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A Quick Guide to Faking a Service Dog

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  1. ChaoticallyCrazed

    ChaoticallyCrazed Previously DannyTheDino

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    So I totally posted this elsewhere before, but I've not seen much of anything like this here, and I've seen several questions by people asking about how to make it seem like their dog is a service dog, so here you go. It's edited a bit, if you've seen this before.

    Now before I start off, I'd like to say that I'm an actual disabled person that requires a service dog to function normally. But I'm also an animal lover that understands the need of non-human affection.

    I've noticed a lot of people giving poor advice on how to fake a service dog, and I don't want any of you to lose your companions. Nor do I want stricter requirements for service dogs banning you guys from having yours, and making it more difficult for me to have mine.

    First off, lets look at the actual law.

    When it is not obvious what service an animal provides, only limited inquiries are allowed. Staff may ask two questions: (1) is the dog a service animal required because of a disability, and (2) what work or task has the dog been trained to perform. Staff cannot ask about the person’s disability, require medical documentation, require a special identification card or training documentation for the dog, or ask that the dog demonstrate its ability to perform the work or task.

    Under the ADA, service animals must be harnessed, leashed, or tethered, unless these devices interfere with the service animal’s work or the individual’s disability prevents using these devices. In that case, the individual must maintain control of the animal through voice, signal, or other effective controls.

    What does that mean for you?

    It means actually quite easy for you to properly fake a service dog and all you really need is a leash. No registry. No documentation. No vest. Just you and your well-trained dog.

    It would be best for you to keep a copy of that law somewhere and remember your answers to it. You don't have to tell anyone what disability you (don't) have. Just what tasks the dog can do. See trained tasks below for a few ideas. But you can find even more with a simple Google search. Look up 'PSD tasks'.

    What kind of training?

    Well, your dog will need not only basic behavior training but public access and task training as well.

    Basic behavior counts as being able to sit, lay, come, heel, etc on command. Your dog needs to be a pro at this level at all times.

    Public access means your dog needs to know how to behave around people and stores when 'working' (more on this later). Meaning their attention should be focused on you. No sniffing other people or dogs, let alone actually greeting other people, begging, eating things off the floor, or pulling at the leash. And dear god, no barking unless on command. Common courtesy is teaching your dog to 'tuck' or sit under a bench or a chair. This is good because it gets them out of risk of being stepped on, and brings less attention to you.

    Task training you can afford to be a bit more lax on, but you may find handy. Dogs can be trained to do amazing things. From waking you up at the sound of a quiet alarm or a particular time each day, to alerting you to the presence of a new human, to getting and staying between you and another human. A task is generally defined as a trained ability specifically to help you. Easy ones to show off if need be include picking up dropped items, leading you to an exit, reminder to take medication, carrying small items in a vest, and responding to an alarm or alert. Try to train at least two that can be done on command 100% of the time if someone requires you 'prove' it.

    When a dog knows they are working, and know how to do their job well, they tend to excel at it with beautiful ease (and sometimes prancing/showing off). Your dog should know without a doubt when they are to be on their best behavior and when it's time to goof off and be a normal dog. Besides using vests for public access reasons, many service dog owners use them during training and during work time so the dog has a clear indication of when they can romp around and have fun, and when it's time to act seriously.

    General Tips

    A vest is not necessary, but helpful as people will be less likely to ask you if it is, in fact, a service dog. If you're the type to get followed in a store by employees, you're probably gonna want a vest. Red/black vests with simple lettering declaring 'Service Dog' tend to bring less access challenges.

    Some states, like Florida, have laws protecting service dogs in training. Meaning if your dog is not 100% trained yet, you can still pop into the store to get what you need.

    Some stores are 100% okay with you having your dog in them without it being a service dog (like hardware stores). These places are perfect for training proper behavior. I would avoid trying to train your dog in a pet store though, way too many distractions.

    Check your local laws! Some places require your dog to be registered, most don't. Figure out what rights you have as a traveler.

    Treats are fine during training but you don't want to have your dog dependent on them. They should be well trained enough where they don't beg for a treat every time they do a command. Try giving small treats normally, and every once in a while doing a jackpot. So they never know what to expect, and are not so expectant on a large treat constantly. There are lots of service dog specific task training videos on YouTube.

