Answers to All Your Questions About Service Dogs in Ontario [2023]

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Do you have questions about Ontario's Service Dog Program? Slightly over 2 In Ontario alone, there are 6 million people who are disabled. That's equivalent to nearly 25% of Ontarians. As an aid to their handicap, some people rely on service dogs.

This is significant because it has the potential to offer essential assistance with regular tasks and routines. In addition, it can help those with disabilities gain greater access to and opportunities for participating in society without risk.

In this comprehensive guide, we'll examine service dogs in Ontario from a variety of angles. To whom this manual may be of use:

  • Tenant or Landlord
  • Employer
  • Employee
  • Instituent founder
  • Related person
  • Community Participant
  • A potential recipient of a service dog
  • Someone who is simply curious

This guide will help you learn all about service dogs in Ontario, including what they are, where they are allowed, what questions you can ask the handler, if the dog needs to be certified or registered, and what accommodations are available in public buildings and private homes. If you'd rather skip ahead, I also have a [Directory] of Service Dog Organizations in Ontario, which you can access from this article. Service Dogs Ontario @katelynburelleOpens in a new tab.Everest, Katelyn Burelle's Multipurpose Service Dog

Ontario's Service Dogs
Service dog certification Ontario Portuguese service dog Balu

Laws Regarding Service Dogs in Ontario: An Overview

The following statutes afford protection to people with disabilities in Ontario: service dog laws Ontario @the_working_willowOpens in a new tab."Willow" the service dog, @the_working_willow

In Ontario, what qualifies as a service animal?

Customer Service Standard of the AODA,Opens in a new tab.The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) defines a service animal as one that meets the following criteria:

  1. It has outward signs that help identify it, such as a harness or a vest; or...
  2. Service animal users must present documentation (such as a letter) from a licensed medical professional stating that their service animal's presence is necessary due to a disability.
  • An individual with a disability can benefit from the assistance of a Service Dog.
  • The dog aids in overcoming some of the impairment's practical restrictions.
  • Access for service dogs and their handlers in public spaces
  • Any public place (with a few exceptions) is accessible to people with disabilities, including the theater, the restaurant, the doctor's office, the hotel, and the government building.
Choosing the Right Breed of Service Dog
Service Dog in training Ontario in a new tab.Bishop, the Service Dog in Training

Animals Trained to Help People in Ontario

In accordance with the Customer Service Standard, any kind of animal may be used as a service animal. service dog training Ontario @lucytheservicesibeOpens in a new tab.Lucy the Service Ibe from Kylie's "Lucy on Duty"

Accreditation for Ontario Service Dogs

There is currently no system in place in Ontario for certifying or testing Service Dogs. Canadian Canine Good Citizen testOpens in a new tab.The Canadian Canine Good Citizen test is highly recommended to make sure a dog is well-liked in their community.

Making sure dogs are well-mannered at home, in public, and around other dogs and people is made easier with the help of the Canadian Canine Good Citizen Test.

  • Canadian Canine Good Citizen Opens in a new tab.Dog Receives Highest Honors in Canada
service dog laws in Ontario Canada @luna_exploregonOpens in a new tab.Thanks to @luna_exploregon for the photo!

Registration for Ontario Service Dogs

Service dogs in Ontario do not require registration, just like in the US. This is required by the AODA and the Human Rights Code of Ontario. Neither a license nor proof of registration is required for a service animal. However, owners of service animals may be asked to show proof of their status. The letter/prescription from the doctor explaining the disability and the need for the animal is all that is required.

The required paperwork must either:

  • Evidence from a certified medical expert
  • A guide dog user's identification card issued by the Ministry of the Attorney General in Ontario.

Like the rest of the world, there is no such thing as a legitimate "registration" for service animals. You should be wary of websites that prey on users' lack of computer literacy for financial gain. For more information on why it is not necessary for genuine service dog teams to be registered, see my article Which Service Dog Registry is Legitimate.

How to Register an Assistance Animal in Ontario - Service Dogs Ontario

No, you

how to get a service dog in ontario @lucytheservicesibeOpens in a new tab.Where I Go, You Go by Kylie Minogue (@lucytheservicesibe)

Definition of a Licensed Health Care Provider

(4) An animal is considered a service animal for the purposes of this Part if,

(a) visual indicators, such as a vest or harness, make it clear that the animal is being used by the person for reasons related to the person's disability; or

(b) the individual provides verification from one of the following licensed medical professionals that they need the animal due to their disability:

Ontario Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Opens in a new tab.The Act to Improve Access for Persons with Disabilities in Ontario

Members of the following academies are considered regulated health professionals:

To rephrase...

