A Disability Is Not Optional

How many times do people need to point out in the law that a person MUST be disabled to qualify for a service animal? I would think seeing it highlighted in the law itself would be enough, but it turns out people are either too dense or feel so entitled that they think because they don’t see the consequences of their actions that they can continue to fake a service animal or bring their emotional support animals into public access situations. First of all, only handlers of task trained service animals have the right to bring their dog into non-pet-friendly businesses. Even if the animal is task trained the handler can be asked to remove the dog if it is misbehaving or goes potty in an inappropriate location. Businesses need to be made aware of this fact and exercise their right to disallow disruptive customers. As it stands now entitled handlers with under trained dogs make it difficult on legitimate teams to go about their lives. So for the love of dog, please if you don’t have a dog that is task trained and is not trained to handle public situations do not bring it with you shopping where pets ought not be.

Back to my original point, to even qualify for a service animal you need to be disabled by your condition. Generally this is decided through discussing it with your healthcare team. I should not have to say this, but for psychiatric/mental health issues especially you should have at the bear MINIMUM a formal diagnosis before you even consider a service animal, and a diagnosis does not equal a disability. Just because you get anxious sometimes does not mean you need a service animal. Even if something is disabling a service animal may not even be a beneficial part of your treatment plan. You maybe able to manage your condition through other therapies and medication, and that is fantastic. Owning and training a service animal is a very stressful lifestyle, and is not for everyone in fact anxiety disorders can be made worse by bringing a service animal into public. The stresses of what should be a quick trip to a grocery store as a service dog team can be too stressful for people with anxiety disorders such as Agoraphobia, people coming by to pet your dog, children running away from their parents to see your dog, all of the horribly invasive questions from random people can be very stressful especially for people with anxieties. Basically my main point is that a service animal should never be a first option, other treatment methods should be tried first. If they don’t work or don’t work completely then it might be time to consider a service animal.

Further more, if you are serious about owner training your own service dog for the love of everything, please do thorough in your research of the breed and potential breeders. German shepherds for example are never recommended for individual with anxiety disorders unless the have substantial experience with the breed. A toy breed will never be suitable for mobility, as a dog of about 50% of your height and weight are required to do it safely. For each breed read the AKC and/or the CKC website for the breed, talk to breeders, talk to owners of the breed, if possible find service dog handlers with that breed, it is of the utmost importance that you have as much information as possible so you have the highest probability of success.

Today’s Training Sessions

Before breakfast I did our first attempt at holding a down stay for five minutes. I did this by setting a five minute timer on my phone and starting it after I put her in the down stay. Each time she got up I silently put her back in position, leaving the timer running. The number of times I had to put her back in place during this session was in the high teens, which admittedly disappointed me as I know that she is capable of holding a stay for at least a couple minutes. Though I do wonder if the fact that she had not eaten and was likely impatient and somewhat frustrated that she had not eaten yet played into this.

I also left her in my room alone while I showered, putting out a couple of her toys and leaving the bone that she ignores most of the time down. I forgot to look at the time before leaving her there, but I average about 20 minutes from closing the door on her and returning to her. During the whole time she only knocked down the small basket of miscellaneous stuff I keep on my desk, none of it was chewed, I suspect I accidentally left a kibble or two next to or in it that tempted her. I also noted that I did not hear any barking or whining when I ducked out to check on her. Clearly Mom was right when she suggested that crating Saria might be part of the issue, and the solution lay in leaving her in a small part of the house that is dog-resistant(aka my room).

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