Service dogs have become a common sight in our society, especially with the passing of the American Disability Act. However, many people still don’t understand much about them. And as expected, this has led to inaccuracies, misconceptions and myths surrounding these animals and their roles.
These animals are essential to the quality of life of their handlers, and any mistake due to misinformation can be harmful or life-threatening. Which is why it is doubly important to debunk these myths and clarify any misconceptions about the roles these animals play in the life of their handlers.
Here are five common misconceptions about service dogs debunked.
#1. Service Dogs are the same as Emotional Support Dogs
These two animals are different both from a legal point of view and also from a functional point of view. An emotional support dog is a pet that provides emotional support for his or her handler. They are usually untrained, and all you need is a doctor’s note to allow them to live in housing where pets are usually not permitted, or to fly with you.
On the other hand, a service dog acts as a medical aide, as important as an insulin pump or a wheelchair. These dogs are trained to provide or support specific tasks related to helping their handler live independently. Emotional support or comfort doesn’t count as one of the tasks a service dog provides.
#2. Service Dogs must be professionally trained
While it is vital to ensure your service dog gets the best training possible, the above statement is untrue. A service dog doesn’t need to graduate from a professional training program. Anyone can train them. In some instances, the owner or handler trains the service dog.
A dog trainer can train your service dog with the knowledge and skills to required or by an organization such as SDR of America that specializes in training and registering service dogs. If you decide to train your service dog yourself, it is always best to combine that with instruction from a reputable professional organization to get the best out of your service dog.
#3. Training Service Dogs only takes a few months
In reality, training of your service dog is a continuous journey. Your service pet should be able to learn and adapt as your needs and tasks change over time. However, it usually takes about twenty-four months to train a service dog fully.
Despite that, your dog will need refresher training sessions now and then. These training sessions ensure your dog doesn’t forget any of the tasks they have learned to perform either due to little or no use at all.
#4. Service Dogs can detect drugs
These animals are in no way trained to detect drugs. People, especially those with something to worry about, are always scared of service dogs as they think they can smell out someone carrying drugs. Yes, the dog will probably be able to perceive the drugs, but they are not trained to react to that information.
The only person a service dog is trained to focus on is you, the handler.
#5. Businesses are not allowed to remove a Service Dog
While your service dog has the right to enter a business unhindered, companies also have rights. If your dog is displaying any aggressive behavior or is out of control, the company can and should ask that the animal be taken out of the building.
These five misconceptions are some of the sticky points around service dogs and the critical roles they play in the life of their handlers. Clearing them is essential, as these pets are becoming an increasingly popular option for people with disabilities.