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How a Service Dog Should Behave in Public Situations

Service dogs serve a variety of purposes for individuals with disabilities. If you or your loved one has a disability, contact the best service dog registry to see how a service dog can help. A picture of Sully, President George H.W. Bush’s service dog, sitting beside the former president’s casket in the U.S. Capitol, illustrates the loyalty and obedience of these special dogs. If you have a service dog, you need to know how your dog should behave in public places.


A service dog is allowed to go to places where dogs aren’t normally allowed. The dog must be disciplined at all times. Being certified as a service dog requires that a dog be partnered with someone with a disability and be trained to perform specific tasks. The dog must ignore distractions, whether it’s other dogs, people, sounds, or smells.

The dog should not sniff other people, animals, or objects unless it’s part of his or her duties-for example, when the dog is trained to detect allergens. The dog should never sniff just to explore the territory. An object or food on the ground shouldn’t even pique the dog’s interest. The dog should display an even temperament and never appear anxious or aggressive.


A service dog is trained to perform a task that will benefit an individual with a specific disability, such as muscular dystrophy, paraplegia, or diabetes. The service dog must remain focused on his or her trainer and the trainer’s needs.


The service dog must be obedient. The dog should respond to the commands and cues of the handler quickly and appropriately. The dog must be alert for any emergency. In a restaurant or other public place, the dog will sit under a table or by the trainer’s side. The dog may change positions but otherwise is still.


The service dog should not make any noise. The dog should not bark, growl, or whine unless it’s necessary to get the attention of the trainer or perform a task for the trainer.


The service dog must walk well on a leash. The dog doesn’t pull or circle the handler unless it’s necessary to perform a task or is a form of communication with the handler. If the handler is performing a task, the dog will sit or lie still until the handler is ready to move.


The service dog should be clean and well-groomed. You want the dog to make a good impression on others. Business owners must allow you and your dog to enter their businesses. Your dog’s appearance will go a long way in getting warmer welcomes from business owners.


The dog must be housebroken. The dog should not urinate or defecate in undesignated areas. The dog should never display aggressive tendencies. A business owner can exclude a service dog in 2 circumstances-if the dog is out of control and the handler isn’t able to correct the dog’s conduct, or if the dog isn’t housebroken and urinates or defecates in an inappropriate manner. Only the service dog can be excluded. The trainer can’t be forced to leave and must be allowed to make a purchase or obtain a service.

Contact the National Service Animal Registry at (866) 737-3930 about making your pet a service dog to assist you with a disability. We’ll explain how service dog registration works. Learn how a service dog can help you perform tasks to make your life easier.

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Train a Hearing Alert Dog

Training your own Alert Service Dog might seem like a difficult task at first, but this article will show you that it is easier than you think.

Dogs love spending time with their people and enjoy learning new things. Once you begin an intelligent and planned training program and are armed with a few tricks to help, you’ll discover training your Service Dog is not only easier than you originally thought, it’s a great way for the two of you to bond have fun!

One key task for all hearing alert service dogs is to bark at specific events, like when someone knocks on the front door. Believe it or not, not all dogs are inclined to bark when you knock on the door. As such, some dogs may need to be taught, if they are going to be an effective alert mechanism for you.

Why do you need to train your Service Dog to bark?

Part of the job of a Hearing Alert Service Dog is to alert you to the presence of strangers. Most, but not all dogs will bark if a stranger comes to their home. It is often an innate, protective instinct.

In addition, training your Service Dog to bark on command is one way to teach him to think critically and communicate effectively. This can enhance his/her quality of life, as well as making yours safer and better.

Teaching a dog to “speak” is straightforward. It will give you confidence and experience to embark on additional training paths with your Hearing Alert Service Dog; a benefit to you both.

Make your Service Dog feel at home

Before you begin the training, think about what you want your service dog to do.

If your dog doesn’t instinctively bark when someone comes to the door, ask yourself why? Maybe your dog is naturally a mellow and quiet animal. That’s ok; it isn’t a problem. With encouragement and training you’ll be able to teach him to bark when you need him to.

