"Can Kaybee's make my dog a service dog?"

This is a question we have heard alot lately, and the answer is complicated.

The short answer is "No, but you can."

Unfortunately, there is alot of confusion surrounding what actually qualifies as a service dog. This is because there are 3 different terms/types of dog that may come up when you search “Service Dog” that are often (incorrectly) used interchangeably:

“Emotional Support” or “Companion Animals”

“Emotional Support Dogs” are essentially prescribed pets. You get a prescription from a doctor for a dog in order to help with an emotional or mental disability, and by law, you cannot be evicted from no-pet housing if you have that dog, UNLESS your dog is destructive and/or disruptive to other tenants or the landlord.

They do not require any training beyond what is normal for the average pet. However, passing the Canine Good Citizen test and presenting your landlord with the certificate is a good-faith gesture to show that you have made the effort to keep your dog well-mannered and in-control. The CGC test will be explained more at the end of this article.

If you own your own house, there is no reason to get an Emotional Support Dog. They are the same as regular pets, and have no special rights beyond housing disputes.

Emotional Support Dogs ARE NOT allowed to go wherever they want in public without being questioned.

Emotional Support Dogs ARE NOT the same as Service Dogs.

Therapy Dogs

“Therapy Dogs” are pets who are friendly, well trained, and have passed the certification test for whichever agency they choose to volunteer with. A Therapy Dog’s job is to visit hospitals, nursing homes, schools, etc. with their owner (and permission from the facility). While visiting, the dog is only there to be loved and to reduce stress for the residents, students, workers, etc.They do not do anything special for people other than sit to be petted. Therapy Dog volunteers are owners who are willing to take time out of their day and pay for special certification and insurance to share their pet with people in need of a cuddle.

Therapy dogs ARE NOT allowed to go wherever they want in public without being questioned.

They CAN visit specific facilities WITH PERMISSION and BY APPOINTMENT.

Therapy dogs ARE NOT the same as service dogs.

“Service Dogs”

A “Service Dog,” as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), is “a dog that has been individually trained to do work or perform tasks for an individual with a disability. The task(s) performed by the dog must be directly related to the person's disability.” There should be at least 3 different tasks that the dog is trained to do.

The dog MUST be fully trained to be considered a service dog. Dogs in training do not have the same rights as fully trained service dogs, they must get permission before entering a business or other public building.

Service Dogs can be trained by their owners. A professional trainer is not necessary.

Service Dogs DO NOT have to be certified by any organization or entity. Nor do they have to wear a vest or any special identification. Although Michigan DOES have a Service Dog registry, registration is OPTIONAL.

As long as you have properly trained the dog and have a debilitating disability the dog can help with, you can call it a service dog.

HOWEVER – if you have not properly trained your dog but you still call it a “service dog,” and it causes a disruption or bites someone while out in public, then you CAN be prosecuted for it.

Although it is illegal for anyone to ask “What is your disability?” they CAN ask “is the dog a service animal required because of a disability?” or “what work or task has the dog been trained to perform?” They cannot, however, require you to “prove it” or ask the dog to perform on the spot.

“Ok, I want a Service Dog then.
Can Kaybee’s train my dog to be a Service Dog?”

First of all, not every dog is cut out to be a Service animal. It takes just the right temperament and years of dedication (the puppy in the picture, for example, was not cut out for the job and had to be rehomed and replaced). So your dog might be a good candidate, or it might not. Also, you are not going to be training just one dog. Dogs can live anywhere from 6-17 years (if you’re super lucky, and barring any accidents or major medical problems). Humans, however, live much, much longer! So if you require a service dog, understand that you will need to start looking ahead to your replacement dog as the first one ages.

Now, if you’re thinking “I just want to take this particular dog with me wherever I go, I’m not worried about the next one yet.” Then you may not need a Service dog. The ADA was passed to protect people who cannot live full, happy lives without the help of their dog. The ADA does not exist so that anybody with a vest can take their dog grocery shopping. As harsh as that sounds, if you call us and ask to get your dog certified as a service dog so you can take them along on your bus trip to California, we’re sorry, but we cannot with clear conscience help you commit fraud. It’s just not fair to true Service dogs and their partners.

However, if your motivation to take your dog everywhere is due to the dog’s separation anxiety, THAT we can help with… but NOT by making them a Service Dog. We’ve got lots of experience helping dogs of all ages cope better when left alone. Once we’ve built a relationship with your dog, we’ll even board them for you here so they are in a familiar environment while you’re gone, and you’re welcome to check in on them anytime.

“Ok, I’m glad you don’t take fakes, but I really do need a Service dog.
Can you help me, or not?”

Depends on what you’re looking for. If you don’t already have a dog and you’re hoping to acquire one mostly trained, we recommend checking out Paws With a Cause. This is the organization that the owner of Kaybee’s, Kristine, first started out with. They are a non-profit organization that raise and train service dogs and their partners from start to finish. Working with them ensures you will get a quality helper without having to worry about picking the right breed or temperament or raising a puppy yourself. The downside to this, however, is that you’ll have to endure a pretty long waiting list. There are only so many puppies and volunteers to go around! If you’re still interested, check them out at https://www.pawswithacause.org/.

If you already have a dog who you would like to train yourself, then yes, we CAN help guide you through training your partner, but understand that YOU must do most of the work. We can guide you through classes and private lessons and provide you with all the instructions you need to build your perfect dog, but it is up to you to do the homework! The first step in this process is to take a basic obedience class. Be sure to tell your instructor your goals for the dog at the beginning of class, so they can adjust the curriculum for you accordingly. At the end of this class there will be an option to get your CGC title.

We do also offer partially trained Shelties through our Emotional Support Shelties program. These are young, healthy dogs from reputable breeders who, for one reason or another, weren't cut out to be show dogs. Their breeders send them to us around or slightly before 1 year old, and we get them started on the track to becoming either Emotional Support, Service, or Therapy dogs. All of our Shelties will go to their new homes ready for (or having already passed) their CGC tests. They will be fully vetted, fixed, and up to date on shots and preventatives. Purchase of a Kaybees Emotional Support Sheltie (KESS) includes FREE TRAINING FOR THE REST OF THE DOG'S LIFE to help shape them into the helper (or pet) you've always wanted. To see if we currently have any of these special fuzz heads available, check out their facebook page.

Canine Good Citizen Test

The AKC Canine Good Citizen test is a simple exam to show that your dog has learned its basic obedience and can be a “good citizen” when out and about. There are multiple difficulty levels of the test to suit your dog’s skill level, and after passing, you have the option of using the CGC title after your dog’s name or getting a certificate as proof that your dog is well behaved. We recommend that every dog who passes the class take this test, not just future service dogs. It is a particularly important milestone for any dog that plans to spend a lot of time out in public.

For more information on everything mentioned on this page (and then some), please check out the links below:

  • Paws With a Cause
  • Therapy Dogs International
  • ADA Service Animal Information
  • More ADA Service Animal Information
  • Michigan Service Animal Registry
  • Psychiatric Service Dog Guidelines
  • CGC Test
  • AKC Article on Service and Working Dogs
  • Misuse of Service Dogs
  • Autism Assistance Dogs
  • Assistance Dogs International
  • Vet Cost Assistance
  • The VA and Service Dogs