Can state certification requirements for service dogs override the ADA?

I have PTSD, and want to train my dog as a service doge. The ADA states that service dogs do not need any specific certification, but Texas law says that SD have to be trained by a state-sanctioned agency. Not only that, but disabled persons must also take a certified training course on the use of their dog!

I was under the impression that federal law generally overrides state, but I certainly don't want to have an illegal SD. Anyone know how I could find this out for sure?

12 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    The ADA does not apply to trainers or dogs in training. It applies only to dogs that have completed training and are partnered with a person with a disability.

    Certain documents, including correspondence between the Department of Justice and members of Congress, are available under the Freedom of Information Act. Here is such a letter, discussing training under the ADA:

    You can get further clarification by calling the U.S. Department of Justice's Americans with Disabilities Act information line (toll-free) at:

    800 - 514 - 0301 (voice)

    800 - 514 - 0383 (TTY)

    After your dog is trained, and assuming you meet the legal definition of "disabled," then you can disregard your state's training course for handlers requirement because at that point you will qualify for protections under the ADA.


    Someone asked what a service dog could do for a person with PTSD. Here's a sample list:

    Source(s): I'm a service dog trainer and disability advocate.
  • Anonymous
    4 years ago

    Many places require all dogs to be lisenced. Why not have the disabled owner fill out a form at the same time as getting the liscence certifying that they are a person with a disability that significantly limits major life functions, and that the dog has recieved extensive training in obedience and skills to mitigate the disability. There could even be a form required to be signed by a doctor like those that are required to get a disabled placard. A police station or drivers liscence location could easily take these forms and check them. There could also be an online site where users register their service dog(s) or service dogs in training. They could list what specific tasks the dog does and say how the dog has been trained. Their doctor could sign in to verify the disability or fill out a form to mail in. A liscence tag could come in the mail. Having at least a way to get a tag that says service dog would be good. If your area does not require a rabies tag then you might not be able to take your dog places where rabies tags are absolutely required. Get a rabies tag and a service dog tag at the same time, even if you have to do it at the same time. There will always be fakers. But having a website with guidelines that people have to verify that they read it is a start. There could also be an ID number on the tag so that business owners can check the website to see if the tag is legitimate. The website could give very basic information like the type and color of the dog and what city it is registered in. The person could be traveling outside their own city, but there should be an identification tag on the dog that gives their city or phone number which the area code gives an approximate location of where the owner lives. This wouldn't be perfect and it would not be good to have to show your tag everywhere you go. But the business owner should be allowed to see the tag if the dog does not act right or appear to be a service dog (ie someone says the dog provides balance as a task but the dog is too tiny). I personally would prefer to show my tag when I enter a store rather than tell the person what tasks the dog does. Telling them the tasks gives them an idea of what my disability is. They should still ask "Is that a service dog" and usually leave you alone. But they should be allowed to see the tag and write down the ID to check the website when questions arise. This would be good because by using the tag the owner says they have read the rules and their dog is a legitimate service dog. This would mean that fakers could be prosecuted more easily since it is provable that they knew the law. There could also be an audit to identify fakers. Some things on the registration form could trigger an investigation like someone who suddenly needs to have their dog everywhere but has worked full time for a long time. They could have an additional form sent to them or their doctors. There could also be a way for business owners to complain on the website about a certain dog. That complaint would not be visible to anyone except the website worker (not even the owner).Boxes could be checked on the website to the type of complaint (like bad grooming, sick dog, ill-mannered, aggressive, not trainedm, etc). If a certain number of complaints came up or the complainer marked a box that said the dog was aggressive then that person could be investigated. The funding for the investigators could come from people who fake a service dog. Those who knowingly fake a service dog should have huge fines, like $20,000. Those who really think they should have a service dog but disregard the requirements to be actually disabled or have a trained dog should have a smaller fine. They shouldn't have to go to jail because they won't be able to make money there and it costs too much to put someone in jail.

  • 1 decade ago

    If a person is covered under both state and federal laws then a person is able to claim discrimination at either level, whichever they feel would give them the best coverage. Some states issue fines to businesses refusing access which the ADA does not do. To claim discrimination against someone for refusing access under the ADA one would need to go through a couple years of legal battles. While education is generally the easiest way to solve complaints, mediation may sometimes also be needed.

    But as others have already said even with the most carefully bred and raised dogs, like guide dogs there is no guarantee that the dog will make the grade. Before you begin any training you need to have a plan in place as to what you will do if the dog will not make it. Research has shown that less than 1% of dogs in the general dog population has what it takes to be a service dog and so your chances of succeeding are very very slim. The first step is to find a good service dog trainer as you certainly cannot train a service without the help and support of a professional trainer.

    Source(s): Service dog handler and disability advocate
  • Anonymous
    5 years ago

    This Site Might Help You.


    Can state certification requirements for service dogs override the ADA?