  • Professionals in the fields of audiology and speech pathology
  • Chiropractor
  • Nurse
  • Expert in Occupational Therapy
  • Optometrist
  • Physician
  • Surgeon
  • Physiotherapist
  • Psychologist
  • Psychotherapist
  • Counselor or psychotherapist
The Pros and Cons of Having a Service Dog

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Positive and Negative Aspects of Having a Service Dog
Multipurpose Service Dog Ontario Canada German Shepherd @eri_servicedogOpens in a new tab."Eri," a versatile service dog (@eri_servicedog), has many uses.

Medical documentation of your service animal's necessity may be required.

A simple letter from your doctor may be all that's required if you decide that getting a service animal is the right choice for you. Your medical recommendation letter could also come from another doctor besides the ones we listed above.

The sole purpose of this letter is to express your need for a service animal. Your entire life story is not necessary, nor are any other specifics. Service Dogs Amusement Parks Ontario @dog.human.duoOpens in a new tab."Kodiak," the service dog, @dog.human.duo

Who Can Get an Ontario Service Dog?

In Ontario, a service dog is available to anyone who needs one due to a disability.

These canines are trained to:

  • Assisting with routine and other responsibilities
  • Enhance people's quality of life and ensure their security
  • Make available a variety of options
service dog for depression and anxiety Ontario Balu, a Portuguese service dog

Ontario Disability Types Served by Service Dogs

Some examples of impairments are:

  • Whether or not it is visible
  • Always be there
  • Evolutionary process
  • Accidentally triggered
Service Dogs can help people with a number of different disabilities Ontario People with a wide range of disabilities, both visible and invisible, can benefit from the assistance of service dogs. ontario Canada service dog laws @working.collie.remmiOpens in a new tab.Twitter: "Remmi" the Working Collie

Several Disabilities Exposed

  • Lack of sight or total blindness
  • Problems with hearing or total deafness
  • Problems Communicating
  • Mobility impairments (including but not limited to paralysis, amputation, poor balance, and/or poor coordination)
  • Damage to the brain
  • Mental disorders like PTSD
  • To have a seizure disorder such as epilepsy
  • Disabilities of the Mind
  • Impairments in learning
  • Disabilities in development
  • Disorders of the mind
Service animals Ontario @snow_leopard_81Opens in a new tab.Snow Leopard, a blue heeler, can be followed on Twitter at @snow_leopard_81.

Service Dog Duties, as an Illustration

Dogs trained as service animals can assist people in a wide range of ways. Some of the amazing things these creatures can do to aid humankind include:

Jobs for Ontario's Service Dogs:

  • Rousing a sleeper (a person suffering from PTSD, for instance)
  • Warning of high or low blood pressure (as in Diabetes) or low blood sugar levels
  • Wheelchair pulling
  • Adjusting drawers and cupboards
  • Toting a load of groceries
  • Using a bank or credit card to make a purchase
  • Pre-entry security checks are common among people with PTSD.
  • Washing clothes
  • Instructing patients to take their pills at regular intervals
  • Assistance with medication and hydration in the event of a medical emergency (such as a panic attack).
  • Hearing-impaired people can have their handlers alerted to the sound of the doorbell, the fire alarm, the phone ringing, or even their own name.
  • Walking beside a person as they make their way across a busy street (for those who are blind or have low vision).
  • To move from the "fight or flight" response to a more "relaxed" one, DPT (Deep Pressure Therapy) uses the gentle but firm pressure delivered by a service dog.
  • Interrupting the caretaker's harmful or repetitive routines (Autism, PTSD).
  • Keeping someone safe who is having a seizure, or helping them afterward,
  • The Giant List of Service Dog Tasks (K9 Total Focus) Opens in a new tab.K9 Total Focus' Enormous Checklist of Duties for Service Dogs
Ontario service dog registration in a new tab.Training Service Dog Bishop

How to Obtain an Ontario Service Dog

Where can you obtain a service dog if you decide that such a dog would be helpful to you? Multiple choices and paths are available.

  • You could get a dog from a shelter or a pet store and train it yourself (it takes about two years to fully train a service dog).
  • One alternative is to get a dog from a shelter and train him or her yourself with the help of a professional.
  • Alternatively, one could look into acquiring a service dog from a reputable organization. It's possible that you or someone you know could benefit from a non-profit or charity that has a long waiting list and/or application process. You can find a growing list of Ontario service dog organizations in my article.
German Shepherd service dog Ontario @lucytheservicesibeOpens in a new tab.Service Dog in Training (SDiT) @lucytheservicesibe is Kylie's "Where I Go, You Go" motto.

