Common Challenges for Service Dog Handlers

The most common challenge for service dog handlers is what to do when an establishment denies a dog access. First, make sure that you are in compliance with the law. It sounds silly to even state this, but I’ve seen a lot. For example, not all states support a service dog in training (SDiT) for public access. If the dog is being disruptive, they can ask you to remove the dog. The dog can’t be off leash.

The Most Common Challenges for Service Dog Handlers

  • You may have to educate businesses that don't know the law. You can carry business-card-size handouts if you struggle with confrontation. Unfortunately, people with invisible disabilities are questioned more often than me. I have both visible and invisible disabilities.
  • It’s unnerving to get questioned — plain and simple. These challenges for service dog handlers are troubling. But it helps to prepare for those situation ahead of time.
  • Corporate businesses question me more often than mom-and-pop shops. My most recent “confrontation and demand for paperwork” occurred in a well-known restaurant chain. I explained the law to the manager and I also contacted the corporate office afterwards.
  • Document everything. Every time I work a dog in public, the dog is wearing a GoPro camera. The GoPro isn’t necessary, but it is very useful for documentation.

Other Challenges

Another common challenge service dog handlers encounter is people talking to their service dog. I personally have the most issues when a vest is decorated. People don’t always read what is written on a vest, collar or leash. Other examples are poodles with a different haircut, or colored hair, or uncommon breeds. Things like these most definitely draw more attention. Understand that you may need to ask people to not distract your dog more often, than you would otherwise.

ID Cards, Certificates, and so on

Certificates, ID cards, papers, or documentation are NOT requirements. Wearing a vest is also not  a requirement. according to the ADA, the only requirement is, that the dog performs at least one task to mitigate your disabilities. The problem with showing fake and unnecessary ID cards and/or irrelevant registries is, it will be a bigger challenge for the next service dog handler.  They may be questioned if they don't have those fake papers.

If you have questions regarding service dogs and/or are looking to work with me, go here to get started.

Based out of Riverside County, we currently offer local Service Dog Training in the following areas: Riverside County, Orange County, San Bernardino County, Los Angeles County and San Diego County. We offer Service Dog board and train and all coaching services nationwide.

Contact Sarah here for scheduling a consultation to discuss how she can help you best.

2 Responses

  1. I am looking to get our 8 month old Labradoodle puppy trained as my daughter’s emotional suppprt dog or service dog- not yet sure which. Mozart was granted to my daughter by the Make - A- Wish foundation in the middle of the organization decision to discontinue granting service dogs. Mozart has graduated from puppy boot camp and is ready to pass his good citizen. He is from a line of service dogs from No. California. My biggest hope is that he can be trained to be a calming influence on my daughter autistic like behavioral that often keep her in an agitated state. I am looking for a good match in the next step of his training. Loving Mom to Lexie Mariah Cuddy
    • I am more than happy to setup a consultation for any additional questions that you may have.

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