10 signs that a “Service Dog” is actually a fake
I Love Dogs
August 11, 2017
You’re out shopping when you turn the corner to find a cute dog
browsing the merchandise. Your first instinct tells you it’s someone’s
service dog, but then something doesn’t seem right. People posing their
pets as fake service dogs has become a widespread problem. Real service
dogs can be any breed, their owners don’t always have visible
disabilities, and they’re not required to carry any kind of identifying
paperwork or distinguishing badge. This makes spotting the fakes
exceptionally difficult, but if the dog is showing any of these
behaviors, it’s most likely an impostor.
#1 – They’re being carried or pushed in a cart
Service dogs are trained in countless different kinds of jobs, but no
matter what their specialty is, they always need to be alert and ready
to work. If the dog is being toted around in a purse or getting a free
ride in a shopping cart, they’re unable to perform their duty. Both
large and small dog breeds can be trained as service animals, but short
little legs are no excuse to not walk on their own.
#2 – They’re not on a leash
It seems ironic, but you’ll never see a highly trained service dog out
in public and not on a leash. They’re more than capable of staying by
their owner, but leashes are used to protect the dog. Always using a
leash is a basic part of being a responsible dog owner.
#3 – They’re pulling on the leash
Because they’re always leashed while they’re working, service dogs have
impeccable leash manners. They never pull and always stick close to
their owner’s side. Dogs used for mobility and support assistance may
lean into their harnesses as part of their job, but they don’t yank
their person in different directions as they feel like it.
#4 – They’re barking or whining
Some dogs are trained to bark or whine as an alert to warn their owner
of an impending medical emergency, like a stroke or panic attack. But
besides these infrequent sounds, a service dog would never bark at
another dog or whine out of impatience.
# 5 – They’re sniffing everything
All dogs rely on smell more than any other sense, and taking your pet
on a walk usually involves a whole lot of sniffing. When a dog has a
job to do, those scents are a distraction. Service dogs are trained to
stay focused, and they won’t be careening down aisles sniffing
everything on the lower shelves.
#6 – They have indoor “accidents”
A dog that isn’t fully house trained should never be taken into an
indoor public area. For male dogs especially, indoor accidents are not
always accidental, and instead, it’s the dog’s way of marking a new
territory. Whether they did it on purpose or not, urinating or
defecating indoors is an unacceptable behavior for service dogs.
#7 – They steal food
Stealing food—whether it’s off a table, out of someone’s hand, or
something they found on the ground—is a hard habit for pets to break,
but resisting temptations is one of the first lessons a service dog
#8 – They look nervous
Socialization is a major part of service dog training, and if the dog
in question is the real deal, they’ll seem calm and confident no matter
what’s going on around them. They won’t be spooked by loud noises or
big crowds, and they won’t cower or tuck their tails between their legs.
#9 – They seek attention
Service dogs know they have a job to do, and they only have eyes for
the person on the other end of their leash. They don’t put their noses
into other people’s space seeking head pats or belly rubs.
# 10 – They’re aggressive
Some service dogs are trained in protection, but that doesn’t mean they
lash out at other people or animals without being explicitly told to. A
dog that is growling, lunging, or showing other signs of unprovoked
aggression is not a real service dog.
Fake service dogs put unfair scrutiny on the people who actually need
their animals for medical or emotional purposes, and they’re an insult
to the dogs that go through months of intense training to be good at
their jobs. The service dog reputation is at stake, and it’s because
some pet owners think “no pet” policies shouldn’t apply to them. If you
decide to approach someone about their dog, remember to do so politely
and realize they have no legal obligation to answer a long list of