Training for Service Dogs in Ontario

  • Please be aware that ADI will only accept applications for accreditation or membership from formally recognized nonprofit or charitable programs.
  • You can get a service dog that is both ethical and high-quality from a wide variety of other sources.  

Trained service dogs are also available from a wide variety of non-government organizations and commercial enterprises. And if you'd rather train your own, they might even Psychiatric service dogs Ontario in a new tab.Dog with a Mind for Psychiatric Work: "Sarge"

There is a lack of oversight in the dog training industry.

Be wary, though, because dog training is currently a highly unregulated industry. In Ontario, this is also the case for service dogs.

Consequently, preparation is key. Check their background and credentials before hiring them. Numerous groups provide opportunities for professionals to join as members. This ensures that strict norms and ethical practices are adhered to.

Membership Options for Working Dog Agencies in Ontario

Service dog in training German Shepherd Ontario. Canada @lucytheservicesibeOpens in a new tab.Service Dog in Training (SDiT) @lucytheservicesibe is Kylie's "Where I Go, You Go" mantra.

Association of Qualified Dog Trainers in Canada

Canadian Association of Professional Dog TrainersOpens in a new tab.If you live in Canada and need information or assistance training a service dog, the Canadian Association of Professional Dog Trainers is a fantastic place to start.

You can: Medical alert service dog Poodle @cricket_n_saraphenaOpens in a new tab.Dogs that Detect Medical Emergencies: @cricket_n_saraphena

Accessing an Ontario Service Dog for Emotional Support

If you live in Ontario and are in need of a service dog due to depression or anxiety, you have several options to choose from. Feel free to read my piece I wrote on training a service dog to help with anxiety and psychological challenges.

  1. Do it yourself dog training
  2. Use expert guidance when dog-training.
  3. Find a group that trains service dogs (you might have to raise money or pay for one in some other way).
  4. Any permutation of the above
how to register a service dog in Ontario @lucytheservicesibeOpens in a new tab.Where I Go, You Go at Kylie's and Lucy's on Duty at Kylie's are both tweets by @lucytheservicesibe.

A psychiatric service dog is one specially trained to assist their human companions in times of emotional or mental distress. If you're interested in learning more, you can read my articles Psychiatric Service Dog Tasks - 17 Examples or Psychiatric Service Dog Training. Here are a few examples of such responsibilities:

  • Awakening someone from a bad dream or at a predetermined time
  • Touching and feeling
  • Promoting Communication and Community
  • Eliminating anxiety when exposed to large groups of people
  • Acting as a barrier to help someone feel more comfortable in a large group of people
  • Facilitating a person's ability to relax following an outburst
  • Helping someone who is anxious or fearful feel more secure
  • Restoring someone to the here-and-now
  • Facilitating the development of a secure inner world
  • Delivering water and medicine to those who cannot
  • Helping Out
  • Facilitating Stability
  • Nagging someone until they take their medication is called "nagging"
  • Overwhelming feelings are interrupted
service dog registration Ontario @eri_servicedogOpens in a new tab."Eri," a versatile service dog, can do it all.

Ontario Dogs for the Mentally Ill

It should go without saying that getting or training a service dog is no picnic. It will probably not be a quick process whether you train the dog yourself, hire a trainer to assist you, or acquire a dog from an organization. The same holds true if you require a service dog for mental health reasons. Let's talk about the process of acquiring an Ontario psychiatric service dog. My article on Deep Pressure Therapy (DPT) service dogs for the mentally ill is also worth reading.

Where can I go in Ontario to get a service dog for mental illness?

A psychiatric service dog can be acquired in a few different ways: through self-training, assisted-self-training, or acquisition from a for-profit or non-profit organization. The first step is to schedule an appointment with your doctor to obtain a letter of recommendation. Or, see one of the other doctors I recommended.

This is something that any service dog organization you apply to will want to see in your application materials. This letter is also required if you plan on taking your service dog on a plane with you. Ontario service dog in a new tab.Therapy Dog "Sarge" ( for Mental Health

In Ontario, there are a few options for acquiring a service dog for mental health purposes:

  • Whether you choose to train your dog on your own or seek professional or group assistance,
  • It may be expensive to acquire a service dog for mental health purposes through a third-party organization.
  • Getting the dog for mental health purposes from a charity or non-profit. There may be a lengthy wait time (typically over two years) before a person can receive one of these free, fully trained service dogs from one of these organizations.
  • Whether a for-profit or non-profit organization is doing the training, the price tag for a single service dog is at least $20,000. Funding for nonprofits comes primarily from contributions and sponsorships.

Service Dog Legislation in Ontario: Available Online

In Ontario, service animals are legally permitted in all public areas of businesses. Customers with disabilities should be allowed to bring their service animals with them at all times.