Sometimes, though dogs don’t bark instinctively because they aren’t confident enough yet in their home to feel the need to protect it and/or they may have a level of anxiety.

If your dog is new to you, training him as a hearing alert service dog is a great way to start bonding with him or her. Just remember to be patient while he settles into his new home and gets to know you.

If he suffers from anxiety, make sure he has the opportunity to socialize with other dogs and people outside the home. Socialization is the key to lessening anxiety and will make him feel protective both of you and your home. And once he feels protective, he is more likely to bark in the presence of strangers.

How to train your Hearing Alert Service Dog to bark

Step 1: Decide on your reward system

If you’ve already trained your dog for some behaviors, you may already have a reward system in place. If so, use this reward system when teaching your Service Dog to bark and they will no doubt respond to “speak” training very quickly.

If you haven’t yet established a reward system, read on to find out about using a clicker, treats, and other positive reinforcement to make training easier.

Use a clicker. Using a clicker to train your Service Dog is an effective method to teach the dog to identify what it is you want him to do. Every time he demonstrates good behavior CLICK – REWARD – PRAISE. He will learn to love hearing the sound of the click as he will associate it with a treat and your praise, and will be quick to do what you want him to.

Choose great treats. Dogs (and humans!) respond best to rewards they like, so make sure you use tasty rewards when training your Service Dog. Tiny pieces of cheese, bits of sausage or broken up dog treats are great rewards. You can also find a great variety of training treats in your local pet store. It’s good to vary the treats to keep your dog interested. The key is to make sure the treat is something your Service Dog really enjoys. Start your training session with a taste of the treat to get him excited!

Positive affirmation. Rewarding good behavior works with dogs, just like it does with children and adults! When your Service Dog does what you want it to during training, reward it with a click, treat, and praise. Making a fuss for learned good behaviors will show the dog that this is what you want him to do and enable him to associate the behavior with a positive outcome. This will make learning quicker, more effective, and fun for both of you.

Step 2: Reward your Service Dog when they bark naturally

In order to teach your Service Dog to bark on command, start out by waiting for him to bark and rewarding the bark with a treat.

First, give him a tiny taste of the treat (or a sniff of the toy) to get him excited. Then hold the treat in your hand and move it around playfully to encourage his interest. When he makes even the tiniest of sounds, reward him with a click, treat, and praise.

You might have to wait a while at first until he makes the first bark and it might be such a small sound you miss it. Keeping your closed hand (containing the treat) near his mouth, to help you feel his breath when he makes the tiniest of barks. Be playful to keep him interested. Reward these early sounds and they will get more distinct as he gets more confident.

If you’ve already trained your Service Dog to do other things (sit, down etc) he might start working his way through his repertoire to see exactly what it is you want him to do. This is good because he shows he is thinking critically. Ignore all the other behaviors until he makes a sound. See him have an “Aha!” moment when you reward him and he realizes what it is you want him to do!

Once he has made a sound and been rewarded a few times, keep the momentum going but only reward the barks as they sound more distinct. The first time he makes a proper bark give him a few pieces of the treat in quick succession (or a big old tug of war on the toy if that is his reward of choice) to show you are really pleased with his behavior.

Remember to make a fuss of your dog when he does well and to be playful during training. This is a sure-fire way to make sure he loves your training sessions and will respond well to what you are trying to teach him.

Step 3: Teach him a command

Once your Service Dog has started to associate barking with a click and treat, choose a command to associate with the behavior such as “speak” or “talk”.

Now, every time he barks, say the command at the same time immediately followed by click – reward – praise.

It doesn’t matter which command you choose, if you are consistent. Your Service Dog doesn’t know what the words “speak” or “talk” mean. Whichever command you choose will mean “bark” to him.

Step 4: Teach him a hand signal

Once he has responded to the command a few times by barking, add a hand signal (should as a pointed finger) to the command.

Now every time he barks on command combined with the hand signal, click – reward – praise. At first, even a small sound should be rewarded but as he gets more confident only reward the distinct barks as before.

