Certify Your Service Dog

Texas Service Dogs

Public Access Test

1-hour long in Austin, TX

Fee: $300 payable to http://www.paypal.me/texasservicedogs

According to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), your service dog must be trained or otherwise able to perform an essential function (major life task) for you that you cannot perform for yourself because of your disability. Texas Service Dogs follows Assistance Dogs International (ADI) and International Association of Assistance Dog Partners (IAADP) standards for public access test and certification. If team meets or exceeds our minimum standards and passes the Public Access Certification Test, we will supply certifying identification and Texas Service Dogs logoed patches for the service dog vest.

Disabled persons who want to join Texas Service Dogs as a certified service dog team must have a professionally trained guide, hearing or service dog or a dog at least twelve months old whom they have trained to meet or exceed our and IAADP’s Minimum Training Standards. If you are looking for a private trainer to work with your dog or search for a service dog prospect for you, we recommend contacting The Whole Shebang – Pet Services in Austin, TX. If you are looking to get a fully-trained service dog who was trained by us, please visit section Get A Service Dog by clicking here. Our fully-trained service dogs and their disabled handler will also go through the Public Access Certifications Test together.

It’s important that your service dog is adequately trained to qualify as a service dog because they will accompany you into any publicly accessible area, including restaurants, museums, airports and airplanes, theaters, stores, parks, etc.

How will you know when your dog is ready to graduate from an “in training” status to the status of a full fledged assistance dog with whom you are entitled to have public access rights?

An excellent tool for evaluating a team’s readiness to graduate [e.g. finish up formal training] is the Public Access Certification Test (PACT) which can be found on the website of Assistance Dogs International at www.assistancedogsinternational.org The ADI Public Access Certification Test was developed over 15 years ago as a consumer protection measure by the ADI Team Testing Committee, which included input from both providers and IAADP Partner members. Overall, the goal of the test is to discover whether or not a particular team is ready to go places out in public without trainer supervision. The safety of the dog, the handler and the public were the main considerations in developing the specific exercises for testing the team.

This test creates a level playing field, since it does not matter whether it is a guide, hearing or service dog team being tested or who trained the dog. What matters is the team’s performance. Every ADI program is required to administer this test before graduating and credentialing a team.

Purpose: The purpose of the Public Access Test is to ensure that dogs and other animals certified by Texas Service Dogs are stable, well-behaved, and unobtrusive to the public; that you have control over the dog and that, as a team, you do not pose a public hazard.

*** It is highly likely that the test be video taped to document that the team passed it.***

Immediate Dismissal: Any assistance dog or other animal that displays aggressive behavior (barking, growling, biting, raising hackles, showing teeth, etc.) or exhibits otherwise unmanageable and immediately correctable behavior will not qualify as a service dog under our standards.

Your service dog must demonstrate that he/she is safe to be in public, and you demonstrate that you have control of your dog at all times.

IAADP Minimum Training Standards for Public Access

1. Amount of Schooling: an assistance dog should be given a minimum of one hundred twenty (120) hours of schooling over a period of Six Months or more. **At least thirty (30) hours should be devoted to outings that will prepare the dog to work obediently and unobtrusively in public places.**

Texas Service Dogs require this proof of training hours through a log or the passing of a AKC Canine Good Citizen test.

2. Obedience Training: a dog must master the basic obedience skills: “Sit, Stay, Come, Down, Heel” and a dropped leash recall in a store in response to verbal commands and/or hand signals.

3. Manners: a dog must acquire proper social behavior skills. It includes at a minimum:

No aggressive behavior toward people or other animals – no biting, snapping, snarling, growling or lunging and barking at them when working off your property.

No soliciting food or petting from other people while on duty.

No sniffing merchandise or people or intruding into another dog’s space while on duty.

Socialize to tolerate strange sights, sounds, odors etc. in a wide variety of public settings.

Ignores food on the floor or dropped in the dog’s vicinity while working outside the home.

Works calmly on leash. No unruly behavior or unnecessary vocalizations in public settings.

No urinating or defecating in public unless given a specific command or signal to toilet in an appropriate place.

4. Disability Related Tasks: the dog must be individually trained to perform identifiable tasks on command or cue for the benefit of the disabled human partner. This includes alerting to sounds, medical problems, certain scents like peanuts or situations if training is involved.

5. Prohibited Training: Any training that arouses a dog’s prey drive or fear to elicit a display of aggression for guard or defense purposes is strictly prohibited. Non aggressive barking as a trained behavior is permitted in appropriate situations.

