You may have heard that emotional support dogs may soon no longer be allowed to travel in cabin for free on planes. Service dogs will still be permitted to do so, however. Therefore, the way to make sure your emotional support dog can still travel with you in cabin on airplanes is to make your emotional support dog into a service dog.
Check out also: Department of Transportation Could Ban Emotional Support Animals
What is the Difference Between Service Dogs and Emotional Support Dogs?
Both service dogs and emotional support dogs are types of assistance dogs used to help people with different kinds of disabilities in different ways. Unlike service dogs, emotional support dogs are not specially trained to perform specific tasks. Rather, ESAs provide their services by their mere presence, giving comfort, companionship and affection to people with a mental or emotional, rather than physical, disability.
Due to these differences, service dogs and emotional support dogs have different rights. Emotional support dogs are permitted to live with the person they serve in housing, even pet-free housing and be exempted from any pet deposit or fee a landlord might otherwise require. In addition, up until recently at least, emotional support dogs were allowed in cabin on domestic US flights at no extra charge. Soon, airlines may no longer be required to allow ESAs on their flights, or allow them for free. Instead, airlines would be able to use their discretion in whether or not to allow a passenger to bring an emotional support animal on board with him or her, and at no extra charge.
Service animals, by contrast, are permitted by federal law to go with their owner or handler anywhere that’s open to the public, including no-pet housing and in cabin on airplanes, but also in public parks, movie theaters, schools, hospitals, courthouses, office buildings, restaurants, taxicabs, buses, trains, beaches, churches, amusement parks, hotels and more. Moreover, when you bring your service dog with you into a public place, whether on board a plane, to reside with you in no-pet housing or to a theater or restaurant, the proprietor cannot place you in a special space designated for disabled persons with service dogs, such as special seating on a train or a special room in a motel.
As you can see, not only will making your emotional support dog a service dog allow your dog to fly in cabin with you for free on airplanes, even if the rules change to prohibit ESAs from flying in cabin on planes. It also allows your dog to accompany you almost anywhere in public that you go.
If you bring your service dog to work with you, your employer is required by law to make reasonable accommodation for your dog, such as allowing food and water dishes at your workstation, allowing you breaks to walk the dog and providing a larger space if the dog is a larger breed than your current workspace accommodates.
How to Make Your Emotional Support Dog a Service Dog
Steps to Make Your ES Dog a Service Dog
To make your dog a service dog, you must first give that dog training in performing the tasks that you will require of your service dog. Those tasks can encompass a range of activities across numerous categories, including:
- Alert tasks
- Call tasks
- Carry tasks
- Clean tasks
- Closing tasks
- Delivery tasks
- Drag tasks
- Find tasks
- Forward tasks
- Guide tasks
- Help tasks
- Indicate tasks
- Interruption tasks
- Leading tasks
- Mobility tasks
- Movement tasks
- Open/Close tasks
- Provision tasks
- Pulling tasks
- Push tasks
- Retrieval tasks
- Turn on/off tasks
In addition to perform relevant tasks from these categories, a service dog must also be a “good citizen,” meaning the dog must not beg for food, jump, bark, sniff or take any other undirected action that would distract attention from you, his or her handler.
You can choose either to train your dog in the necessary tasks on your own or pay a professional to train your dog as a service dog for you. If you decide to train your dog yourself to be a service dog, be aware that there is plenty of online resources that share knowledge on how to properly train a dog.
In addition, any service dog should be able to perform the fundamental obedience commands outlined in the NSAR Public Access Test, a standardized obedience test for service dogs and psychiatric service dogs. These commands involve many major life activities including:
- Controlled unloading from a vehicle
- Approaching a building and heeling through a building
- Entering through a doorway in a controlled manner
- Exiting a building in a controlled manner and without distraction
- Recalling on a six-foot lead
- Sitting and lying down on command
- Avoiding noise distractions
- Behaving properly at a restaurant
- Staying behaved and under control off-lead
In the United States, there is no minimum amount of hours of training required to make a dog a service dog, as long as it can perform the necessary tasks without causing a public disturbance or direct health or safety risk. For your dog to be recognized as a service dog internationally, however, around 120 hours of training is required over a period of six months. However much training you give your ES dog to become a service dog, make sure that some of it is conducted in public in order to prepare the dog for circumstances and situations where distractions and surprises happen.