Tips For Caring For An Older Dog

Your dog will always be a key part of your family, no matter how old he gets. However, when your furry friend is getting on in years you might need to adjust your lifestyle a little to accommodate your older dog.

Whether your dog is a senior or not will depend on its breed. A small dog like a terrier or chihuahua won’t be considered to be a pensioner until they reach the age of ten or twelve, however bigger breeds like Great Danes could be seniors at just 5 or 6. Not only does breed and size have an impact on your pup’s life expectancy, their genetics, environment and diet all have a role to play.

aged senior dog care

The good news is that modern medicine hasn’t only extended human lives, it can also help your dog to live a long, happy life too. As long as you give your fur baby the right preventative care and attention, your aging dog will have the longest and best life possible.

With that in mind, here are some tips for caring for your older dog.

Don’t Forget Your Pup’s Teeth

Caring for your dog’s dental hygiene couldn’t be more important at all stages of your dog’s life but particularly when they get old. Regularly brushing your dog’s teeth and getting them cleaned professional can guard against painful decay and dental disease. It’ll also help to avoid chewing problems that can lead to poor nutrition. If your pet isn’t keen on having his teeth brushed, you should consider toys that are designed for this purpose instead or dental treats which will keep your pet happy while also getting his teeth plaque free.

Caring For Your Dog’s Skin

As your dog ages they may develop more sensitivities. Their skin may be more easily damaged so switching to a hypoallergenic shampoo is good for your pets as they get older.

Eating Healthily

Just as humans have to watch what they eat, particularly as they get older, elderly dogs also often have problems with food. Some may struggle to chew, others lack appetite and some have digestive problems or may even be obese. Talk to your vet about how to choose the right exercise and diet plan for your older dog. You may need to adopt some dietary changes such as adding extra fiber into his diet to help improve digestion, or you may need to reduce carbohydrates so your pet can maintain a healthy bodyweight. You may also need to add supplements like glucosamine or fish oils into his diet to treat joint pain.

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Exercise For Mind And Body

As humans age, they struggle to perform physical activities. It’s the same with dogs. As they get older they may experience pain or find it hard to do the things they used to love. Exercise, however, is still vital to your dog’s well-being and health. Take your pet on gentle, short walks but take care to monitor his gait and breathing to ensure that everything is ok. Your dog’s mind also needs exercise. Food puzzles and other stimulating toys will help to keep your pet sharp.

Schedule Regular Vet Visits

You should take your older dog to the vet for a check up every six months. In the same way as older people have to take care with their health and see their doctor more frequently, older pets also benefit from more frequent vet visits. Old pets often need more examinations, dental treatment and blood tests. Some breeds are also more predisposed to developing certain conditions like diabetes, cancer, hip dysplasia and arthritis. Detecting these problems at an early stage will help to prevent them from becoming serious concerns.
older dog vet care

Make Your Home Suitable For An Older Dog

When you first brought your puppy home, you probably puppy-proofed it. Now your pet is older you’ll need to seniorize it. If your pet has joint problems or hip dysplasia you may need to put in some steps or a ramp so he can get into the car or onto the bed. Keep his water and food in an area that can easily be reached, particularly if they have sight problems. A heated bed could soothe their aching joints, particularly if you’re living in colder regions. Also, non-slip surfaces could protect against falls, helping your elderly dog to keep traction when getting up.

Pay Closer Attention

Always monitor any change in appetite, weight, behavior and dental problems as well as lesions, bumps or lumps which appear. Any changes you note should be reported to your vet.

Although it’s harder to care for your older dog, your lifelong companion will be by your side for the rest of his life, so it’s worth making a few small changes.

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Dog Safety & Pet Containment Systems

Our dogs are our family and most of us treat them like our children.  Guilty!  In loving them as much as we do, we want to protect them and keep them safe from harm.  Whether it is on the home front, throughout the daily routine, or out and about traveling, we want to ensure their safety.

