There are a wide range of service dog supplies, from backpacks to capes and from bags to harnesses, that make life easier for you and your dogs.
Although service dog owners are not required by federal law to carry identification cards, having one handy can help avoid potential hassles in the event a business owner questions allowing you access to his or her establishment with your dog.
About the size of a credit card, I.D. cards typically feature the owner's name, service dog's name, and service dog's picture. Most cards also include verbiage about the legalities of access.
You can purchase cards from training organizations or online. A variety of service dog supplies also make it easier for dogs and their owners to be easily seen and perform tasks.
Vests help readily identify service dogs and increase overall visibility for both of you. Look for a service dog vest that is made with comfortable, lightweight material and reflective trim, which will make your dog easy to see from all angles. The material should also be durable and water resistant so your dog can wear the vest in all types of weather without damaging it.
Patches and Bandanas
Patches that say, "Service dog" or "Do not pet," can be sewn onto vests and capes to identify your dog. Bandanas, which can be tied around a dog's neck, can also be used as a way of identifying your dog as an aide.
Collars and Leashes
You can purchase special collars that are designed to identify your dog as a service animal. The words, "service dog," may also be imprinted on leashes. Some handlers may prefer to use leashes that wrap around their bodies and leave their hands free.
If you use a wheelchair or other type of mobility aid, look for a leash that can be safely attached. You may also want to choose a leash that is made with reflective material to ensure that you and your service dog can be easily seen from distance.
Harnesses are designed to fit securely on service dogs and provide handlers with better stability when they are balancing or moving. Look for a harness that is padded and has adjustable chest and girth straps to maximize your service dog's comfort.
If your dog is trained to help pull your wheelchair, discuss equipment requirements with your trainer. Look for a harness (not a collar) that attaches to a wheelchair and stays upright while your dog s helping to pull your chair.
If you need your dog to carry small items for you, you can purchase an accessory pack and attach it to the support harness.
If you need your service dog to carry several items at a time, get a backpack or saddle bag for him or her. Just keep in mind that dogs should never carry more than 15% of their own body weight.
Manuals, Books, and DVDs
If you're planning to train your service dog by yourself or need insights to reinforce previous training initiatives, you may want to consider buying supplemental training manuals, books and DVDs. A number of these instructional guides are on the market and help you teach your dog commands, provide behavioral training, and tackle common problems.
Having the right service dog supplies and equipment is essential to the well-being of service dogs and their owners. The cost of maintaining your dog's health and skills typically qualifies as a medical expense, according to the Internal Revenue Service.
This means that service dog supplies may also be tax deductible. Check with your tax advisor to confirm what you can and cannot deduct.
For information about the different types of service dogs, please click here: The Role of Assistance Dogs.
Types of Service Dogs
Service Dog Training: An Overview
Requirements for Training Aide Dogs
Certification - Is it Necessary?
Tips and Resources for Finding Training Schools
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Published by Jules Sowder
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