If you do this consistently, he will soon learn that the command and hand signal are associated with barking and that he will be rewarded. Eventually, you may choose to drop the command and have him respond only to the hand signal.

Step 5: Teach him to bark when you want him to

Once you have him barking on command you can train him to bark in certain situations, such as when someone comes to the door or the phone rings.

Rather than training him only when someone really comes to the door or calls you, ask a neighbor or friend to help you practice.

Ask someone to knock on the door, give your Service Dog the command. If he barks, reward him.

Your Service dog will be more interested if you show interest, so make sure to make a bit of a fuss when checking out who it is at the door.

Similarly, ask someone to phone you. Give your Service Dog the command, and reward him if he barks.

Step 6: Teach your Hearing Alert Service Dog to be quiet

Just as soon as you’ve taught your Service Dog to bark, you’ll probably need to teach him to be quiet as you want him to alert you, but not become a nuisance for your or your neighbors.

Now he knows what the command means, only reward barking when you give the command. You don’t want him to think barking will always get a reward.

The best way to train your Service Dog to be quiet is to catch the point where he stops barking, use a command (for example, “ssh” or “quiet”), and reward him. If you do this consistently, he will learn to associate the command with quiet and do it on command.

Practice “speak” and “quiet” together to reinforce the training.

Top tips for training your Service Dog

Little and often is the best way to train a Service Dog. So, practice every day for short bursts. That way your dog will enjoy your attention and learn without getting bored. If your Service Dog loses interest, stop the training for a while and pick it up later. Let him see you put the treats away. When they come out again, he might be more enthusiastic!

Motivation is key. It’s hard to train a dog to “speak” unless he wants to, so motivation is the key to success. Make sure you are playful and enthusiastic during training sessions, use rewards consistently and praise him when he does what you want him to do. This is the way to ensure he loves learning new things, which will make him easier and quicker to train.

Keep treats on hand. Positive reinforcement (rewarding the behavior you want him to demonstrate) is the best way to train a dog. Make sure you always have treats on hand, in your pocket or in strategic places around the house, so you can reward good behavior immediately.

Training isn’t limited to training sessions. Consistency is key when training a Service Dog so don’t limit it to training sessions. When he demonstrates good behavior in real life, take the opportunity to reward him.

All dogs are different. Some dogs are easier to train than others depending on their breed, age, and background. With regard to certain behaviors, such as barking, some dogs and breeds are naturals, whereas others are not so much. Be patient and consistent and your Service Dog will get there in the end.

How to Train Your Hearing Alert Service Dog to Bark

Training your Service Dog doesn’t have to be difficult. Once you get started you’ll realize how well dogs respond to learning new things and how much they enjoy it.

Teaching your Service Dog to bark not only enables him to perform an essential job for you, it also gives him the opportunity to please you and get rewarded, exercise his brain and to bond with you.

As well as helping him to become an effective watchdog you’re also making him happy. Now, there’s something to bark about!

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The Many Benefits of Having an Emotional Support Animal

Emotional support animals (ESAs) are pets (usually dogs and cats) who provide vital assistance to people suffering from a mental illness. While it’s become increasingly acceptable in recent years to talk openly about the struggles of living with a mental illness, not everyone who could qualify for an ESA is taking advantage of the life-changing difference living with an ESA can make. To qualify for an ESA, pet owners need to have a letter from a mental health professional verifying that they’re living with a disability, so there is a process you have to go through in order to have your pet registered as an emotional support animal. Tags can denote your pet’s status, and there are certification costs, but the benefits associated with ESAs far outweigh the cost and effort.

Reducing Stress

One of the principal benefits from living with an ESA is the impact they have on lowering stress levels. If you suffer from anxiety, having your pet present with you in public spaces will diminish the feelings of alienation you may feel. Time spent with your pet releases endorphins which make it easier for you to cope with anxiety, and the mere act of petting your ESA produces a calming feeling that helps you deal with stressful situations.

Increasing Socialization

Dogs are perfect ice breakers. If you feel nervous around strangers and crowds, your ESA will make it easier to engage in conversations in a positive way. Having a pet you can take anywhere encourages you to get out more and go for long walks where you can expect to meet and interact with other people and their pets. This offers the positive reinforcement from meeting and talking to people you might not get without an ESA.

