What Equipment Do You Need for a Service Dog?


Quick Answer

The only required equipment for a service dog is a harness or leash to help control the animal. Even that may be waived in specific circumstances, such as if a leash would prevent the dog from being able to perform its work, as long as the dog is well-controlled by voice commands or other methods.

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Full Answer

Although most handlers use a vest, identification card or another method to clearly identify their dogs as service animals, the Americans with Disabilities Act does not require this practice. Some cities or organizations have voluntary registration programs which can provide identification cards, but they cannot require handlers to participate in them. In most cases, such as when a service dog enters a business with its handler, employees cannot legally ask the handler to produce any documentation for the dog. However, they can ask if it is a service dog and what it is trained to do.

Service dogs are required to meet the same general laws that govern pet dogs, such as vaccination and licensing requirements. This may include displaying registration tags on a collar or harness.

Some service dogs do need specialized equipment to do their jobs. This can include things such as boots to provide traction on slippery tile floors, backpacks to carry medication and harnesses with special handles to help their owners balance while walking. These vary significantly depending on what the dog is trained to do.

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