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Your Options

So, you think you want a service dog? 


You are taking the first steps in your service dog journey: RESEARCH! Learning as much as you can about service dogs and your options is a great way to explore what you want and what questions to ask. We commend you for that! 

One of our core principles is education and we are committed to empowering everyone by providing information, even if that helps you decide that we are not the right program for you.

Below you will find some information that might help you on your way!

What is a Service Dog?


The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) defines a service dog as "dogs that are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities" (

The ADA further states that "[s]ervice animals are working animals, not pets. The work or task a dog has been trained to provide must be directly related to the person’s disability. Dogs whose sole function is to provide comfort or emotional support do not qualify as service animals under the ADA" (

What do Service Dogs do?

Service dogs are trained to perform work or tasks for their disabled handler. These tasks allow their handler to enjoy the places that you go and the things you do on a daily basis with an experience closest to that of anyone else as possible. Some examples of tasks that service dogs do to help their handler include:

  • Opening and closing doors

  • Picking up dropped items

  • Alerting to changes in vitals

  • Alerting to future changes in vitals

  • Finding and retrieving medications

  • Stopping repetitive behaviors

  • Alerting to alarms or other noises

  • Calming their handler by applying deep pressure

  • Finding exits

  • Providing balance assistance

  • Providing forward momentum assistance

  • Waking handler from night terrors

For a more detailed list, please reference IAADP's Assistance Dog Task List written by Joan Froling. 

What is a task? 

"The dog must be trained to take a specific action when needed to assist the person with a disability. For example, a person with diabetes may have a dog that is trained to alert him when his blood sugar reaches high or low levels. A person with depression may have a dog that is trained to remind her to take her medication" (


"...unless the animal is individually trained to do something that qualifies as work or a task, the animal is a pet or support animal and does not qualify for coverage as a service animal. A pet or support animal may be able to discern that the individual is in distress, but it is what the animal is trained to do in response to this awareness that distinguishes a service animal from an observant pet or support animal" (


"It is the fact that the animal is trained to respond to the individual's needs that distinguishes an animal as a service animal. The process must have two steps: Recognition and response" (

Ongoing Costs of Owning a Service Dog

Service Dog Role-Related Considerations


Service dogs may not be a good addition to everyone's treatment plan. Below are some responsibilities and common features that come with choosing to use a service dog; these can be viewed as pros or cons depending on your own situation.

  • Maintaining and monitoring the welfare of a dog

  • Financial responsibility (around $350.00 a month is a good guesstimate!)

  • Increased public interaction

  • Extra clean up (shedding, soiling, etc.)

  • Keeping up on a dog's daily body budget on your best and worst days

    • food​

    • water

    • exercise

      • physical​

      • mental

    • relieving 

Life with a Service Dog


Could you commit to the following for care of a service dog?:

  • Recommended Food & Water

  • Crate & Clean Sleeping Area

  • Veterinary Care

  • Insurance 

  • Heart Worm Medicine

  • Flea/Tick Control

  • Emergency Care

  • Treating the dog as a working dog and NOT a pet?

  • NOT allowing strangers to pet the dog without permission?

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