Service Dogs – What you need to know (and why you should NEVER pat them)!

A service dog is a trained dog that assists people with disabilities, such as blindness or deafness. Find out what you need to know about service dogs, and why you should never pat them.


You may have seen people out and about with service dogs and wondered what they do. Wonder no more! Service dogs assist those who need it, whether a disability or an illness. They are professionally trained to help their owners in various ways, such as opening doors, retrieving objects, or providing emotional support.

It’s important to remember that these dogs are working when they are out in public, so please don’t distract them or try to pat them. This can be dangerous for both the dog and the owner. Read on to learn more about these amazing animals and what they do!

What Is A Service Dog?

A service dog is a specially trained animal that assists people with disabilities. People with visual or mobility issues commonly use these animals. Still, they can help those with other conditions affecting daily activities, like epilepsy, diabetes, PTSD, and spinal cord injuries.

There are laws in both the US and Australia that protect the rights of those with service animals to access public places without discrimination. These laws are essential because they help ensure that people with disabilities have the same opportunities as everyone else.

Service dogs
A service dog is a specially trained animal that assists people with disabilities.

What Do Service Dogs Do?

Service dogs are specially trained to help disabled people with major life activities or tasks they cannot do for themselves. This could be anything from picking up dropped objects, opening doors, or providing balance and stability when walking.

Depending on the person’s needs, service animals can be trained to perform specific tasks. For example, service dogs can be trained to press an emergency button, retrieve items or offer mobility assistance by pulling a wheelchair. They can also be prepared to alert their owner to oncoming traffic or an intruder in the home.

For disabled individuals, they can be emotional support animals by providing a vital link between them and the outside world, giving them the independence to live their life to the fullest.

What Breeds Are Trained To Be Service Dogs?

There is no definitive answer to this question as service dogs can be of any breed, depending on the individual needs of the person’s disability that they are assisting. However, some breeds have certain traits that make them more suitable for service work than others.

For example, Labrador Retrievers and Golden Retrievers are often used as service dogs because they are intelligent, gentle, and easy to train. German Shepherds, Border Collies and Standard Poodles are famous for service dog training.

Organizations usually breed service dogs. These organizations have strict trained service dog programs that the dogs must undergo before being placed with a person. After the dog has been bred and trained, they are matched with a person with a disability to provide support.

Service dogs
Service dogs can be of any breed, depending on the individual needs of the person’s disability that they are assisting.

How Do You Qualify For A Service Dog In Australia?

There are several ways to qualify for a service dog in Australia, the most common being through an organization such as the Australian National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) or a government-funded program like Commonwealth Rehabilitation Service (CRS). To qualify through the NDIS, you must meet the eligibility criteria for the scheme and have an assessment with an accredited service dog provider. The provider will help you choose the best service dog and create a training plan if you are eligible. Service dogs must undergo extensive training with their provider before being placed with an individual.

The other primary way to qualify for service dog certification is by having a verifiable disability that necessitates using a service dog and a doctor’s recommendation. Furthermore, the individual must be able to train and care for the service dog. Additionally, certain restrictions exist regarding what type of dog can be certified as a service animal.

How Long Do Service Dogs Spend In Training?

Service dogs undergo an intensive training process that can last anywhere from 6 to 18 months. This training is necessary to prepare them for the various tasks they will be required to perform in their role as service dogs. The length of training will depend on factors such as the complexity of the required tasks and the age and learning ability of the dog. In some cases, it may take up to two years to fully train service dogs. This lengthy training period ensures that the dog is well-prepared to perform their vital job duties and provides them with a strong foundation of obedience and socialization skills.

Many service dog organizations recommend that handlers start training their dog as soon as they receive them. This helps handlers and their dogs bond and get used to each other. It can also help handlers to understand better the kind of work their dog does for them. Regular training sessions should be carried out throughout the dog’s working life to ensure that the dog can perform its tasks correctly and consistently.

Service dogs
Service dogs undergo an intensive training process that can last anywhere from 6 to 18 months.

 Steps To Train A Service Dog

Most service dog training programs start with socialization. This helps the dog get used to being around people and other animals. The dog must be comfortable in various environments as they must work in many places. Socialization also helps the dog learn how to behave appropriately around people.

After socialization, the dog will start learning basic obedience commands. These commands include sit, stay, down, come, and heel. Obedience training is essential as it helps the dog to listen to and follow its handler’s commands. The dog will also need to learn how to respond to verbal and hand signals.

The next stage of training is task training. In this stage, the dog is taught to perform specific tasks to assist its handler. Task training can take a long time to complete depending on the complexity of the required tasks.

Service dogs must be able to complete their tasks with high precision. To ensure this, they undergo rigorous testing before they are allowed to work with their handlers. These tests help assess the dog’s skills and abilities and ensure they are up to the task.

“A dog is like a person, he needs a job and a family to be what he’s meant to be”

Andrew Vachss

How Much Does A Service Dog Cost?

The cost of a service dog can vary greatly depending on the organization that breeds and trains the dog. Some organizations charge less than $15,000, while others may charge upwards of $50,000. The specific tasks required of the dog will also affect the price. Most organizations encourage handlers to pay as much as they can afford, but many offer payment plans to help reduce the cost for owners who cannot pay the total price of a dog upfront.

