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At some point, you might ask yourself, "Can't I just 'fake' this whole service dog thing?" Training a dog takes time (and sometimes money, if you're not adept at training a dog yourself). And no proof of training or disability is even required. In contrast, an Emotional Support Animal requires documentation even though the animal can't venture outside your dorm. (Weird, right?)

But you don't want to be a fake. Why not? First, "fake" service dogs bring potential disrespect and mistrust to people with disabilities. Really bad Karma. Which is apparently why plenty of people are looking to call out fakes (see
YouTube).  And if you really need the assistance a service dog can provide, it's worth finding ways to get it so you can get the respect you deserve and the service you need from your animal.


Second, you probably can't fake it. It takes a lot of work just to train a service dog to have proper behavior in public , so you might as well really do it. Respect your own needs and those of others by having a real service dog. 

What's the Difference?

Service Dog Control
Who Will Train My Dog?
Training Steps


Image by alan King

















  1. rides in a shopping cart (dogs can't usually perform tasks that way, so this is considered to be a giveaway)

  2. sits in the handler's lap, even when it's not performing a service (typically service animals keep "four on the floor" unless performing a task).

  3. interacts with people freely; seeks attention (service dogs are trained to ignore people)

  4. is presented as a "registered" service dog (there is no official service dog registry but plenty of websites that  will add any dog to its list for a fee)

  5. cringes or acts fearful or aggressive (BTW: dogs trained for protection can be banned from premises, even if they are also service dogs)

  6. jumps up on people or drags you around by the leash

  7. begs for food (or just acts interested in it)

  8. sniffs the ground, wanders, or is easily distracted

  9. walks on in front of you, behind you, or on the wrong side of you (NOTE: Service dogs walk on the left for right-handed people so the right hand is free--or, conversely walks on the right side if you are left-handed).

  10. does not sit when the handler stops; does not tuck itself under the table at a meeting or restaurant

  11. makes sounds such as barking, growling, or whimpering (exceptions are sounds used as part of service tasks, such as barking to alert) 

  12. has the wrong kind of vest on (one that says "Therapy Dog" or "Emotional Support Animal," etc.)

  13. has no vest on (the law does NOT require a service dog to wear a vest, but a vest usually signals to a service dog that it's time to work, and many people seem to respect vests that appear official--which means the handler could encounter fewer skeptics or questions).

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