Service dogs are a great aid to someone with a disability. These animals can be trained to help you perform different daily tasks, help you with mobility, and let you know if you are about to have a medical crisis. It is important to understand that you cannot just put a vest on a dog and claim they are a service dog. However, it is possible to make your own dog a service dog. Here are a few things you need to know to make that happen.
A service dog needs to be trained to perform a duty or duties that will help you with the disability. In other words, if you have mobility issues, the dog must be able to pull a cart or wheelchair. If you have a service dog to warn you of a medical crisis, such as a drop in blood sugar for a diabetic, or a seizure for someone with epilepsy, the animal must be trained to recognize the warning signs, be it a smell, tremor, or another symptom. Generally, the training is going to require special classes and work with a professional trainer. In addition to being trained for its job, the dog must also be very well behaved. They must be able to ignore distractions, not beg, wait until outside and told to go to the bathroom, and sit quietly beside their handler. Be prepared to spend a lot of time working with your dog to ensure it will behave properly in public.
In the U.S., it is not required that a service dog be certified. However, it is best if you have the dog tested and certified. This will allow you to register them as a service animal with the American with Disabilities Act (ADA). While you cannot be asked to show any certification when entering a public establishment in the States, it might be needed if you ever travel outside the country. In addition, there are many people who claim their dog is a service dog to be able to take it shopping with them. Quite often, these dogs are not well-behaved and cause trouble in the public establishment, giving true service dogs a bad name. Knowing your dog is certified can give you a solid foundation if one of these other dogs tries to start something with your helper.
Keep in mind that a service dog is different than an emotional support animal. Service animals cannot be kept out of public places, but a support animal can be. Businesses can ask if your dog is a service animal and what task they are trained to do for you. If you cannot honestly answer those questions, you need to get your dog trained before taking it to any other public establishment.