* The 120 hours of schooling includes the time invested in homework training sessions between obedience classes or lessons from an experienced dog trainer. ** To prove eligibility of meeting Certification Minimum Training Standards for Public Access you be may required to turn in a weekly training log to document your dog received a minimum of 120 hours of schooling over a period of six months or more.

Commands: Commands may be given to the service dog verbally, via hand signals, or a combination of both.

CONTROLLED UNLOAD OUT OF A VEHICLE: The service dog must wait until released before coming out of the vehicle. Once outside, it must wait quietly unless otherwise instructed by the Individual. The service dog may not run around, be off lead, or ignore commands. Essentially, the service dog should be unobtrusive and unloaded in the safest manner possible.

APPROACHING A BUILDING: After unloading, the service dog should stay in a relative heel position and not forge ahead or lag behind. The service dog should not display a fear of cars or traffic noises and must display a relaxed attitude. When you stop for any reason, the service dog should also stop.

CONTROLLED ENTRY THROUGH A DOORWAY: Upon entering a building, the service dog should not wander off or seek attention from the public. The service animal should wait quietly until you are fully inside, and then should calmly walk beside you. The service dog must not pull or strain against the lead or try to push its way past the individual but should wait patiently while entry is completed.

HEELING THROUGH A BUILDING: Once inside a building, you and your service dog should be able to walk through the area in a controlled manner. The service dog should always be within touching distance where applicable or no greater than a foot away from you. The service dog should not seek public attention or strain against the lead (except in cases where the service dog may be pulling your wheelchair, if applicable). The service dog should readily adjust to speed changes, turn corners promptly, and travel through a crowded area without interacting with the public. In tight quarters, such as store aisles, the service dog must be able to get out of the way of obstacles and not destroy merchandise by knocking it over or by playing with it.

SIX FOOT RECALL ON LEAD: You should be able to sit your dog, leave it, travel six feet, then turn and call the service dog to you. The service dog should respond promptly and not stop to solicit attention from the public or ignore the command. The service dog should come close enough to you to be readily touched. The recall should be smooth and deliberate without your service dog trudging to you or taking any detours along the way.

SITS ON COMMAND: Your service dog must respond promptly each time you give it a sit command, with no more than two commands with no extraordinary gestures.

DOWNS ON COMMAND: After your service dog follows the down command, food should be dropped on the floor. Your service dog should not break the down to go for the food or sniff at the food. You may give verbal and physical corrections to maintain the down, but without any extraordinary gestures. The second down will be executed, and then an adult and child should approach your dog. The service dog should maintain the down and not solicit attention. If the child pets the dog, the service animal must behave appropriately and not break the stay. The individual may give verbal and physical corrections if the service dog begins to break the stay.

NOISE DISTRACTION: Your service dog may acknowledge nearby noises, but may not in any way show aggression or fear. A normal startle reaction is fine (the service dog may jump and or turn), but the service dog should quickly recover and continue along on the heel. The service dog should not become aggressive, begin shaking, etc.

RESTAURANT: While seated at a dining table (restaurant or other suitably alternative location), your service dog should go under the table or, if size prevents that, stay close by the individual. If the service dog is a very small breed and is placed on the seat beside you, it must lie down. The service dog must sit or lie down and may move a bit for comfort during the meal, but should not be up and down a lot or need a lot of correction or reminding.

OFF LEAD: While your service dog is on the leash, drop the leash while moving so it is apparent to the dog. You should be able to maintain control of the service dog and get the leash back in its appropriate position. This exercise will vary greatly depending on your disability. The main concern is that the service dog be aware that the leash is dropped and that the person is able to maintain control of the dog and get the leash back into proper position.

CONTROLLED UNIT: When you leave a building with your service dog on leash, the dog should be in appropriate heel position and not display any fear of vehicle or traffic sounds.

Disability mitigating tasks or work are not critiqued during the test. However, to establish a dog’s eligibility to take this test to become an assistance dog, ADI programs would ask for a demo in advance of at least three service dog tasks, three hearing dog sound alerts or a series of tasks known as “guide dog work.” To document the dog performs tasks in the home such as seizure response work, alerting to an attack of hypoglycemia late at night or fetching a portable phone or beverage, and we may ask the client to submit a video tape of the task(s).

The Public Access Test evaluates the dog’s obedience and manners and the handler’s skills in a variety of situations which include:

A. The handler’s abilities to: ( 1 ) safely load and unload the dog from a vehicle; ( 2 ) enter a public place without losing control of the dog; ( 3 ) to recover the leash if accidently dropped, and ( 4 ) to cope calmly with an access problem if an employee or customer questions the individual’s right to bring a dog into that establishment.