Greater Responsibility Brings Fulfillment

When you’re taking care of a pet, you transfer your attention from yourself to another living being. If you’re afraid of flying for instance, it can be tremendously helpful to comfort your pet and give them the kind of support that someone might give you. Feeding and caring for your ESA helps divert your thoughts away from things that might be troubling you and offers a sense of satisfaction from knowing the love you give your ESA is returned to you tenfold.

Keeping You in the Present

If you tend to dwell on your own insecurities and problems that upset you, ESAs force you concentrate on the moment at hand. Dogs and cats don’t fixate on issues affecting them in the past or future; they’re always present in the now. This is one of the most instructive things about pets. When you’re with them, petting them and talking to them, you’re as present in the moment as they are and less likely to focus on negative thoughts and fears.

If you would like to take advantage of the benefits offered by emotional support animals, contact the National Service Animal Registry. We’ve been providing people with emotional support animal certification since 1995. To certify your ESA, visit our certification page or give us a call at (866) 737-3930. Get your pet registered today!

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Can Cats Be Emotional Support Animals?

Dogs perform a number of jobs in society, including acting as service dogs for many individuals who are deaf, blind, autistic, physically disabled, or otherwise in need of assistance. Dogs are incredibly adept at learning to perform the tasks needed to be a fully certified service animal. But what about emotional support animals? These animals are not required to receive specialized training or to perform specific tasks, so does that mean you can have a different type of ESA animal, like a cat? Or are you limited to only an ESA support dog? Keep reading to find out.

Any Animal Can Be an ESA

The short answer here is yes, a cat can be an emotional support animal. In fact, any animal can be considered an ESA, so long as it provides you with comfort and relief from a mental, physical, or emotional struggle. Many people find their pets to be a comfort in times of difficulty, but for those with persistent anxiety, depression, or even chronic pain, that pet becomes a necessity.

So, if you have a cat that helps to relieve your mental health complications and enables you to live a happier and more fulfilling life, then that cat is qualified to be an emotional support animal.

Not Everyone Is a Dog Person

Not everybody likes dogs. In fact, some people have a deep fear of dogs. This is why it is so important for people to have more than one option when it comes to owning an emotional support animal. Far too many people who genuinely need an ESA will put off getting one because they believe it must be a dog. Once they discover that a cat or other pet can also qualify for ESA registration, they are quick to find a pet that offers them the support that they need.

Benefits of a Support Cat

While any animal can be an ESA, dogs and cats are the two most common options that people choose. In addition to being an excellent option for individuals who may not be entirely comfortable with dogs, having an emotional support cat offers a number of other benefits over their more energetic counterparts.

While dogs are excellent companions, they do require quite a bit more work to care for than cats do. Dogs need to be walked daily, and even lower-energy breeds need regular play and exercise. Cats, on the other hand, are masters at caring for themselves. While they can be loving and playful members of the family, their lower maintenance needs make them a better option for those who simply don’t have the energy to give a dog the care they require.

How Can an ESA Help You?

Emotional support animals can be a great source of relief for many individuals and even be included as part of a comprehensive treatment plan for a number of conditions. ESAs-including dogs, cats, and many other types of animals-help to provide the following benefits to their owners:

  • Relief from anxiety
  • Reduced feelings of depression
  • Coping with PTSD
  • Helping with ADD

Anxiety and depression are the two most common uses for ESAs, and the animal does not have to be a dog to provide relief for those conditions. The presence of a warm, purring, loving cat can be equally relaxing to those who suffer from anxiety or depression.

Registering an ESA

Registering an ESA is a quick and effortless process. However, it’s important to remember that certifying your animal as an ESA is intended only for those who genuinely suffer from mental or emotional health issues. You can register your cat or another animal online on our website in a matter of minutes. Reach out to us if you have any questions about the registration process.