There are plenty of pet containment systems available to aid in providing safety.  Ranging from wireless fences to traditional fences and all things in between, you will most likely be able to find something to best suit you and your family.

dog behind fence

Electronic Wired Fencing

One of the most popular pet containment systems is the electronic fence.  With installation, cables are buried underground and run the edge of the perimeter in any shape, forming an invisible boundary for your pet.  The cables also allow you to exclude areas of the property, to keep your dog away from certain things such as a pool or pond.

A base unit for the system operates electronically and can be placed anywhere on the property, as it has rugged characteristics and does not have to be kept indoors.  The unit uses a digital radio frequency signal to travel along the cable wires and works with your dog’s collar receiver.

Training flags are placed along the boundary to assist in training for your dog.  They are visible cues to let your dog know where the boundaries are.  If the dog goes beyond the boundary, he will receive a corrective stimulation on his collar.  The corrective stimulation is adjustable depending on the size and type of dog you have.

As far as safety for your dog when using this type of containment, it is not one hundred percent secure.  While it may provide a decreased chance of your dog getting out, there is still a chance that your pup can run through and disregard the electronic correction.  Other pests or predators cannot be kept out, which could potentially pose a threat.

Electronic Wireless Fencing

These types of fences allow owners to monitor their dog through a GPS (Global Positioning Systems) collar, by placing a transmitter in a central location, connected to the GPS.  The transmitter then gives off a signal that provides an invisible boundary for the dog.  Unlike the base for the wired fencing, this transmitter must be in an indoor location.

Shih Tzu In Yard Invisible Fence

Similar wireless systems do not need a transmitter, rather can create a boundary or invisible fence connected directly to the GPS collar.  Your dog can then learn the boundary areas, through training.  If he wanders outside of the boundary, he will receive a corrective stimulation through the collar.

There are several different types of GPS fence systems on the market.  Most of them only provide a circular boundary, covering only a certain amount of feet.  Some may see this as a negative if you are looking for more space for your dog to roam free.

Many of the GPS systems are designed to be completely portable so that you can easily travel with your pup.  This may be a nice alternative to the wired systems, for that reason.

Along with the wired electronic fencing, the wireless fencing cannot guarantee to keep your dog in the boundary; and will not be able to keep others out.

The wireless system may be prone to more outages as well, in comparison to the wired fencing.

Indoor Systems

Needing to keep your pup contained to a certain room, or away from the trash can?  The electronic GPS systems can work for this inside.  Some systems allow for the GPS collar to work with a boundary transmitter, marking off certain areas to keep your pet away from, or confined to, ranging from eight to ten feet.

Using this type of system would provide a good alternative to those child or pet gates that may be going up all over the house.   Although, the system is still operating like the outdoor ones in which the dog’s collar is connected to the frequency transmitter.  The dog could still find a way to disregard the corrective stimulation and go after what he wants.

Traditional Fencing

Wooden, wrought iron, vinyl, aluminum, and the list goes on.  Many options are available when you are looking at fencing in your yard the traditional way.  While fully fencing in your yard will be a more expensive route than others, it is going to create a little more security in the long run.

Most dogs adapt well to a fenced in yard.  If the fencing is high enough, you will not have to worry about them jumping over.  If digging is an issue, there are products designed to work in conjunction with your fence to prevent digging.  The products are steel rods which run down into the ground, protecting your pup from digging a way out or other pests from digging their way in.

A traditional fence is also going to keep predators such as coyotes, mountain lions, or other wildlife out.  However, in my case, this has not been full proof.  There is a snake that manages to sneak his way into my fenced in backyard.  Fortunately, he is not poisonous, so he gets a free pass.

Other Safety Factors

Regardless of the pet containment system you are thinking of, or currently using, keep in mind nothing is full proof.  Our dogs are instinctive animals, and simply put, animals.  Some of them can find their way out of any containment.

Certain precautions should be taken in addition to using pet containment systems.  Visually monitoring your pup even when he is outdoors in any type of fencing, is recommended.  Make sure your dog always has his ID tags on and visible.

Having a microchip can also be a lifesaver.  Our neighbors found a dog without any tags or ID and drove her to a local pet store where the store looked up her microchip.  They were able to contact the family and they were reunited within a few hours.  A happy ending that may not have happened otherwise.