B. The dog’s ability to: ( 1 ) safely cross a parking lot, halt for traffic, and ignore distractions; ( 2 ) heel through narrow aisles; ( 3 ) hold a Sit-Stay when a shopping cart passes by or when a person stops to chat and pets the dog; (4 ) hold a Down Stay when a child approaches and briefly pets the dog; ( 5 ) hold a Sit Stay when someone drops food on the floor; hold a Down Stay when someone sets a plate of food on the floor within 18″ of the dog, then removes it a minute later. [the handler may say “Leave It” to help the dog resist the temptation.] ( 6 ) remain calm if someone else holds the leash while the handler moves 20 ft. away; ( 7 ) remain calm while another dog passes within 6 ft. of the team during the test. This can occur in a parking lot or store. Alternatively, you could arrange for a neighbor with a pet dog to stroll past your residence while you load your dog into a vehicle at the beginning of the test.

We agree with IAADP and ADI’s ethical position that the amount of training given to an assistance dog should NEVER fall below the minimum level needed to pass this Public Access Test.

NOTE: We will furnish Texas Service Dogs patches and laminated photo ID Card signed and dated by the provider, certifying this dog [insert name] has been trained for the disabled client [insert name] as a Service Dog for the Disabled. [or as a guide or hearing dog] On the rear side, there is a helpful statement about the state or federal law granting access rights to disabled handlers and at the top, a reference to the state law, citing its numbers, and/ or the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA).


What is a Task?

A disability related task is a certain desired behavior or set of behaviors the dog is trained to habitually perform in response to a command or a particular situation such as the onset of a seizure, which cues the dog to perform a task. The task must be related to your disabling condition, helping you in some way.

What is meant by “individually trained”?

A dog has been “individually trained” to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of a disabled individual when the dog is deliberately taught to exhibit the desired behavior or sequence of behaviors by rewarding the dog for the right response(s) and communicating, if only through silence, when the dog has made the wrong response in a particular situation. A task is learned when the dog reliably exhibits the desired behavior whenever needed to assist his/her partner on command or cue. An example of work that is individually trained would be that performed by a guide dog, who takes directional commands, goes around obstacles in the team’s path, halts to indicate a curb or some other change in elevation and refuses the “Forward” command in specific situations that would result in injury, such as an automobile entering the team’s path. Examples of individually trained tasks include retrieving a phone, providing deep pressure therapy during a panic attack or providing balance support on a staircase to prevent a fall.

What is NOT an individually trained task?

Spontaneous behavior a dog occasionally exhibits such as licking someone’s face or barking does not qualify as a “trained task” under ADA even if it accidentally or coincidentally has a beneficial result. While everyone enjoys the emotional, social and safety benefits that a dog’s presence can provide, those benefits do not constitute trained tasks that would transform a disabled person’s pet into a legitimate Service Dog under ADA.

Why are individually trained Tasks so important?

Trained tasks that mitigate the effects of a disabling condition are the legal basis for granting access rights to disabled handlers under the Americans With Disabilities Act. An assistance dog with this special training is viewed as assistive technology / medical equipment, not as a pet. Businesses have the right to ask a disabled person, “What Tasks does your service animal perform?” This question can be asked if there is any doubt about the dog’s legal status and whether to impose their restrictive pet policies. An acceptable answer might be, “my service dog is trained to get help for me in a medical crisis by ____________.” (Fill in the blank as to the specific task) You do not have to reveal your disability in formulating your reply.

Businesses also have the right to exclude any animal, including a service animal, who threatens the health or safety of other people through aggressive or unruly behavior. An assistance dog can also be evicted for disruptive behavior that interferes with a business providing goods or services. The DOJ used the example of a dog barking in a movie theater.

CERTIFICATION is not required in the USA. Many states lack programs willing to certify dogs that did not go through that program’s training course. The DOJ decided to foster “an honor system,” by making the tasks the dog is trained to perform on command or cue to assist a disabled person, rather than certification ID from specific programs, the primary way to differentiate between a service animal and a pet. It opened the door for people to train their own assistance dog, usually with the help of an experienced trainer, if a program dog is unavailable.

Our Policy Prohibiting the Enrollment of Protection Trained or Aggressive dogs

Any dog who is protection trained, attack trained or one who exhibits aggressive behavior in violation of our Minimum Training Standards for Public Access is NOT eligible for enrollment as an Assistance Dog with Texas Service Dogs, or renewal, no matter what disability related tasks or alerts the dog is said to perform. If an IAADP Partner member’s dog later displays aggressive behavior and cannot be rehabilitated within a reasonable time period, ethically, that dog should be retired as unfit for duty outside the home, as the dog does not qualify as an assistance dog under our Minimum Training Standards for Public Access. Non aggressive barking as a trained behavior will be acceptable in appropriate situations.