I am not “whatever” about fake service dogs.
Top ten ways one can tell a “service dog” is a fake:
10. The dog is not on leash. I mean. The leash is to keep the dog safe…not the humans. There are a lot of dumb humans out there. Fake service dog owners don’t get this. They think, my dog is so nice and sweet he won’t do anything to anyone…..ugh.
9. The dog is not well groomed. If the dog looks and smells like a pet it probably is. Real handlers take pride in their four legged partners. They know we will be in public, and have to have the same level of grooming most humans have. (In my case, more…I smell good)
8. The dog jumps up on random people. I mean, come on. Pet dogs shouldn’t even do that. Have some class.
7. The dog is in the way. Real service dogs have been trained to get out of the way. That means in the middle of a large crowd, me, a 75 lb black lab, can pretty much disappear. I was trained to do that. Its great when we go places and people gasp when they see me, because they have been right next to me for an hour and they didn’t even know! “I didn’t even know there was a dog here” = “My puppy raisers and trainers did their job well!”
6. The dog has a huge vest with lots of official looking patches. Over kill? Compensating? Yeah. The handler should be able to regulate the random petting and other such infractions from the humans. Train the dog not the entire public! Professionally trained service dogs are issued with vests. Demure vests. We don’t need to shout that we are trained. We can whisper. We are that good.
5. The dog eats everything off the ground. As much as I would LOVE to do this, it’s just not right. And it’s not safe. And it’s not healthy. Fake service dogs and their owners just think it’s cute. As if.
4. The dog drags the handler around. Pet peeve of mine. Like who wants to drag their human around anyways? Oh yeah, common pets. That’s who. Service dogs have more important things to do than drag a human around. Like alerting on high and low blood sugars. Or actually performing a SERVICE!
3. The dog is anxious. Nervous. Obviously uncomfortable in public. Real service dogs are trained by their puppy raisers and other trainers to handle many different situations. They train us so we are calm. Relaxed. Chilled. Everywhere. Essentially, they train us to be “whatever”. (I just had a jump start since I was born “whatever”) If these humans knew they were making their fake service dogs nervous and anxious maybe they would think twice about trying to pass them off as real. It’s really abusive if you ask me. (Btw the mom met Temple Grandin. Yes the Temple Grandin. There was a guy with a fake service dog in line and Temple told him to get the dog out of there because it was nervous and scared! Go Temple! She can spot a fake quickly! She gets animals for sure.)
2. The dogs owner is hyper aggressive about public access. They walk in the door demanding access. It’s as if they know they are fakes and have to preempt someone exposing them. Come on. A real service dogs handler is calm. Cool and collected. They know the rules and can demonstrate that their trained dog belongs whenever they are going. Even when a real service dogs handler is denied access they know to remain calm. They turn it into a teachable moment. (if the human they are trying to educate isn’t smart enough though….then the mom has to call the DOJ about ADA issues. Ugh…that’s never fun)
1. ***My original post here had to do with heeling, and walking on the left. This was based on the fakes that I have seen. But I realized now (after some nice, and some not nice messages), that there are some CCI dogs and dogs that need to walk on the right due to needs of their handlers. Ok, so either side, as long as they behave…..so its obvious they are legit.
I’m so not whatever about this. This topic annoys me for so many reasons. I spent 14 months with puppy raisers who were loving but strict. I was educated at the Harvard of obedience and diabetic alert schools. For two years of my life I trained to be able to handle all that the human world has to throw at me. And I handle it with grace. Every day.
Fake service dogs are educated, if at all, at the equivalent of mail away schools for what seems to be an ineffective few months. Some are just simply pets. I’m not knocking my pet dog brothers and sisters. But they just can’t handle the human world. These humans are a lot to deal with.
Karma. Karma is real people. If you need a service dog, make sure you have a real one. Don’t ruin it for everyone by having a misbehaved “service” dog. It’s just not right……
Off to do some blood glucose alerting…..
35 thoughts on “Fake service dogs, how to spot one. Another top ten list.”
Fake Service Dogs are my BIGGEST pet peeve. Great tips and thank you for doing your awesome work Darwin. You rock!
Thank you for this, Darwin! I’m sharing this, lots more people need to know what a true service dog looks like.
Thank you for sharing. I hope we can bring more awareness…and get those fakers to cease and desist!
So my dog is fake because he walks on the right because my CANE is in my left hand? Thanks for causing more problems for me and all the others who NEED their dog on the right side because of other mobility aids.
Agreed. I have modified the comment about walking on the left, as I see how it could be grey area.
Um, not all service dogs have to walk on the left. For example, if the handler has an issue with their left hand, the dog can be trained on the right. Doesn’t matter which side the dog works on as long as they are behaving properly!
Agreed. I have modified the comment about walking on the left, as I see how it could be grey area.
A good service dog should be able to work on BOTH sides of his handler. What if the handler has an injury? What if there is something dangerous on the left? What if the person needs a cane in the left hand? Perfectly normal to have a dog to heel on both sides, typically it is trained!
I have modified that point, and agree. I thank you for pointing it out in a classy way.
I have modified the comment about walking on the left, as I see how it could be grey area. However, I stand by my thoughts that fake service dogs are a BIG issue.
plenty of service dogs work on the right side of the handler 🙂
And I have modified my post to reflect that. Thank you.