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Is It Cruel to Ear Crop and Tail Dock a Dog?

Ear cropping and tail docking for dogs is usually considered to be cosmetic surgery for dogs. In other words, neither procedure is necessary for a dog’s health; it is simply done for appearance. These procedures used to be standard for certain breeds.

However, many owners are reconsidering having them done because they are unnecessary and may be considered cruel.

adult doberman pinscher dog

Which Dog Breeds Have This Done?

According to the American Kennel Club, there are as many as twenty breeds that routinely undergo this procedure. These are some of the most common breeds.

Ear Cropping

Tail Docking

  • Cocker Spaniels
  • Rottweilers
  • Boxers

The American Kennel Club estimates that there are 17 other breeds that undergo ear cropping and 62 other breeds that undergo tail docking in addition to the most common ones listed here.

Doberman pinscher baby natural ears
According to the Pet Health Network, these procedures served a useful purpose at one time. Cropped ears on guard breeds such as Great Danes and Dobermans prevented the ears from being ripped in a fight. Docked tails on hunting and herding breeds prevented injuries as the dogs performed their various functions. Over time, these breeds were used more for companionship rather than the purpose for which they were originally bred. So the necessity of these procedures are being questioned.

How Are These Procedures Performed?

The procedures are usually performed on very young puppies. Tail docking is performed without anesthesia when a puppy is only a few days old. Although the puppy feels pain, the rationale is that the puppy is so young that it will recover quickly. The vet uses scissors to cut off the tail to the desired length and then bandages the stump to prevent infection.

Ear cropping is a more complicated procedure which requires the use of anesthesia. The flap of the dog’s ear is removed and the ears are taped for several weeks to “train” them to remain upright. This procedure is typically performed on puppies that are six to twelve weeks old.

Why Are These Procedures Done?

As stated previously, at one time there was a practical purpose for these procedures. However, they have now become more cosmetic than practical. Several countries, including Australia and the United Kingdom have banned them altogether.

In the United States, the controversy is becoming more heated. This is partially due to the American Kennel Club’s stance on preserving the historical standards of the breeds. In fact, these procedures are still part of the AKC standards for these breeds even though they now say that dogs who have not had them done can still compete and win dog show competitions. However, many veterinarians in the United States are against the procedures and the American Veterinary Medical Association discourages the practice. Because of this, a few states are considering banning the procedures but none have done so at this time.

What Are the Pros and Cons?

As with any surgical procedure, there are health risks to consider. Young puppies who have these procedures are at increased risk for blood loss and infection of the surgical wounds. Futhermore, docked tails can develop nerve damage over time, which can cause pain and affect the dog’s temperment.

Tail docking can cause social issues as well. Dogs use a complex body language for social communication to other dogs. When the tail is docked, the dog may not be able to communicate effectively which may cause unwarrented aggression or fights with other dogs.

The only argument for tail docking is that it can prevent injuries for working dogs. Herding and hunting breeds who are active in their respective fields are prone to broken or sprained tails. However, dogs who are merely used for companionship rarely need to have the procedure done.

As far as ear cropping is concerned, there are more arguments against it than for it. Ear cropping in this modern age is done purely for cosmetic reasons rather than health concerns. The procedure exposes a young puppy with an immature immune system to the risk of infection. Also, there is no evidence that ear cropping reduces the risk of ear infections.


Companion and service dogs have no need for either of these procedures. There is no increased risk of injury or infection if they are not done and the procedures do not give any real benefit to the dog. Research also indicates that the perceived risk of injury for working or hunting breeds is unfounded.

Boston Terrier Ears Up

Therefore, these procedures are cosmetic and elective. The only motivation for them is to conform the dog’s appearance to a certain standard. When enough pressure is brought to bear on the dog show world, hopefully those standards will change and the procedures will be banned altogether. This is why many animal welfare associations are actively working to legalize a ban on these procedures in the United States and for cropped ears and docked tails to be removed from AKC standards.

Ultimately, every dog owner needs to research and decide what is best for their dog. However, the majority of evidence proves that not only are these procedures out-dated and unnecessary, they do inflict pain on young puppies and expose them to an increased risk of infection.