Animal organizations have various sources of income, including donations, bequests, and government grants. They also charge fees (often called “boarding fees”) to cover the cost of feeding, housing, and caring for the dogs during their stay. Some organizations also charge for veterinary care and training supplies.

Are Service Dogs Allowed Everywhere?

No, service dogs are not allowed everywhere. In Australia, there are laws in place that protect the rights of people who need to use service dogs. These laws state that service dogs must be allowed into all public areas, including shops, restaurants, hotels, and government buildings. Service dogs are also allowed on public transport, including buses, trains, and planes. The only exceptions to these rules are if the service dog is not well-behaved or if its presence poses a health or safety risk.

Service dogs are allowed in most public places in Australia. There are, however, some places where they are not allowed. These places include swimming pools, spas, and saunas. Service dogs are also not allowed in areas where food is prepared, such as kitchens in restaurants. This is to prevent the dog from coming into contact with food that may contain allergens.

If you are unsure whether your service dog is allowed in a particular place, it is best to check with the business or organization beforehand. This will help to avoid any potential problems.

Why Should You Never Pat A Service Dog?

It is important to never pat a service dog without asking the handler first. Service dogs are working animals and should not be distracted while working. Service dogs are carefully trained to perform specific tasks for their handlers.

They undergo rigorous testing to ensure that they are up to the task. Patting a service dog can break its concentration and cause it to make mistakes. It can also be distracting for the handler and put them in danger. Additionally, some service dogs may be uncomfortable with being touched by strangers. Asking the handler before you pet the dog will help ensure that you and the dog are comfortable with the interaction.

Service dogs
A service dog is individually trained to perform tasks for a person with a disability. while an emotional support animal (ESA) can also help with various mental health issues like depression, anxiety and loneliness.

What Is The Difference Between A Service Dog And Emotional Support Dog?

1.   Role

A service dog is individually trained to perform tasks for a person with a disability. These tasks could be picking up dropped items, providing stability for someone who has difficulty walking or alerting a deaf person to the sound of an approaching train or fire alarm.

In addition to offering companionship, treating loneliness, and reducing depression, anxiety, and phobias, an emotional support animal (ESA) can also help with various mental health issues. They do not perform specific tasks as service dogs do. Both types of dogs can improve the quality of life for their owners, but it’s essential to know the difference between them before committing.

2.   Allowed In Public

Service dogs are allowed in public places, such as restaurants and stores. Emotional support dogs are not typically allowed in public areas because they have not been trained to perform specific tasks.

Service dogs must be well-behaved in public and are usually required to wear a vest or other type of identifier that indicates their status. Emotional support dogs do not have to meet this same level of training, but it is recommended that they have some basic obedience training.

3.   Registration

Service dogs must be registered with a national organization. Emotional support dogs are not required to be registered, but some states have their registration process.

4.   Cost

Service dogs can cost thousands of dollars to purchase and train. Emotional support dogs typically do not need to be prepared and can be obtained for free or at a low cost from animal shelters or rescue organizations.

“Service dogs raise their masters’ sense of well-being”

Al Franken

Can You Train Your own Service Dog?

Yes, you can train your service dog, but it’s essential to make sure that you are up for the challenge. Service dogs provide an invaluable service to their handlers; training takes time, patience, and energy. If you’re unsure whether or not you’re ready to take on the responsibility of training a service dog, it’s best to consult a professional. There are many reputable service dog training programs out there that can help you get started.

One of the most important things to keep in mind when training your service dog is to ensure that the dog is well-suited for the job. Not all dogs have the temperament or the ability to be a service dogs. Service dogs need to be calm, obedient, and intelligent. They also need to have a strong bond with their handler. If you’re not sure whether or not your dog has what it takes to be a service dog, there are temperament tests that can help you make a decision.

How Many Service Dogs Can One Person Have?

There is no limit to the number of service dogs one can have, but it’s important to consider whether you can handle more than one. Service dogs require a lot of time and attention, so it’s essential to ensure that you can provide adequate care for multiple dogs.

“Dogs do speak, but only to those who know how to listen”

Orphan Pamuk, My name is Red

How Do I Make My Dog A Service Dog?

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, as the process of making your dog a service dog will vary depending on the specific needs of the handler. However, there are some general steps that you can follow:

 1.   Choose the Right Dog

Choosing a service dog with the right temperament and personality is crucial since not all dogs are suitable for this type of work.

 2.   Start Training Dog As Early As Possible

The earlier you start training your dog, the better. Service dogs need extensive training to be effective, so it’s essential to begin the training process as early as possible.

3.   Get Professional Help

Training a service dog is challenging, so getting professional help is vital if you’re unsure how to proceed. A reputable trainer will have experience with service dogs and be familiar with the specific tasks your dog will need to perform.

 4.   Be Prepared To Put In The Time And Effort

Training a service dog takes a lot of time and effort. You must be prepared to commit time and energy to ensure your dog is adequately trained.

 5.   Have Realistic Expectations

Service dogs are not perfect and will make mistakes from time to time. Having realistic expectations and understanding that your dog will not be ideal is essential.

Service dogs
It is important to never pat a service dog without asking the handler first as they should not be distracted while working.


Service dogs are amazing creatures that perform vital roles in our society. They provide invaluable assistance to people with disabilities and promote independence and social inclusion. However, it is essential to remember that service dogs are working animals and should never be disturbed while working. If you see a service dog in your community, take the time to learn about the animal and its handler, and always ask before you pat it.

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