Good Dog, Bad Manners? We can help.
Good Dog, Bad Manners? We can help.

Service or Therapy Dog Program


The Service Program is designed to prepare a dog to pass The Public Access Certification Test developed by Assistance Dogs International (ADI). Not all dogs are temperamentally suited for Public Access training.  An experienced ACD handler will first evaluate your dog to determine whether or not the dog is suitable for the program. This program meets or exceeds the training standards for public access as established by the International Association of Assistance Dog Partners (IAADP). ACD will provide a weekly training log to document that the training your dog receives meets the standard. There are six elements to the program.


1)  Schooling:  The standard requires a minimum of one hundred twenty (120) hours of schooling over a period of six months or more. At least thirty (30) hours should be devoted to outings that will prepare the dog to work obediently and in public places.

2)  Obedience Training: The dog must master the basic obedience skills, sit, stay, come, down, and heel. A dropped leash recall in a store in response to verbal commands and/or hand signals is also required.

3)  Manners: The dog must acquire proper social behavior skills to include a minimum:

  1. No aggressive behavior
  2. No soliciting food or petting while on duty
  3. No sniffing people or merchandise
  4. Socialized to tolerate strange sights, sounds, and odors
  5. Ignore food on the floor
  6. Work calmly on leash with no unruly behavior or unnecessary vocalization
  7. No urinating or defecating in public

4)  Disability Related Task: The dog must trained to perform an identifiable task or command.


5)  Prohibited Training: Any training that calls for a display of aggression for guard or defense purposes is prohibited.

6)  Trainers Responsibility At a minimum, the dog’s owner must:

  1. Know pertinent canine laws
  2. Ensure that the dog is healthy, flea free and that the rabies vaccination is up to date
  3. Keep the dog well groomed
  4. Show respect and consideration to other people and property
  5. Use humane training methods
  6. Carry clean-up materials


Public Access Laws


Therapy Dog Program


Therapy dogs do not have federally granted legal access to the types of public areas afforded to service dogs. A therapy dog is there to be petted and provide comfort and affection to individuals at various places that request its visits. A therapy dog and his handler visit facilities such as hospitals, retirement homes, nursing homes, and schools. They might also visit people who have experienced a trauma in a disaster area. Therapy dogs even serve to help relieve stress in passengers at some airports and for college students taking finals at some universities.


Our training exceeds the minimum testing criteria for therapy dog certification tests.  Although there are distinct differences, our training for Therapy Dog still includes manners and etiquette as well as the following:

  • Accepting a friendly stranger
  • Accept petting
  • Appearance and Grooming
  • Overall handling and examination
  • Accepting a treat
  • Loose Leash Walking
  • Reacting appropriately to a neutral dog
  • Walking on a loose leash through a crowd
  • Reactions to distractions such as yelling, loud talking, bumping from behind, and unexpected touching.
  • Leave it (basic and advanced).
  • Stay
  • Recall with distractions
  • Supervised separation/held by stranger
  • Visit command
  • Lap command
  • Socialization to gentle restraint/hugging
  • Up command
  • Petting by clumsy people
  • Petting by a crowd
  • Reaction to wheelchairs, walkers, canes.
  • Bed or Place command


There are many organizations both local and national that provide certification for you and your dog as a Therapy Dog Team.  Clients who wish to pursue the Therapy Dog program should familiaraze themselves with facilities in their local area.  While we do not endorse any particular organization we are providing the following links to two organizations that provide certification.


Therapy Dogs International

Pet Partners


We do not certify service dog/handler teams or therapy dog/handler teams.  Dogs who have been through our service or therapy dog program will be trained to the training level and standards of the guidelines for service dog work or therapy dog work but does not by virture of the training alone, constitute service or therapy dog designation. It is the dog owners sole responsability to seek out, contact, and certify through, an agency or organization that is authorized to conduct service or therapy dog certifications. The staff of ACD does not promote, condone,  or encourage fake service dogs.

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