Because of this, ear cropping and tail docking could indeed be considered cruelty to dogs.

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Do Dogs Really Only See in Black and White?

Is it a myth?

Yes, it is a myth that dogs see only in black and white, but they don’t have quite the color vision of human beings. A dog relies on its sense of smell to give it the most information about the world. When a person takes their dog for a walk and the dog sniffs at eveyrthing, it is getting about as much information as a human would from reading the morning paper. A dog’s sense of smell must be as astonishing to humans as human vision would be astonishing to a dog.

Still, a dog’s eyes are very much like a human’s. It is a sphere made up of a cornea, vitreous chamber, lens, pupil and a retina at the very back of the eye. The retina is filled with structures called rods and cones. Cones allow the dog to see colors and bright light while rods allow the dog to see in low light.

Since humans and dogs are both predators and work in groups, their eyes are positioned in the front of the head, but some dog’s eyes are a bit more widespread. This gives them a wider field of vision as well as good depth perception. This helps the dog focus on potential prey and helps it see where the pack/tribe members are.

Dogs can see in the dark three times as well as a human because they have more rods than cones in their retinas.

They also have large pupils and a membrane called a tapetum lucidum beneath their retina, which enhances their ability to see in low light. Cats also have a tapetum lucidum, which we shall see. This membrane is why the eyes of both cats and dogs glow in the dark.

What colors do dogs see in?

Because dogs have more rods that cones in their retinas, they don’t see colors that well. They also have only two types of cones where humans have three. Dogs can probably see shades of blue, greens and yellows, but what humans experience as reds and oranges may elude them.

How do dogs see compared to people?

The three types of cones that humans have are sensitive to blue, red and green, and the two cones in dogs are sensitive to blue and a color between green and red, whatever it is. Dogs can’t focus as well on close items as human beings and would be considered quite nearsighted if they were human. Most dogs have about 20/75 vision, which is fairly bad! They don’t discriminate between shades of colors well either. A forest full of beautiful autumnal trees is a blurry, dull light green to a dog.

However, dogs have an advantage when it comes to motion detection. This is because of their better night vision and their ability to sense even the smallest prey moving in the duff. A drawback of their large pupils is that an image is sharp only in the center of the dog’s field of vision while everything to the side is fuzzy. This is an acceptable situation when a dog is running down a prey animal or a ball. Dogs can also see much farther than humans, especially if the object is moving. In one test, dogs were able to see a moving figure a half a mile away, and a stationery figure a little over a third of a mile away. Dogs are also better able to see flickering lights. When a person sits down to watch TV with their pooch or sneaks them into a movie theater the dog sees the film frame by very fast frame, while human eyes are tricked into thinking the film is one continuous experience. This flicker fusion frequency, as it is called, is another thing that helps the dog find small prey at night.

How do dogs see compared to cats?

The dog and cat eye are comparable in that they both have a nictitating membrane and a tapetum lucidum. The nictitating membrane is a transparent eyelid that keeps the animal’s eye clear as it hunts at night. It is also called the haw and allows the animal to keep its eyes open while it is hunting. Most dog owners don’t notice this third eyelid until the dog gets an infection called cherry eye. Cats and dogs also experience the same limited range of colors.

Though they have some things in common, dogs and cat vision is somewhat different. Cat’s can’t see as far away as dogs, but they are able to focus on close objects in the way the dog can’t, and their vision overall is much sharper. The cat’s night vision is much better than a dog’s, which is much better than a human’s. When exposed to bright light, the house cat’s pupils furl up into slits, a phenomenon not seen in dogs or humans. This not only protects the cat’s retinas but improves its depth perception.

Dog eyes also have a fovea, which is a pit in the center of retina that is full of cones. Instead of a fovea, a cat has a structure called a visual streak, which isn’t a pit or a point but a streak that is found across their retina. This makes them better able to detect movement in their peripheral vision.

But no one should feel sorry for cats and dogs because their vision isn’t as color-filled or sharp as a human’s. Their other senses, such as touch, taste and especially smell are much more acute than human’s, and tell them everything they need to know about the world.