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What Can a Service Dog Do for Anxiety: Everything You Need to Know

Millions of people suffer every day from anxiety. Generalized anxiety disorders, high-stress work environments, and different forms of social stressors can present a lot of problems in our daily lives. Thankfully, service dogs have proven to be incredibly helpful for those dealing with anxiety. This goes way beyond a cute smile and a cuddle from your favorite pup. Service dogs can actually provide a lot of support and relief. Here are some amazing ways service dogs can help you or someone you know in a stressful situation.

Detecting Signs of Anxiety

One of the most amazing things about trained service dogs is their ability to detect an anxiety attack before it happens. If your anxiety tends to creep up on you in certain situations, your service dog can alert you when an anxiety attack is coming on. If your service dog detects rising anxiety levels, you can leave the scene and find a safe and calming space for yourself to recover. Service dogs can help you to stop an anxiety attack before it becomes a debilitating situation.

Lead You to Safety

Service dogs can also lead you to a safe place or alert another person for help. For many people, anxiety can become so overwhelming that it’s hard to find an exit, ask for help, or even find a safe place to sit down. Service dogs are trained to get you out of an uncomfortable situation and lead you to safety.

Stop Others from Coming Too Close

Many people suffer from social phobias that can make them feel highly anxious when out in public or in crowded areas. Having a service dog can create that space between you and the public so you don’t feel suffocated or overwhelmed. A service dog can be trained to stop others from coming too close to you. Service dogs are trained not to react in a vicious or aggressive way. They will simply create a strong presence to protect you from elements that might raise your anxiety levels.

Bring You Medication

Service dogs can also bring people medication when their anxiety symptoms appear. They can act as a reminder to take daily medication, or they can be trained to get medication for you if you’re physically unable to get it yourself. Anxiety can be a paralyzing experience for some individuals. If you are in constant need of help with medications for your anxiety, a service dog can assist you.

Use Distraction to Calm You Down

While service dogs are terrific for protection, keeping up with medications, and seeking help when you need it, they’re also great friends. When your service dog detects your anxiety rising, they can actually help to calm you down by using their awesome personalities. A service dog will provide a friendly paw or a sweet kiss on the face when they know you’re feeling anxious. They have an amazing ability to distract you from the stressful situation and remind you that they’re there to protect you. With proper service dog certification, you and your service dog can conquer the world together. Contact the National Service Animal Registry to learn more about how a service dog can help you today!

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Why You Should Make your Pet an Emotional Support Animal

Do you suffer from emotional or psychological issues? Do you depend on your pet to provide comfort in stressful situations? Have you ever felt unable to cope in a public place because you didn’t have your animal friend to keep you calm?

If the answer to any of these questions is yes, have you considered registering your pet as an emotional support animal?

Imagine how much easier life would be if you could be out and about with your emotional support dog, cat, or animal and not have to explain why you need them with you? Imagine having the peace of mind to know you could take them in the cabin of a plane without having to pay extra costs, or that you won’t ever have to justify them to your housing provider.

Maybe you already know that registering your pet as an emotional support animal would make a huge difference in your life, but you’re unfamiliar with or worry about the process.

We want you to know you are not alone. We have been helping people with emotional support animals for over 25 years, and we can use our knowledge and experience to guide you through the entire process. We can help you get the correct documentation, complete a lifetime registration, and even advise you about the equipment you need for your animal friend.

Registering your pet as an emotional support animal (ESA) is quick, easy, and affordable. Let’s start by outlining everything you need to know.

Ready to get started straight away? Click here to register your ESA

What is an Emotional Support Animal (ESA)?

Although an emotional support animal often starts out as a pet (dog, cat, and other domestic animals), for people who are living with an emotional or psychological health condition, they become so much more.

Unlike service animals, ESAs are often not trained to carry out specific tasks like service animals, but they help people with mental health conditions stay calm in a situation that might otherwise be a trigger for their symptoms.

For many people living with emotional or psychological health conditions, the presence of their emotional support animal gives them the support they need to get through daily life.

People with an emotional support dog, cat or other animal sometimes have conditions such as anxiety or depression. Others have emotional problems such as relationship issues that make coping with certain situations or daily life difficult. It could also be as simple as a fear of flying or another phobia that makes going on a trip or doing something related to their phobia unthinkable if they are not accompanied by their furry companion animal.

