How It Works and FAQ.
Service Dog FAQ
How does an Allergen Detection Dog Work?
- Like any other Service Dog, an Allergen Detection Dog goes through about 1.5-2 years of training to learn
1) How to behave in public
2) How to do their job (or task) in increasingly difficult environments.
3) How to ignore environmental stimulus such as crashing plates, people yelling, food on shelves or on the floor, etc.
4) How to ignore direct stimulus such as drive by pets, food being presented for allergen testing, and people trying to feed the dog just to name a few.
Once the dog has completed the training, they will then be covered by the ADA and be allowed almost anywhere the general public is allowed with a few exceptions, such as burn wards, or parts of zoo's as they alter the nature of the environment. While in training, the dog will be covered by state laws, as not all states grant access to service dogs in training.
Where can I get my dog certified or registered?
- In the United States according to the ADA, there is no national certification or registration, and any registration or certification that may be purchased holds no legal standing. Upon graduation the dog will receive a diploma from Living Pawsitive but it is not a certification or registration. Some states or counties have a voluntary registry, you can ask for more details when registering your dog as a pet. These are not legally required, and federal law over-rides state.
What breeds can do this work?
- While any breed or mix may be able to do scent work, certain breeds (and their mixes) are more prone to succeeding. Even the best programs with the best bred dogs have a wash (essentially early retirement) rate of about 50%. The breeds that succeed the most are Labs, Goldens, Poodles and Collies. Hounds are generally discouraged as they can be too easily distracted by their nose, and larger breeds such as Great Danes have a shorter life span and are more difficult to work due to their size (ex: settling at a restaurant, they cannot easily tuck underneath the table) and are usually only recommended if heavy mobility is needed. Herding breeds such as German Shepherds or Australian Shepherds must have a stable and steady handler, as they can easily become overwhelmed and feed off of their handler's anxiety. Any breed with high prey drive such as terriers largely depend on the individual. Independent breeds such as Huskies are also discouraged due to difficulty to train and how difficult allergen/gluten detection is. Brachycephalic breeds such as boxers and pugs are also discouraged due to their shortened faces causing breathing problems and can make it more difficult for them to smell. For mixes or purebreds, the dog should be healthy (preferably in athletic weight), have an even temperament (no reactivity or history of aggression), should be easy to train, food motivated, and eager to work. We do not support buying a dog from a pet store (as most of those dogs are from puppy mills), or backyard breeders (as they may or may not know what they're doing and could easily end up with an aggressive or sick dog). If you decide to get a purebred please choose a responsible breeder. The AKC has information on how to select a reputable breeder.