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Why You Should Avoid Purchasing a Dog from a Puppy Mill

Puppy mills are large operations that focus primarily on breeding dogs without much attention being placed on the well-being of the dogs in question. There are many reasons as to why you should avoid purchasing a dog from a puppy mill and zero advantages towards doing so. Due to the breeding of these dogs without any regard to their health, these puppy mills often cause the production of breeds that have hereditary defects that go unchecked, which is one of the many reasons that you should consider adopting or purchasing a dog from a more reputable option.
cute english bulldog puppy in the grass

There are Dogs Shelters and Rescues

One of the primary reasons that you should avoid purchasing a dog from a puppy mill is that there are already too many dogs that you can find at dog shelters and via rescue groups that are treated humanely and will provide you with confidence that you’re adopting a dog that’s in good health and needs an owner. Purebred dogs can be found in these shelters and rescue centers, allowing you to find exactly what you’re searching for without needing to resort to a puppy mill.

You Might Get a Sick Puppy

When you wish to purchase or adopt a dog, you’re obviously going to be looking for one that’s healthy or at least has received adequate vet care. In most puppy mills, vet care is seen as an afterthought due to the rapidity at which these mills try to breed the animals that they bring in without putting much thought on actually caring for these dogs. Because of the lack of vet care that these dogs receive, you have a high potential to get a sick puppy, especially if the puppy mill has been in existence for a lengthy period of time.

The longer that a single puppy mill is breeding dogs, the more likely it is that future generations of puppies bred in these mills suffer from certain hereditary or congenital conditions. The reason that this occurs is because the majority of mill owners do not attempt to identify if some of their dogs are sick, which means that sick dogs will continue to breed with other dogs, heightening the chances that the puppy you obtain from one of these mills has some kind of disease.

Some of the more common hereditary conditions that these puppies may suffer from include:

  • Heart disease
  • Kidney disease
  • Anemia
  • Cataracts
  • Glaucoma
  • Disorders within the musculoskeletal system

Due to the lack of vet care provided to these dpgs, there’s also a chance that the one you purchase from a puppy mill has some form of disease. These diseases can include everything from infections in the upper respiratory system, pneumonia, ticks, fleas, diarrhea, and mange. When you adopt or purchase a puppy from a rescue group or shelter, it’s highly unlikely that they will have any type of disease or disorder, allowing you to avoid the many issues and expenses that can occur when the puppy is already sick.

Cruel Living Conditions

Along with the lack of vet care provided to the dogs kept at puppy mills, the living conditions in these mills are typically awful and can be very cruel to the dogs that are made to live and breed there. Although a small number of puppy mills are inspected and have generally decent living conditions, the majority do not. Dogs are usually kept in very crowded conditions alongside other dogs at the mill. These conditions are dirty and unsanitary, while the dogs kept inside these mills do not receive any kind of treats or toys.

Most dogs will not be provided with enough food and water and usually go without standard grooming techniques or even exercise. When a dog is placed into a puppy mill, they are typically kept in a steel cage, sometimes with other dogs. These cages are often dangerous for dogs as the rough flooring can cause the development of injuries in the legs and paws of the dog. The dogs bred at puppy mills are also kept from socializing in a normal manner, which means that they can have behavioral issues once they have been purchased and taken to a home.

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Breeding Females Treated Poorly

One of the more horrifying aspects of puppy mills is that breeding females are almost always treated very poorly, wherein they are bred as often as possible. Since the majority of puppy mills are focused on boosting their profits, this means that breeding females are given hardly any time to recover before being bred again. When these female dogs no longer have the strength necessary to continue breeding, they are usually killed. In many cases, records aren’t kept, which means that the owners of the puppy mill have no idea how many times that a female dog has produced litters.

Are There Reputable Breeders?

If you feel as though you simply must go through a breeder in order to obtain a specific breed of dog, it’s important that you at least purchase a dog at a reputable breeder. If you’ve never gone through this process before, it may seem difficult to know where to start when trying to find a breeder that treats their dogs well. First of all, never purchase a dog online, as the majority come from a puppy mill. You want to see where the dog comes from, which should clue you in to how the dog has been treated.

