A dog truly is man’s best friend- and woman’s best friend. There is something calming and uplifting about an animal that wants nothing more than to show you love and make sure you are ok. Service animals are highly trained for making sure you are ok; that is their specially designated job, and they do it happily with love in their hearts. Service dogs are not to be confused with emotional support animals. The key difference between the two is performing tasks. Emotional support animals are there for support, but they are not specially trained to perform tasks in times of crisis. Before deciding on going down the service dog route, here are six facts about living with a service dog you should consider.
Service Dogs Draw Attention
It’s difficult for any animal lover to see a cute dog and restrain themself from petting it, talking to it, etc. Any dog owner will tell you: cute animals draw the attention of many. People will probably ask to pet your dog, or at least talk to it in passing. Brave humans might even ask why you have a service dog. If the conversation or unwanted attention makes you or the dog uncomfortable, simply politely remove yourself from the conversation. It is best not to distract your service dog from its job, no matter how many people want to give it attention.
Continuous Training is Required
Imagine you work at a job that requires you to constantly update your skills. This is the case for service dogs. A part of their highly-attuned nature comes from lots and lots of training. Upholding a professional relationship with your service dog is so important to how they will behave in public. If you decide to let them start eating off the table when you have your nightly meal, they will recreate that same behavior when you take them out in public to a real restaurant. There must be a balance created between strictness and flexibility. In order to maintain status as a service dog, they must continuously meet behavioral standards. Do give them love and affection but remember their skills serve a specific purpose.
Dogs Have Their Days Too
Service dogs are not robots walking around, they are living, breathing, animals. This means they need special attention to their needs and emotions- yes, their emotions. Sometimes your dog might have a bad day. They get stressed or anxious too, and maybe they just need a break to go lay in the sunlight outside. Take care of your service dog like you would any other pet. Even though they are a working dog, they still need playtime, exercise, mental stimulation, and relief from their job.
Car Rides can be a Challenge
Ok, this fact is true for not just service dogs but dogs in general. Animals love to walk around in cars, over this seat and that seat, to get a chance to see outside. Just like humans, animals are also prone to anxiety themselves. In case your lovely pet has issues with long car rides or even short trips to the local park, having the proper tools to ease their anxiety is important. The Kulu mesh, dog seat cover is a popular solution to traveling with anxious dogs. It covers your back seat in a hammock-like style while featuring a mesh cutout window for your dog to look through. Often dogs find comfort in close, secure spaces.
Service Dogs Never Leave Your Side
Much like any normal dog, service dogs want to be by your side at all hours of the day. However, unlike a non-service dog, you really do have to bring them with you wherever you go no matter if it is a quick trip to the grocery store or attending your classes at university. Whatever the case may be, it is their job to always follow you around. This is not to annoy you, but to be your first line of defense if anything bad happens. After all, they are trained to stick by your side so they can do their job.
Public Spaces Accept Service Dogs
Governmental laws require all public spaces to be service dog friendly. That means any retail store, grocery store, workplace, public university, etc. allows service dogs regardless if the handler’s disability is physical or mental. Some public places might ask you directly, “Is your dog a service dog?” As long as you answer truthfully and the dog is wearing its proper uniform, there should be no issue with bringing the animal inside. Remember, businesses should not ask to see documentation and are not legally allowed to do so.