Presentations and Seminars for businesses and organizations
Are you a business or other public entity that has encountered a disabled handler with a service dog?
In addition to training service dogs and their handlers, Wind River Tails & Trails is also striving to promote correct information and provide education to the public regarding service dogs and the life-saving work that they do, as well as the laws and regulations surrounding the use of service dogs by disabled handlers.
Below are some general guidelines for businesses and other entities regarding service dogs, some information resources, as well as how to schedule a presentation or seminar with one of our service dog trainers!
How To Identify A Service Dog Team
A service dog can be any dog that is trained to do work or perform tasks for a person with a disability.
Service Dogs MUST:
- Be owned/handled by a person with a disability or a person training the dog for a person with a disability
- Be well behaved and under the handler’s control at all times
- Be trained to perform a task that directly relates to and mitigates its handler’s disability(ies).
Service dogs DO NOT:
- Need to be identified by wearing a vest, cape, harness, etc. Many handlers choose to do this to help alleviate confusion, but it is NOT required by law. *Exception: Service Dog In Training
- Need to be registered or certified. Handlers are not required to carry or provide any documentation.
- There are online registrations and certifications out there on the internet. These hold no legal standing and do not guarantee a dog’s training or the disabled status of the handler
- Need to be on the ground. Some small dogs are more effective working from the handler’s arms or in a carrier (i.e. a small-breed diabetic alert dog). However, these dogs should never be placed in a shopping cart, basket, or on a chair/table at a restaurant. These dogs should still be well-behaved and under the handler’s control
As a business owner/employee, what information can I request from a service dog team?
Businesses/staff members may only ask TWO QUESTIONS:
- Is the dog a service animal required because of a disability?
- What task(s) is the dog 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.
Schedule a Presentation!
We offer a 1-hour presentation by one of our service dog training specialists for businesses and their staff, schools, faculty, or any other small group. This presentation includes approximately 40-45 minutes of lecture and 15-20 minutes of Q&A.
The cost of a presentation is $50 for any location between Missoula and Hamilton. Travel outside of this area will incur an additional mileage fee. Get in touch to learn more!
Call: (406) 273-4899
What about "fake" service dogs? What can I do?
Again, with the rise of the internet and product accessibility, anyone can jump online and purchase a vest and ID card that says “Service Dog,” so it is sometimes VERY difficult to tell whether a service dog team is legitimate based on the ADA definition or not.
In addition to that, there is a severe lack of education regarding service dog laws, and many people do not understand that other types of assistance dogs, such as Emotional Support Animals, do not have the same sort of access to public entities as a trained service dog.
Here are some guidelines that may help you:
- Ask the two questions you are allowed. If the handler cannot answer these questions satisfactorily, chances are this is not a service dog team
- If the handler answers the second question with something like, “He helps me with my anxiety,” “He provides emotional support,” “He helps keep me calm,” these may be indicators that a dog is an Emotional Support Animal. This could also mean the dog is a psychiatric service animal — an additional clarification is appropriate here.
- If the handler does not answer the second question satisfactorily, you may be more specific. As with the example above, you may clarify, “What is your dog trained to do to help you with your anxiety?” You may not inquire further into the nature of the person’s disability but you can inquire about the dog’s behavior. If the handler is not able to answer this question, you may ask them to leave.
- Observe the dog’s behavior. A service dog should be under control at all times, and as unobtrusive as possible to the regular flow of business. Businesses are not required to accommodate a handler if a dog is disruptive or posing a safety risk to other patrons or staff. If a dog is not under the handler’s control, you may ask the handler to remove it.
Below are some great resources that may answer additional questions!
When can a business refuse a service dog team?
There are only two instances where a business may ask a service dog team to leave. They are:
- The dog is out of control and the handler does not take effective action to control it
- The dog is not housebroken/has an accident
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.
Please keep in mind that there are life-saving tasks that dogs perform that may appear to be a dog “misbehaving” to a casual observer. Some examples of these behaviors might be:
- A dog placing its paws up on its owner as a medical alert
- A dog offering a bark as a medical alert to its owner/alert others that the owner may need assistance
- A dog sniffing food at a restaurant may be checking the food for the presence of a dangerous allergen
If a dog performs one of these behaviors, or others, and then ceases, this does not constitute a dog as being out of control. Please also remember that service dogs are still dogs and there may be times that they become surprised, or startled, or make a mistake. If a dog performs a behavior (i.e. barks at something that startles them) and the owner takes immediate action to quiet the dog and bring it back under control, these are not grounds to ask a team to leave.
What about allergies or fear of dogs?
According to the ADA, “Allergies and fear of dogs are not valid reasons for denying access or refusing service to people using service animals. When a person who is allergic to dog dander and a person who uses a service animal must spend time in the same room or facility, for example, in a school classroom or at a homeless shelter, they both should be accommodated by assigning them, if possible, to different locations within the room or different rooms in the facility.”
What is proper etiquette for interacting with a customer with a service dog?
In simplest terms, treat the customer the same as you would any other. Do not pay any attention to the service dog and it shouldn’t pay any attention to you! Service dogs are trained to be as unobtrusive as possible and not interrupt the regular flow of business. Please do not stare at, talk to, or attempt to touch the service dog — after all, they are still dogs, and still do like humans! A determined human can distract even the best-mannered service dog, and that distraction could be dangerous for the handler.
If the reason for the dog is not obvious, please (politely) ask the customer the two questions you are allowed. The customer might ask for a specific accommodation in some circumstances to help their service dog remain out of the way, such as asking for a table in a corner or against the wall in a restaurant.
Have Additional Questions?
Please feel free to call the kennel or email our service dog specialist, Ally Cowan, with any specific questions.
If you see a service dog team with a “Wind River” patch on its vest or harness and have a question concerning the team’s behavior, PLEASE get in touch! We are committed to a lifetime of support for our clients and creating a positive image of the service dog community — if anyone is having trouble, we want to help for the benefit of all involved. Thank you!