Breeders who are responsible will never sell a dog to someone that they have never met in person, as they aim to make sure that the dog is being provided with a home that will take care of them. Also make sure to ask to see the dog’s mother to make sure that they are healthy and are being treated well. Don’t hesitate to ask the breeder questions, as a readiness to answer these questions indicates that the breeder is reputable. A great place to find reputable breeders is at dog shows.

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How Do You Crate Train a Puppy?

Crate training relies on your puppy’s natural instinct as a den animal. It is a safe place for them to escape and sleep. The caution with crate training a puppy is that they shouldn’t be left in it for too long. A puppy can only hold their bladder for so long before an accident is inevitable. The main purpose behind crate training is for housebreaking your puppy. Meaning that you want to train them to not relieve themselves in the house or destroy your home while you are gone. A crate will not solve all of your puppy problems. Use it in conjunction with other training methods. Here are the steps to crate train your puppy.
Pound Puppy
  1. Select a crate that is of the correct size for your puppy. Your puppy should be able to stand up and turn around inside the crate. You may want to purchase a crate that will accommodate the size that your puppy will be as an adult. Many people choose to purchase a smaller crate in the beginning and then upgrade to a larger one later on. There are different types of crates available. Determine if you are planning on using the crate long-term or just for training. This will dictate the type of crate that you purchase.

  1. Introduce your puppy to the crate in a place where you spend a lot of time. Put comfortable bedding material inside the crate. You want to create a welcoming environment that your puppy can explore. Either remove the door or secure it in the open position. If your puppy if hesitant to enter the crate, try putting a treat inside or their favorite toy. Be positive when encouraging your puppy into the crate. Don’t force your puppy into the crate. You want your puppy to associate the crate with good things. Allow your puppy to go in and out as they choose. The point of this exercise is to familiarize your puppy with their new den.
  1. Serve your puppy their meals in the crate. This allows them to associate the crate with a place of safety and somewhere that they want to spend some time. Leave the door open in the beginning. As your puppy becomes more comfortable with the crate, try closing the door. Once they have finished eating, allow them to come out. With each meal that they have in the crate, leave the door closed for a few minutes longer. If your puppy starts to whine, don’t open the door immediately. Train them that they have to stop whining to be let out. If you let them out every time that they whine, you are teaching your puppy that whining is the key to the door being opened.

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  1. Once your puppy is comfortable with the crate, try putting them in it when it is not meal time. Teach them the command to go to their kennel or even their bed. Give them a treat when they willing enter the crate. Give them excessive praise as you close the door. Sit near the crate for about ten minutes without saying anything. Your puppy may whine in the beginning. Once they have calmed down, leave the room. You only want to be gone for five minutes the first time. Come back into the room and sit next to the crate for a few minutes. Let your puppy out of the crate once they have stopped whining. Repeat this process until your puppy is able to stay in the crate calmly for thirty minutes without you being in the room. In the beginning, only leave your puppy in the crate for short intervals of time.

  1. Once your puppy has mastered the ability to stay in the crate for thirty minutes, it is safe to leave them in the crate while you are out of the house. Use the same training method each time. Let your puppy know that you are leaving and then go. Don’t draw out this process. Make sure that your puppy will not be left alone for more than a couple of hours. They are still young and can only hold it for so long. You can now start to crate train your puppy at night. Move their crate near your bed and put them in it at night. This is so you can get up with your puppy at night to let them relieve themselves. Once they are sleeping through the night, you can move the crate to another location if you wish.

A crate should never be used for punishment. This will cause your puppy to associate their crate with negative emotions. Another thing to remember is that your puppy may be whining because they need to relieve themselves. Say the phrase that they associate with going outside. If they get excited, take them outside. Crate training will take time and patience.