In order for a pet to become a legally recognized emotional support dog, cat, or animal, they must be prescribed by a licensed mental health professional such as a psychologist, a psychiatrist, or a therapist. This means that they are part of the treatment program for this person. Not currently working with a doctor or therapist? You should consider National Service Animal Registry’s a NO-RISK emotional support animal letter assessment.

To qualify, you must be considered emotionally disabled and have a letter from a licensed therapist to prove it. Some airlines and housing companies will accept a letter from a family doctor.

Almost all domesticated animals qualify to become an emotional support animal. The most common are dog and cats, but rabbits, mice, and rats are common too. Animals can be any age; the only requirement is they are manageable in public and don’t create a nuisance in the home.

What are the Benefits of Registering your Emotional Support Animal?

Puppy lying in a camera bag

It isn’t a legal requirement to register your emotional support animal, but there are tremendous benefits, including rights and protections.

  1. You can fly with your emotional support animal in the cabin with you without paying extra costs (The Air Carrier Access Act 49 U.S.C. 41705, Department of Transportation 14 C.F.R. Part 382)
  2. You have the right to live with your emotional support animal in housing where pets are not allowed, without being charged an extra fee (Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988)
  3. Although other public and private establishments (such as hotels, restaurants, taxis, theaters) are not legally required to let you enter with your assistance animal, many are sympathetic if the animal is registered and wears identifying patches or a vest and has an ID card.
  4. For many people, the biggest benefit is the peace of mind to know that their pet is recognized and identifiable as an assistance animal should they need to take advantage of the legal protections in the future, they are covered.

How To Register Your Emotional Support Animal

So, if believe you’d benefit from the advantages of registering your pet as an emotional support animal, you’re probably wondering how to get started. We’ve outlined the process below in three easy steps, but remember you don’t need to do it alone, you can contact us for help and advice at any stage.

Step 1: Get a Letter From a Licensed Therapist

If you don’t have a therapist or your therapist is unwilling to write an animal emotional support letter, National Service Animal Registry (NSAR) offers a NO-RISK emotional support animal letter assessment. National Service Animal Registry is the original and most trusted and referred online provider of ESA prescription letters in the United States, equipped with an extensive network of experienced licensed therapists across the nation who specialize in ESA assessments.

Step 2: Register your Emotional Support Animal
Dog sitting next to a laptop

Although you aren’t required to have your ESA letter before registering, you should register your emotional support animal and get the equipment you need to identify them when you’re out and about. If the registration process feels overwhelming, we can help. We offer three different emotional support animal kits, which we have created based on our experience to cater to people with different needs. We can help you decide which suits you best so you can be sure you make the right decision for your furry friend.

All three kits all include lifetime registration of your ESA as standard – that means you never have to register them again – plus registration in the National Service Dog Register, a frameable embossed certificate, an ESA ID card, and ID card leash clip.

Step 3: Get Out and About Easily with your Emotional Support Animal

Once your emotional support animal is registered and you have your equipment, you’re all set to get out and about together. You’ll be able to relax and have the peace of mind to know you don’t need to explain or justify having your emotional support animal with you, even when you fly. You might well be surprised about the welcome you receive in places that aren’t legally required to allow you to bring them inside, such as cafes and restaurants. And if ever you need to prove your pet is an emotional support animal to your housing provider, you’re all set!

Ready to get started? Click here to register your ESA

Registering Your Emotional Support Animal: Next Steps

We hope this article gave you all the information you need to work out whether registering your pet as an emotional support animal is right for you, and start the registration process.

If you need further help, take a look at our website: National Service Animal Registry. We’ve pulled together all the information you need to guide you through the process of registering your animal.

You can also contact us for further information. We can guide you through the process, provide help and advice about the most appropriate ESA registration kit to suit your emotional support animal and lifestyle, and provide any other help and advice you need.

We’ve helped countless people with emotional support dogs, cats, and animals over the last 25 years. We look forward to helping you too.