When you have a service dog or therapy dog, it's important to have access to everything your dog needs. Service and therapy dogs frequently visit places that are off-limits to pets, and it's important for them to be properly recognized as service animals. This not only ensures that the dogs will always be welcome, but also helps identify them to curious passersby.
Vests are especially helpful and make it easier to identify service dogs. Store and office staff will typically identify a dog as a service or therapy animal when a vest is worn. Bright colors like red, blue, green and orange are easily spotted. These vests are made from durable material and options with reflective material for walking at night are available.
Patches help identify dogs used for service or therapy work to the public. It's very common for people to be tempted to pat dogs that they see in public with their owners. However, dogs involved in service or therapy work need to be able to stay focused on the task at hand.
Some of the ways in which these patches help include:
- Letting members of the general public know that they are service animals and allowed to be in a store, restaurant or other public place
- Pointing out when service dogs are in training and must be exposed to the same situations as full service animals
- Advising interested passersby to refrain from patting the dog or asking permission first, to avoid needlessly distracting him or her
- Notifying the public that the dog assists its owner with mobility or hearing issues and alerts others to seizures or other emergencies
- Alerting others to the fact that he or she is a therapy dog, allowed to enter nursing homes and other healthcare facilities
- Informing others that the dog is used for search purposes
There are several accessories that are helpful for people who own or train service dogs. Professionally designed service dog cards can be presented to anyone who questions a dog's legal ability to be in a public place. These cards advise the reader of the owner's rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Other helpful accessories include web harnesses designed to be used with service dog vests. They are sturdy enough for the demands of even the biggest dogs. When owners have sight or mobility issues, it is especially important to make sure the dog is always securely leashed.