    When you can and cannot be asked to leave

    This part is important. People with disabilities and legit service dogs have to deal with getting kicked out on the regular. Your experience will be no different. Let's look at the laws again.

    "A person with a disability cannot be asked to remove his service animal from the premises unless: (1) the dog is out of control and the handler does not take effective action to control it or (2) the dog is not housebroken. When there is a legitimate reason to ask that a service animal be removed, staff must offer the person with the disability the opportunity to obtain goods or services without the animal’s presence."

    "Establishments that sell or prepare food must allow service animals in public areas even if state or local health codes prohibit animals on the premises."

    Some examples to make things clear. When you can be kicked out:
    • Your dog is barking or growling
    • Your dog is begging for food from other patrons
    • Your dog rushes at, or jumps on, another human or thing
    • Private property (where the public is not generally allowed)
    When you can not be kicked out:
    • Someone has an allergy
    • Someone has a fear of dogs
    • Health codes (except in places that require sterility to function, like an operating room)
    Helpful Links:
    In Conclusion

    No service dogs aren't just for the blind, but that doesn't mean you can slap a harness on any old dog, wear dark sunglasses, and call it a day. Even if the dog knows his name... mostly.

    It's not the best solution. And I'm sure plenty of other disabled people will ban me from their communities if this gets out. But I know you guys are going to do what you're going to do to live your own life. And I'd rather it be done the best way possible with the least amount of harm to all parties involved.

    TL;DR: Train yourself in how to respond to nosy people according to the law. Train your dog how to respond to non-pet environments. Stay free.

    P.S. Lots of places offer free pet food to the homeless. I would look into that if you have trouble getting quality food for your buddy, especially if you are just on food stamps.
     
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    #1 ChaoticallyCrazed, Jan 18, 2018
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 11, 2018
  2. Matt Derrick

    Matt Derrick StP Founder, Admin, and travel addict
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    This is a great thread, thank you for sharing it. Would you mind if I promote it to our articles section? It'll get more exposure there and won't get buried under a bunch of other threads :)
     
  3. OP
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    ChaoticallyCrazed

    ChaoticallyCrazed Previously DannyTheDino

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    Well heck, I don't mind at all. The more people who it can help the better
     
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  4. AutisticSpider

    AutisticSpider is getting to know the place

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    Hey. I have an actual prescribed service dog that I am having a real hard time task and basic behavior training. I need help with this. The law says I can train my own dog but how? He's so fucking friendly and strong willed, any time he sees another dog he whines and acts up, tugs on the leash and sometimes triggers meltdown for me which is technically the exact opposite of what he's supposed to be doing for me. Can anyone help me with this problem? He is also an attention whore and misbehaves if needed to become the center of everyone's attention if I dare attempt to hold a conversation with someone instead of them giving him attention. This upsets me greatly as you can probably imagine. I need help. He's 3 years old and still has these issues :-(
     
  5. Tatanka

    Tatanka Completely Addicted

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    hey. mine was good with that when you her almost getting me booted. try a good old fashioned whack on the nose. personally, sometimes dogs just gotta be social. as long he doesn't bite anyone jump up etc, friendliness is acceptable when in service. I guess do best to avoid other dogs.
     
  6. OP
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    ChaoticallyCrazed

    ChaoticallyCrazed Previously DannyTheDino

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    I can totally give you pretty targeted advice actually. But I've gotta know more about the dog and what exactly is going on to know what'll work for you guys.

    What's the breed?
    How much activity does he get up to(daily/weekly)?
    What does his feeding schedule look like?
    Does he get treats/special food often when not training?
    What does your training schedule look like(or not look like)?
    What basic obedience does he know and how well will he hold it? (sit, stay, etc)
    Does he know any tasks? How well?
    What training methods are you or have you used? (if you're just winging it, that's cool too)
    What gear are you using? (flat collar vs choke chain, or flexi leash vs solid leash)
    What tasks are you trying to train?
    Do you have a vest? Or even a bandana to signal "work" mode for them?

    Feel free to PM me all this info if you don't care to make it all public. But I'd love to be able to help out and guide you through till they're closer to fully trained, as I'm able. I know it ain't easy training a service pup when you're disabled yourself.