Pets: If you have a pet dog, (not recommended, but a common situation), we will help with procedures to have the dogs get along. Your pet dog will probably have special privileges (being allowed to go on the furniture, perhaps), and your Service Dog will have different rules, but dogs are okay with that set-up and will soon learn that different rules apply to them. Pet dogs get pet privileges, Service Dogs go by stricter rules. But that's okay--dogs like to work, and they like having clear boundaries and rules.
Dog parks: You really don't want to bring your Service Dog to a dog park. Dog parks are for pets, not Service Dogs, because your Service Dog is trained to work (and not to play with other dogs). Note that you will still want to play with your Service Dog when the dog is not workng, just not at a dog park. Basically, you want to want to continue the training of having your Service Dog to focus on you, so your Service Dog will not be looking to other dogs for attention and fun.
Friends' dogs: Likewise, you wouldn't want your Service Dog to be playing with friends' dogs. If you have to go over to a friend's house and they have a dog, it's best to leave your Service Dog at home because otherwise, the dogs would want to play, and you don't want to encourage that behavior. If there is a special situation (like you are going over to one person's house every single day) then maybe an exception might want to be made, but in general, you don't want your Service Dog to be playing with other dogs, but rather, you want your Service Dog focused on you.
When at home, when should we put the dog out to potty?
When at home, we recommend putting the dog out to potty at least three times a day: in the morning, after dinner, and before bedtime. If you have a fenced-in yard with a wooden fence, we also recommend installing a dog door into your back door.
Note that when you are out working out in public with your Service Dog, we recommend having the dog potty outside before you go into a building. Even though we recommend working only two hours at a time, it's easy, for instance, for a dog to confuse a mall that has trees with the outdoors. We always want to set you up for success, and this procedure helps a lot.
When at home, should the dog be allowed on the bed or couch?
Our default training is that the dog is not allowed on chairs or couchs, but if this behavior is desired for calming the handler, then you can decide later to relax this training. It's always easier to relax training than to train a behavior later. An exception: If the handler needs the dog to be in bed with them at night, we will train the dog in that manner.
- Note that a Service Dog is not legally allowed to go on chairs or couches in public.
When at home, how will the Service Dog behave with our cat?
We will give the dog exposure to cats (and most are good with them), but we highly recommend introducing the dog to your pet cat in a specific way, which we will supervise. It's best if the cat has claws because then the cat can communicate to the dog that he/she doesn't want to play. We will usually introduce them with the dog unleashed, but under our (and your) close supervision. The goal is to introduce the animals together in such a way that the dog won't chase the cat like a squirrel, but rather, the cat will stare down the dog (and worst case, the cat has its claws for protection). The cat should have a safe space (like a tall cat-tree or a room with a cat-door) where the cat can always go to feel completely safe from the dog. In this way, the cat has “agency” and can devise its own long-term strategy for living with the dog.
When at home, how should siblings treat the Service Dog?
If a child is to have the Service Dog, then you have a couple of options for siblings. If the siblings are old enough to have a lot of self-control, then best practice is to have the siblings not interact with the dog (which will encourage the dog to bond primarily to the handler). If the siblings are too young to have much self-control, then—it's not ideal—but we'll have to let the siblings play with the dog. (However, even in this case, you should give the handler and dog as much time together as possible so they can bond.)
When at home, how does a Service Dog ride in our car or SUV?
While there are many options available, most Service Dog handlers use one of the following two techniques:
- Put a crate in the back of your SUV (or in the back seat of your car), and then have the dog jump up into the crate.
- Have the dog wear his/her Service Dog vest (which has a handle on it), and string the seatbelt through the handle.
Either of these options keeps the dog safe and secure.
When at home, how long can a Service Dog be left in the house alone?
Usually a Service Dog is with their handler at all times (unless the dog is for a child, and then the dog is usually home with a stay-at-home parent), but there can be times when a dog has to be left home alone.
We have hesitated for a long time in posting the answer to this question because we don't want to encourage separating a people-oriented Service Dog from their handler or family. However, we recognize that circumstances do come up when a dog has to be left home alone (and sometimes, it might just be for an hour or two). In this case, we usually recommend leaving the dog in his/her crate with a new bone to chew on, and then the dog can then go eight hours without peeing.