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How to Get Your Dog Service Certified

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) defines a service animal as “a dog that has been individually trained to do work or perform tasks for an individual with a disability.” It also says that the tasks must be directly related to the person’s disability. This means that a service dog is trained to help with specific things that the individual is unable to do because of their disability. For example, a blind person may need the dog to lead them, or a person with seizures may have a dog trained to alert them when a seizure is about to happen.
service dog for the blind

For those with service dogs, these dogs must be available to them at all times. This includes when they go out to various public facilities and stores. All facilities are required to allow service dogs, regardless of the type of business. This includes restaurants and medical facilities, as these dogs are necessary for the disabled person to function in their daily lives.

Some service dogs are certified by the facility that trained them to help the individual. There are many groups that offer service certification for these types of dogs, as well. Services, such as The United States Service Dog Registry, offers a free registry for service dogs. This allows a person to conveniently add their service dog to a registry where they can be looked up by anyone to verify their validity. Vests and cards can also be purchased for the pet to make them more easily identified when entering a business.

Is there an official certification or recognized governing body?

No, there is not an official certification or recognized governing body for the certification of service dogs. It is not required by federal law to have a dog service certified. It is also not required to have a dog trained by a specific trainer or company. As long as the dog is trained to perform its task and is able to behave in a public setting, they are permitted to be in any area the disabled person is in.

There is no current requirement to have a service dog certified due to the further complications it could bring to a disabled person. It is believed that a disabled person faces enough challenges in their daily life that a required certification could bring undo hardships to those with a disability that requires a service dog. They could be limited in their ability to perform their daily tasks due to a lengthy registration process, as well as open them up to more questions and complications when taking their service dog to various facilities.

What is the difference between a service animal and an emotional support animal?

Service animals perform a specific task for the disabled person. Emotional support animals provide comfort being with a person. Emotional support animals are not given the same protection to be in public areas. Some state and local governments do allow people to take emotional support animals into public areas, however, they are not federally required to do so. There are requirements, however, that allow emotional support animals to be allowed in homes, even no pet rental units. They are also allowed on planes and other travel accommodations, as well as hotels and other lodgings.

Where can you take a service animal?

You can take a service animal anywhere. This includes any public area, school, restaurant, grocery store, and even medical facilities, such as hospitals. However, the handler is responsible for all care and supervision of the service animal. The only limitation is when there are two service animals and the facility cannot safely accommodate both. For example, a small restaurant may limit the guest to one service animal, only if, only one dog can safely sit under the table and the other would have to remain in the walkway. Even hospitals are required to allow service animals for patients as long as the dog is cared for during the stay.

According to the ADA, these facilities are only allowed to ask two questions concerning the service dog.

  • Is the dog a service animal required because of a disability?
  • What work or task has the dog been trained to perform?
flying with a dog

The staff is not allowed to ask any questions pertaining to the disability, nor are they allowed to request documentation or a demonstration of that task.

Can I get my dog certified if I do not have a disability?

No. Service dogs are specifically for those with a disability. They provide a specific task to help lessen the burden of their disability on their daily activities. Although it is possible to get the certification at some less than legitimate sites, it would require lying about such disability and fraudulently taking advantage of laws established to protect the disabled.

Does abusing the system harm those that truly need a service animal?

Yes. First and foremost, these service animals provide a method for disabled people to do things they would otherwise be unable to do. The laws surrounding service animals were put into effect to minimize the complications a disabled person faces on a daily basis. By abusing the system, it dismisses the fact that those in need of service dogs have a legitimate disability that those abusing the system do not have. It can often feel like they and their disability are not taken seriously.

Secondly, it can make things more complicated for the disabled person and their service dog to enter various facilities and businesses. If a person abusing the system takes their pet into these establishments and their pet is not trained to behave, it can create complications for the business. This can lead to the business trying to weed out offenders and often causing more complications for the disabled.

It could also create a need to create a real registry for service animals. This can increase costs and accessibility for the disabled to get and utilize a service animal. It can also create more complications and embarrassment at establishments when they are required to go into detail about their disability and service animal.

Service dogs are not a “perk” for the disabled. They are necessary helpers to allow an individual to perform many of the tasks they may not be able to do without the service animal. Many of the things most people take for granted are limited in those with disabilities. A disabled person cannot do many of the things those without disabilities can do. A service dog helps to provide a bridge for them to be more independent and able to enjoy their life.

Further Reading

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