What is a service dog

The PSD Academy & Registry teaches trainers, training companies, non-profit organizations, and service dog owners to train psychiatric, mobility, and neurological service dogs properly and successfully. We also register trainers that have completed our one year academy, as well as the service dogs that have been trained by PSD Academy and our approved trainers. We will not register a dog that has not been trained with the assistance of an approved PSD Academy trainer, nor will we register a trainer that has not completed our academy. Our company has the highest standards in the service dog industry. Our intent is to prevent people from passing a pet dog, therapy dog, or emotional support dog as a "service dog", and to exclude trainers with no psychiatric service dog experience as psychiatric service dog trainers. People that do not truly need a service dog are making having a true task trained and advanced obedience trained service dog harder on those people that do. Also, trainers that claim to be psychiatric service dog trainers and are not are wasting people’s time, money, and in some cases, ruining their chances for successful psychiatric service dog training due to their lack of knowledge and skill.


The following definition for "service animal" is provided by the Department of Justice:

Service animal means any dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability. Other species of animals, whether wild or domestic, trained or untrained, are not service animals for the purposes of this definition. The work or tasks performed by a service animal must be directly related to the handler's disability. Examples of work or tasks include, but are not limited to, assisting individuals who are blind or have low vision with navigation and other tasks, alerting individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing to the presence of people or sounds, providing non-violent protection or rescue work, pulling a wheelchair, assisting an individual during a seizure, alerting individuals to the presence of allergens, retrieving items such as medicine or the telephone, providing physical support and assistance with balance and stability to individuals with mobility disabilities, and helping persons with psychiatric and neurological disabilities by preventing or interrupting impulsive or destructive behaviors. The crime deterrent effects of an animal's presence and the provision of emotional support, well-being, comfort, or companionship do not constitute work or tasks for the purposes of this definition.
Department of Justice: 28 CFR Part 35 - Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Disability in State and Local Government Services

What is a service dog?

A psychiatric service dog is a dog that has been trained to perform tasks specific to an individuals psychiatric disability. A psychiatric service dog is a dog that is extremely in tune to their owners emotional needs and will react immediately when needed. For examples of psychiatric disabilities please visit our psychiatric disabilities page.

Is an emotional support dog a service dog?

An emotional support dog is a dog that provides comfort to their owner by being by their side. Although they do help their handlers, they are not considered "service dogs". To be considered a service dog the dog MUST perform service tasks that are specific to their handlers individual disability. A service dog performs a tasks whereas an emotional support dog provides comfort but is not "task trained". They are not allowed in public facilities such as stores, restaurants, malls, libraries, etc. For examples of "tasks" please visit our task gallery.

What is a therapy dog?

A therapy dog is a dog that is well trained in obedience and manners that visits hospitals, nursing homes, etc. The job of a therapy dog is to lift the spirits of patients at these facilities. Therapy dogs provide a wonderful service to patients however are not "service dogs". They are not allowed in public facilities such as stores, restaurants, malls, libraries, etc. For information on therapy dogs you can contact your local therapy dog group.

Does my disability qualify for a service dog?

The following is the legal definition of the term "disability," as described in Sec. 12102: Definition of disability in the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), including changes made by the ADA Amendments Act of 2008 (P.L. 110-325)

  1. DISABILITY- The term “disability” means, with respect to an individual--
    1. a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities of such individual;
    2. a record of such an impairment; or
    3. being regarded as having such an impairment (as described in paragraph (3)).
    1. IN GENERAL- For purposes of paragraph (1), major life activities include, but are not limited to, caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, seeing, hearing, eating, sleeping, walking, standing, lifting, bending, speaking, breathing, learning, reading, concentrating, thinking, communicating, and working.
    2. MAJOR BODILY FUNCTIONS- For purposes of paragraph (1), a major life activity also includes the operation of a major bodily function, including but not limited to, functions of the immune system, normal cell growth, digestive, bowel, bladder, neurological, brain, respiratory, circulatory, endocrine, and reproductive functions.
  3. REGARDED AS HAVING SUCH AN IMPAIRMENT- For purposes of paragraph (1)(C):
    1. An individual meets the requirement of ‘being regarded as having such an impairment’ if the individual establishes that he or she has been subjected to an action prohibited under this Act because of an actual or perceived physical or mental impairment whether or not the impairment limits or is perceived to limit a major life activity.
    2. Paragraph (1)(C) shall not apply to impairments that are transitory and minor. A transitory impairment is an impairment with an actual or expected duration of 6 months or less.
  4. RULES OF CONSTRUCTION REGARDING THE DEFINITION OF DISABILITY- The definition of ‘disability’ in paragraph (1) shall be construed in accordance with the following:
    1. The definition of disability in this Act shall be construed in favor of broad coverage of individuals under this Act, to the maximum extent permitted by the terms of this Act.
    2. The term ‘substantially limits’ shall be interpreted consistently with the findings and purposes of the ADA Amendments Act of 2008.
    3. An impairment that substantially limits one major life activity need not limit other major life activities in order to be considered a disability.
    4. An impairment that is episodic or in remission is a disability if it would substantially limit a major life activity when active.
      1. The determination of whether an impairment substantially limits a major life activity shall be made without regard to the ameliorative effects of mitigating measures such as--
        1. medication, medical supplies, equipment, or appliances, low-vision devices (which do not include ordinary eyeglasses or contact lenses), prosthetics including limbs and devices, hearing aids and cochlear implants or other implantable hearing devices, mobility devices, or oxygen therapy equipment and supplies;
        2. use of assistive technology;
        3. reasonable accommodations or auxiliary aids or services; or
        4. learned behavioral or adaptive neurological modifications.
      2. The ameliorative effects of the mitigating measures of ordinary eyeglasses or contact lenses shall be considered in determining whether an impairment substantially limits a major life activity.
      3. As used in this subparagraph--
        1. the term ‘ordinary eyeglasses or contact lenses’ means lenses that are intended to fully correct visual acuity or eliminate refractive error; and
        2. the term ‘low-vision devices’ means devices that magnify, enhance, or otherwise augment a visual image.

Do I have to register my service dog?

A registration is not required to have or take a service dog into public. We are here to provide training, materials, and support for you and your service dog. We have found that having the registration makes it easier on the individual but is not required.

How do I handle being told that I can't bring my service dog into public?

Calmly and rationally. The best way to handle it is to be ready for it because it will happen. Most people are not familiar with service dogs, especially psychiatric service dogs. Have a dialog ready for when it does happen. "This is my service dog. The ADA laws require all public places to allow access to individuals and their service dogs."