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The Truth About Service Dog Equipment

service dog vestWe get this question a lot; "do I need a service dog vest". This is an area of lots of confusion and we've created the following information to try to help bring clarity to the matter. In case you don't want to read any further, let's give you the short answer. No. You don't need a vest, ID or anything else for that matter. Having said that, there's some grey area here, so we'd encourage you to keep reading.

At the federal level, the law is very clear that a service dog that is trained in a task-specific manner is no less of a service animal if they don't have a vest or ID. You can read the federal law about service dogs by clicking here. Again, let's reiterate; if your dog is trained in a task-specific way to assist you with a disability, then that dog's a service animal. This blunt explanation by us begs the question, "why would a company that makes service dog gear say you don't need a vest or ID"? That answer's simple - because it's the truth.

Now that we've covered, very clearly, that you don't need these items we should answer the next common question. "Would you recommend I get a vest for my trained service dog"? Answer... absolutely. Let's go through why we'd recommend you get a vest, knowing that we've already established it is not a mandatory thing for you to do. We're clear, right?  You know by now you don't have to have one, right? All right, good.

A service dog vest will, undoubtedly, pay for itself very quickly simply by the statement it makes. People bother dogs all the time, and people still bother dogs that are working and wearing vests, but the vest does help. One of the best analogies we use are a headache and taking an aspirin. Most headaches will go away on their own at some point, but taking two aspirin can really, really speed up the process. The same is true when you have a legitimate service animal that's outfitted with a vest, IDs or a leash wrap.

Some ways a vest will help are:

  • When flying with a service dog or riding transit systems - Although not required by law, many transportation authorities are now requesting the handler to have the dog outfitted with indentification including a vest, ID or both.
  • Store Access - we are aware that shop owners are skeptical about fake service dogs wearing vests and that is understandable as it's a real problem.  Having said that, it's recommended that your trained service dog still wear one. Police departments would never dream of not having their officers wear a uniform just because somebody posed as an officer and committed a crime.
  • Public Displays of Affection - we know that some folks either cannot read or choose not to. Service dogs wearing vests still get pet all the time, though they shouldn't, but you have a much better chance of your dog being left along if you have a vest and have a big DO NOT PET patch sewn on the side of it. We have a nice article on service dog etiquette you can read and share by clicking here.
These are just a few of the ways a vest will help you and your dog in daily life. The list certainly isn't conclusive. So while they aren't required, a service dog vest or ID can really go a long way in making life easier for the handler and is a pretty minimal investment when you consider that.
Article Posted By Josh Griffith