Category Archives: Public Blog


Public Access Test Webinar

Service dogs don’t just happen. They are never born service dogs (and if someone tries to sell you a “service dog puppy,” turn on your scam alert). That said, knowing the history of both parents of a litter can guide you in choosing a puppy more likely to be up to the tasks and lifestyle of a working Service Dog.

Whether the service dog prospect is a pup or adult, s/he is assessed initially and age appropriate training begins as early as possible.

While your dog is engaged in such training, s/he is classified as a Service Dog In Training (SDIT). Not all SDITs become Service Dogs. Periodic assessments (including full veterinary checks for structural and health problems) and training are key to knowing whether to continue with the same dog or to determine the SDIT is best suited for working only in the home or becoming a pet. Ongoing assessment is a necessary component of any good training plan. The goal is for the handler and dog team to be ready, willing, and able to work together as necessary to overcome various obstacles of the disabled person.

As stated in the Americans With Disabilities Act, “Service dogs are trained….” 

Once a dog is determined to be potentially suitable to be trained as a service dog, training begins in two different areas:

  • public access training and
  • task training. Tasks are specific to the needs of the disabled person, so task training and assessment is too.

Sometimes they occur simultaneously and sometimes public access training begins well before task training and they are simultaneous later. Public access training always begins immediately.

Public access training is fairly consistent for all service dogs. They are administered a Public Access Test (PAT). This is because a service dog must be safe and comfortable in a variety of situations and understand what is expected of them while they are working in and around the general public.

Before Service Dog Mentors issues a certificate to any team, we administer the PAT along with task testing specific to the team. We also usually administer a trial run public access test sometime toward the beginning of training in order to ascertain the necessary focus for that team’s public access training.

What’s Included in the Public Access Test?

This webinar recording provides an overview of what to expect during your public access test.  As always, contact us for more information.


Service Dogs, Emotional Support Animals, Assistance Animals and Therapy Dogs

We often receive calls or referrals from physicians and allied professionals revealing a general confusion over terms like Service Dog, Emotional Support Dog, Assistance Animal, and Therapy Dog. The terms are not interchangeable and each has a specific meaning.

Service dogs fall under the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) and are solely used to help a disabled person function within daily life so that they may live a fulfilling life with complete access to the public places enjoyed by those without disabilities. Two criteria are relevant: 1. the person must be disabled and 2. the dog must BE TRAINED to assist with one or more tasks that help the disabled person in their everyday life functioning.

Only Service Dogs, as defined by the ADA, are permitted in businesses and other public places where pets are not permitted and only when they are accompanying a disabled person and/or the trainer. 

Emotional Support dogs (ESDs) fall under the Fair Housing Act as well as the Air Carrier Access Act. They are permitted to travel on airlines and to live in housing, even when the landlord typically doesn’t allow animals with a letter from a physician stating that the person has a need for an ESD.

HUD refers to both service dogs and emotional support dogs as “Assistance Animals” and provides protection for people in need of either one.

The United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) uses the term “assistance animal” to cover any animal that works, provides assistance, or performs tasks for the benefit of a person with a disability, or provides emotional support that alleviates one or more identified symptoms or effects of a person’s disability.  An emotional support animal is one type of assistance animal allowed as a reasonable accommodation to a residence with a “no pets” rule. (Assistance Animals In Housing)

Therapy Dogs, unlike Service Dogs and Emotional Support Dogs, are trained to provide comfort to groups of people, none of whom need to be disabled. They go into various settings ranging from care facilities like hospitals and nursing homes to sites where many people are in crisis following a tragedy or disaster.

Many questions regarding Service Dogs are addressed in guidance published by the Dept of Justice in a clear, concise Question and Answer format. This is an excellent resource!

As always, feel free to contact us with any questions you have.




Success in Training

Like people, dogs are each unique and have many variables affecting their training, but the most important variable is you.

Your skillAnimals & Wildlife

Your attentiveness

Your consistency

These three, more than anything else, determine whether or not your dogs will reach their full potential and whether or not they will even do very simple behaviors when you ask. Continue reading