    I have PTSD, and want to train my dog as a service doge. The ADA states that service dogs do not need any specific certification, but Texas law says that SD have to be trained by a state-sanctioned agency. Not only that, but disabled persons must also take a certified training course on the use...

    Source(s): state certification requirements service dogs override ada:
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  • 5 years ago

    First the statements like "The ADA says you can use a service dog. But it does not define what a service dog is, the requirements, etc." is bad advice.

    The ADA defined a "service dog" as one that performs "tasks"that disabled person can not do for their self. Also that the the service dog must perform at least 2 of these tasks. These tasks can be to help with visual, hearing or mental disabilites. It is the tasks they do that counts.

    There are several pieces to the puzzle in defining a task.

    a good page to read on

    this also has link to full ADA and court cases.

    Also because the ADA is a federal law it over rides state law.

  • Anonymous
    6 years ago

    Go here for the best dog training couse

    Since it is obvious that you do not have a clue about obedience training, your services should be for free. You cannot train even an adult dog for 8 hours a day. About the most that can be done at any one time is 10 - 20 minutes and that is with an adult dog and not a puppy. The attention span on this baby is extremely short and training session should be no more than 10 minutes and twice a day. Additionally, there isn't going to be much learned if you will only be training for 5 days. Obedience training is cumulative and is done over a much longer period of at least several weeks to several months.

    What you can charge is determined by your experience, reputation, and accomplishments and in a case like this, should also include guaranteed expectations. Just working with dogs over several years, is not the experience that is necessary to be a dog trainer. There are too many people who are putting that title to their name and fleecing the public. Don't be one of them.

  • 5 years ago

    There are a few real keys to dog training, whether you are trying to train your dog to come when called, sit, stop barking or any other behavior. Understanding their importance is critical to achieving rapid results that are long lasting and help develop the bond between you and your dog. Read more here

    The first is simple; you must win your dogs mind. If you don’t achieve this first then you will be struggling the all the way. When I talk about winning your dogs mind what I really mean is that your dog looks to you for all the decisions. Before you do anything else watch one of the amazing video sites that show you the 5 Golden rules to establishing yourself as the pack leader. If you aren’t putting these in place then you are setting yourself up to fail. Just at the crucial point where you really want your dog to listen they will go and do their own thing. For sure your dog may play ball occasionally or even most of the time, you may even have a dog that is obedient 99% of the time, however if you want a dog who always listens to you and does as you ask then you need to win your dogs mind.

    The second key to success is to motivate your dog. It is really important that you discover what it is that your dog enjoys both in terms of exercise and play but also in terms of a reward. If you can make the experience enjoyable then you will both achieve more and look forward to training.

    Some dogs love to fetch, others love agility, and other dogs simply love obedience training, or swimming out into water and retrieve. At least to start with find out what your dogs love is and help them develop this, what I am saying is work with your dog. The other point to recognize is to make training enjoyable reward your dog.

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    Let me just say that a service dog is a highly trained dog with an excellent temperament and physical health. If your dog was not selected for this type of work, chances are slim that he will be able to make the grade as a service dog.

    Your psychiatric illness must be disabling as defined by the ADA. Speak with your medical professional to see if you qualify.

    The law with that offers the greater protection to the person with the disability will prevail.

    Source(s): disabled, knowledgeable about service dogs
  • 1 decade ago

    The ADA most certainly does define what "disabled" is and what a "service dog" is.

    What the ADA does NOT define or mention is a dog-in-training. THAT is where the State law comes into effect. If the dog (or handler) does not meet the criteria set forth in the Federal ADA, then the State law applies.

    If the dog and handler do meet the Federal ADA criteria, then the law that provides the greater protection (whether it is State or Federal) is the one that applies.

    But the first requirement that must be met is that one has to be legally qualified as "disabled". This is not a medical concern, but a legal one. A simple "doctors note" is not legal qualification or proof of a disability. One must be legally verified and qualified as "disabled" AND the dog must be trained in work or tasks that mitigate the life-limiting effects of the qualifying disability or the dog is not considered a service dog. The simple presence of the dog ("I feel so much better when Fluffums is here with me.") is not legally considered work or a task and will not qualify a dog as a service dog. The dog must do something for the handler that the handler cannot do for themselves.

    Source(s): Husband of Guide dog user (actual working Service Dog) and a 4-H Guide puppy raiser (a dog-in-training)...knowing both ends of the law.
  • 5 years ago

    The owner of the dog needs to know how to "operate" the dog, same way you can get into a car that's in perfect running order but if you don't know how to drive you won't have much luck making the car go anywhere. If the owner doesn't know how to maintain the training, the dog will soon become untrained again. Read more here

    People seem to think that once a dog is trained, that's it. Not true. You must reinforce the dog's training every single day in some way. It's best if the owner and the dog go together to get trained. As a professional trainer once said to me "We can train any dog in 2 days. It takes longer to train the owners

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