with these dogs everyday DO NOT think they should be ban, they ALL believe that each dog has their own personality and aggression is based on individual dogs not an entire breed. I am not sure how people can try to argue with this when these people are handling and seeing the behaviors of these dogs everday and they are not seeing and they really dont know anything about the breed beside the that the breed was breed for fighting.
    Also I went to an agility event last weekend and it was so fun to see all the different breeds competing with their owners/handlers who clearly loved them so much. I wish you were there to see how well behaved the pit bulls were, especially this one named Twinkie, she did AMAZING in her run, no mistakes. You should start to go to events like agility and obeidence and even dog shows becasue there you will surley find responsible people who love their dogs and you will most likely meet a WONDERFULL pit bull(because these dogs can literally be trained to do anything) who might just change your opinion on the breed a little bit. Serisouly I think you would really enjoy these competitions if you love dogs.