Hello there! Many PTSD service dogs have a task that is called “crowd blocking.” They may automatically do this, which means that the dog is supposed to be in the public’s way. I just wanted to make that clear. People who suffer from PTSD often need a large personal space bubble.
Thank you for replying in a reasonable manner. I understand the point you bring up. However, I’m sure the dog is able to do this while still being under control and not in people’s faces.
You are correct. The dog should not be actively annoying the people around him/her, and is usually in a standing or “down” position. Sorry, I truly do not want to attack you or jump down your throat. I just wanted to bring that task to you and your reader’s attention.
And I appreciate that. I have obviously struck a nerve with many people here, who are being very rude and hateful. I have amended/corrected those points where I feel I was too harsh. However, I still stand by the fact that fake service dogs hurt those who really need them. Like the little girl I keep safe.
I apologize for being so harsh with my previous comment and thank you for changing the one about which side a dog should be on. While I agree that fakers are a problem, lately too many people have been way too judgmental about what they think a SD should or shouldn’t do without regard for what that particular handler needs for their disability. Our disabilities are not one size fits all and neither are our dogs. We shouldn’t accuse someone of being a faker when we don’t understand their disability or how their dog is trained to mitigate that disability.
Yes, but blatant misconduct from a dog is what ruins it for the dogs who have been trained for years to appropriately handle situations. This is the main gripe. I see too many of them out there.
Well when I see a dog with a small child that’s too young to steward the dog on her own, I question the legitimacy of that team. Keep on making assumptions, and remember people are making assumptions about you, too.
Yup. That’s why she isn’t the handler. The mom and the dad are.
So, which parent is going to go to kindergarten and handle the dog in class when she starts school? Or si the dog staying home while she’s in school?
I stay at home while the girl is at school. Or, if the mom or the dad has time, they go and sit in the back of the classroom with me. The girl only has the leash when we are at home. Until she’s 12, this will be the routine. We have 7 years to train the girl on how to make sure I’m safe. And she’s safe. As a team.
Because my service dog does mot have a harness like guild dogs do, I constantly get the question, “Where can one go to buy a dog vest like that?” My first response wants to me snippy; but I try to hold my tongue and suggest the person look into a certified dog. Then I’m often told, “…But, I just want to be able to take my (pet) dog into the stores and on the plane with me…” Sometimes it’s a no-win situation.
Then, there are the times when I have let someone pet my dog, only to get the response, “Oh. So she’s one of those ‘fake’ service dogs, because no one is allowed to pet a ‘real’ service dog!” Sigh….
Agreed. Since the girl doesn’t “look” like she needs me people think we are faking.
I was in a supermarket one day and this woman in front of me had this ugly, badly-behaved little Jack Russell terrier that was all decked out in an orange service vest. The little demon was running around, dragging the leash and I didn’t see it until my shopping car rolled over either his foot or tail and he yelped like a banshee! The owner became upset and I let her have it! I told her that her %($$@&^ dog was a fake, there wasn’t anything wrong with her and if the fleabag got under my feet again I was going to kick the little POS across the store. She claimed she needed the dog because she had a hearing problem, but I wasn’t shouting and she heard every word I said — she also heard the dog yelp. Of course the dog wasn’t a service dog because if it had been, it would have been standing or sitting beside her, not running around the store. Store/restaurant managers, etc. need to start asking anyone who enters their establishment with a dog what sort of service the animal has been trained to perform and at the first sign the dog is a fake, call the police. When I got outside the store, I saw the woman with the fake service dog again and it was barking at a bunch of seagulls in the parking lot and trying to pull away from her, so I went back inside and talked to the manager about it and he said if she came back into the store with the dog and he was there, he would question her about it. Of course, he probably won’t because unless someone complains while the dog is in the store, managers don’t want to confront customers.
Ooh! What an awesome post. I have t1d and have been contemplating a dog for a bit. Nice to read up on some of the things real service dogs are capable and trained to do : )
Darwin, has your human been to the Joslin Clinic to attend the do it program? We are a T1D family and it’s something we do every four years to keep ourselves in check. I Highly recommend this for your family.
We have not been there, but will look into it. Thank you for sharing.
Fake dogs can be a pain and they are easy to spot but stores are afraid to approach them these days so they are free to do whatever.. I use a web Master harness with 4 patches, 2 say diabetic alert, 2 say Hypoglycemic alert. The harness has a handle I can use for balance, the dog is a 2 YO 55 pound SPOO. I have never been turned away, only asked occasionally if she is a SD. One person asked for a demonstration, which isn’t impossible without a high or low but I explained what she would do if it occurred. 2 taps on my leg. She can alert on command but I see no reason to do it for anyone as a show,
I think someday we’ll need an official card that simply says I conform to the ADA for a Disability and my dog is required, issued by a doctor. Most fakes don’t realize they have to be disabled and they have the rights, the dog is just a medical appliance. That would end 95% of the fake dogs.
Sorry Darwin, I think I inadvertently called you a test kit.
Thank you for confirming my thoughts about a “Service Dog” that was in my place of employment Friday night. The Great Dane was skittish and the owner was aggressive and when he took the dog outside he completely lost control of it in the parking lot. Because I work in a bar/restaurant I really feel that all service and dogs should be specially licensed by the state and proof should be required upon walking in just like a 21 year old has to prove they can drink.