How To Act Around An Assistance Dog

  • Speak to the handler and not to the dog.
  • It is fine to smile and make a short comment to the handler about their dog such as what a nice looking dog they have.
  • Do not try to stop the handler while they are going about their shopping or attending to business. Would you do this to someone without a dog?
  • If you are in a situation where speaking would be a normal course of events then it is fine to ask a question about Assistance Dogs in general.
  • Do not ask ask personal questions of the handler such as what is their disability.
  • If the handler does not wish to speak about their dog or hold a conversation do not be offended. They may be having a bad day, may have their mind on personal matters, tired or not feeling well – just like anyone else.
  • Do not try to get the dog’s attention by calling to it.
  • There is no reason to touch or pet the dog – it has a job to do.
  • Do not try to give a treat to the dog.
  • If you have your dog with you and are near an Assistance Dog Team, do not let your dog try to interact with the Assistance Dog either by trying to play with, bark, or make eye contact with the Assistance Dog.
  • If you are near a visually impaired handler and you have your dog with you, let the handler know of your location such as you are passing them or sitting near them.

Video Activity

ADAP is having a fundraiser to purchase small video cameras that will be loaned out to members of our team and certain clients so that they can video sessions with their current Assistance Dogs, video training sessions with their dogs who are being owner trained, or to help them in fundraising for new dogs.

To send a check or money order (make out to Karl’s Kids Program) and put Video Activity on memo/note area.

Mail to: Assistance Dog Advisory Project / Karl’s Kids Program, Inc. / P.O. Box 1989 / Interlachen, FL 32148.

To send a fully tax deductible contribution via PayPal:    OR click on our PayPal Button.

Any collected donations earmarked for this activity that are in excess of the funds needed for these cameras will be used for mailing costs to loan these cameras, maintenance or for others costs to assist in the making of their videos such as supplies for backgrounds or to edit their material.

Karl’s Kids is in the process of setting up a YouTube Channel where these videos can be shown.



Dogs Owned by a PWD

Only a person with a legal disability may use an Assistance Dog out in the community. Every dog that is owned by a PWD is not an Assistance Dog.

Legally disabled owner plus dog equals pet. Legally disabled owner plus obedience trained, well-mannered and friendly dog equals nice pet that is safe to take to places where pets are allowed.

Legally disabled owner plus dog individually trained to mitagate owner’s disability, trained in obedience, well-mannered and safe to use in the public equals Assistance (Service) Dog.

Training For An Assistance Dog Instructor

A week ago I was asked if there was somewhere to go to learn to be an Assistance Dog Trainer. The place that I have heard the most recommendations for is Bergin University of Canine Studies located in CA.

They are recognized by the U.S. Dept. of Education, the California Bureau of Private Post Secondary Education, accredited by Assistance Dogs International, Inc., and offer Federal Student Aid.

Bergin University of Canine Studies Website

Some Things To Consider For Owner Training

Know the Federal and your state’s laws — if you go through a reputable program they will take the time to go over these with you. Owner Trainers have this responsiblity to do themself.
~ Federal Law does not cover SDITs
~ Some states cover owner training and give limited rights, other states do not acknowledge owner training.
~ Some states do not acknowledge PSDs but do other SDs.

If you do not have experience in selecting working candidates/service dog candidates then you really need the help of someone that does. One of the main reasons an owner trained SD does not make it and needs to be washed from training is because it was not a suitable choice. So it is always advisable to let an expert pick the candidate for you.

On the training end:
Training a SD is not the same as training a pet dog.
If someone wants to train their own dog it is best to do so under the guidance of a reputable and experienced SD trainer. Just as with owners, not all trainers can train a SD as their training is more advanced then that of a pet dog.

There are three parts to training a SD:
1) Obedience
2) Public Access
3) Tasks

Owner Trainers should keep very detailed Training Logs.

The average time to train a SD is between 18 and 24 months.

Meet Domino

On Monday Domino came for his first day visit. It was somewhat last minute, and I became extremely nervous about having a puppy in the house. I went on a manic ‘puppy proof my house’ and threw everything in the bedroom that might remotely be chew worthy.

Read this charming story of one of our ADAP clients and the puppy that may someday become her working partner and companion.  Meet Domino

Owner Trained Dogs, Underlevels

Assistance Dog Candidate: Puppies or dogs that are being taught the basics such as housebreaking and basic manners in the home. Undergoing health checks and getting age appropriate vet work. Evaluations on the suitability of the dog that were done when choosing a candidate continue at this time. Puppy and Beginning Obedience training should be completed during this time.

A dog being trained as an Assistance/Service Dog is not a rehab project. If a dog shows people or dog aggression or show shyness or fear when around people acting in a normal manner then the dog should not be elevated from the candidate level.

Assistance Dog-In-Training (ADIT): Novice and Advanced Obedience training should be given. Dog should have some type of evaluation to check progress.

Advanced health checks such as hip, back, and elbow exrays should be taken and evaluated and also complete eye and heart evaluations. Breed specific health tests should also be done during this time.

A dog that is not reliably housebroken should never go into the public as an ADIT. Until they are housebroken, walk nicely on a leash, and show good public manners they should only be going to places where pets are welcomed. It is very important that the candidate not be allowed to form bad habits out in the community at this time. Any dog before going out into the public as an ADIT should be able to pass the AKC Canine Good Citizen evaluation.

Some states give owner trainers the same rights as a professional trainer in taking their dog into a non-pet allowed place of business. This right is only to be used while actively training such as taking your dog to a store and having him walk nicely by a cart and going through a check-out line. While training the object is to keep a close eye on the dog and know what needs more work done with the dog. This is not the time to take the dog to do your weekly grocery shopping or sitting through a concert. Training sessions are just that — sessions that the owner is teaching and not just passively taking the dog with them out into the public.

A dog that is going to be worked in the public should be able to pass (with no problems) a temperament test such as given by the American Temperament Test Society, Inc.

Until an ADIT is qualified to meet all of the above (and of course taught tasks to mitigate the owner’s disability) it is not ready to advance to an active Assistance Dog status.

And also, until a dog is able to pass a PAT given by a reputable trainer/evaluator it should not be used outside of the an Assistance Dog.

An owner trainer needs to be aware that at any level or stage of training they may have to wash their dog out of training and that their dog may never make it to the advanced level that is needed. Emotion, time spent, and money spent on training and having to remove their dog is a risk that is taken by owner training and one that all OTs face as a possibility



Legally Certified Assistance Dogs

What does this title mean? Is there legally such a status?

Legally Certified – Yes, in the sense that it is not against the law to “Certify” a dog as an Assistance or Service Dog if you are the individual or the representative of the agency that tested the dog to meet a particular standard of requirements.

Legally Certified – No, in the sense that there are no Federal laws or Federal agency which require certification or even have testers or facilities to do certifications.

Then why do some people go out of their way to purchase fake certifications and ID?

  • One huge reason is the ease in purchasing these items for an unsuitable dog.
  • Another is because the owner wants to take their pet dog with them into non-pet locations.



Documentation or Certification in FL

The 2010 Florida Statutes(including Special Session A)

413.08 Rights of an individual with a disability; use of a service animal; discrimination in public employment or housing accommodations; penalties.—

From (3)(a):

Documentation that the service animal is trained is not a precondition for providing service to an individual accompanied by a service animal. A public accommodation may ask if an animal is a service animal or what tasks the animal has been trained to perform in order to determine the difference between a service animal and a pet.