Only in restricted areas (such as a hospital operating room) are service animals not permitted.

Taxis, supermarkets, and shopping centers are all examples of public places where service animals should be allowed to accompany their handlers if there is no law prohibiting the presence of such animals at such establishments.

However, if a business is located in an area where service animals are prohibited by law, that establishment must make alternative arrangements to ensure that customers with service animals have equal access to their products and services. Goldendoodle Autism Service Dog @bri.and.piperOpens in a new tab."Piper," a goldendoodle, is a service dog for people with autism.

Can You Demand ID for an Ontario Service Dog?

Service providers in Ontario may request proof that a dog is trained to assist a disabled customer. A letter or prescription from one of the aforementioned medical professionals is acceptable. The existence of fake service animals creates obstacles for genuine service dog teams who are just trying to live normally.

service dog with friends Ontario @the_working_willowOpens in a new tab."Willow" the Service Dog and Her Pals at @the_working_willow

Ontario's Access Rights for Service Animals: Some Restrictions and Exceptions

OADAOpens in a new tab.All Ontario establishments and service providers must allow service animals in accordance with OADA (Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act). There are only a few niche cases in the food industry, such as certain clauses in food manufacturers'

An individual who requires the assistance of a service animal may want or need to visit a public place that does not welcome service animals or service dogs under Ontario law. Medical alert service dog Ontario Goldendoodle @thatlilbearkodaOpens in a new tab."Koda," a Goldendoodle, is a service dog that can alert you to medical emergencies.

Still, in such cases, service providers must provide suitable alternatives. This is done to guarantee that the customer is still able to receive the service normally provided at that address.

There are a few paths open to providers. It's possible that they'll provide service in an area accessible to the animal.

Providers may also accommodate customers whose pets are not welcome at their establishments. In such a case, the service animal might have to find a new place to wait.

The laws governing service animals must be respected by all businesses. The alternative is that they are obstructing justice. Threat of Legal Action

By accommodating customers with service animals, businesses and service providers demonstrate their dedication to serving everyone. service animals are not pets Ontario Pets are not allowed to be around working dogs.

What Exactly Is a Therapy Dog

In social settings like those found in classrooms, nursing homes, and hospitals, therapy dogs are typically owned by people who enjoy interacting with many people.

These dogs may or may not have received training, but regardless, they are not tailored to assist anyone with a particular disability. In this respect, service dogs and therapy dogs differ significantly. What is a Therapy Dog? Ontario, Canada A therapy dog is typically an individual's pet that travels to various locations to spread happiness and ease stress. Therapy Dog in Canada @eddieandboomerOpens in a new tab.Eddie and Boomer, a pair of therapy dogs (@eddieandboomer).

Many people benefit from the presence of therapy dogs, and their owners take them everywhere they go.

Positive effects of having a friendly, calm animal to pet, hold, or be around have been observed for people confined to medical facilities, schools, and other institutional settings. therapy dog Ontario @eddieandboomerOpens in a new tab.Eddie, the Therapy Dog @eddieandboomer

Although therapy dogs are valuable, they are not afforded the same public access privileges as service dogs.

  • Training a Therapy Dog, The Ultimate GuideOpens in a new tab.Complete Instructions for Creating a Therapy Dog
Poodle service dog @cricket_n_saraphenaOpens in a new tab.Dog Trained to Respond to Medical Emergencies @cricket_n_saraphena

Definition of a Companion Animal

A companion dog is an important pet that can improve people's lives simply by being in the same room with them. As a pet, it must also adhere to all applicable regulations and ordinances.

Pets that have not been specifically trained to assist a disabled person are not considered service animals.   Border Collie Service Dog @celestialbordercolliesOpens in a new tab.Celestial Border Collies / Instagram

Obedience Training Dogs in Ontario

Mini Service Horse Service Animal in a new tab.Miniature service horse "Flirty" [USA]

Emotional support animals are not recognized in Ontario.

Ontario does not have any form of ESA recognition. There are no ESA-related laws in Ontario, and ESAs cannot gain preferential housing access.

In the U S Emotional support animals are allowed in private homes but not in public spaces.

Tenants in Ontario are protected from discrimination by landlords who forbid pets because of their emotional support function. Residential Tenancies ActOpens in a new tab.The relevant section of the Residential Tenancies Act is Section 14. PTSD Service Dog Ontario Canada There is no standard size or breed for a service dog. @vos_ptsd_servicedogOpens in a new tab.Thanks to @vos_ptsd_servicedog for the photo!

Animal Care Costs for Emotional Support Animals

Furthermore, landlords are prohibited from imposing pet fees. The presence of a pet is not grounds for eviction. The types of pets you can have are restricted.

Therefore, tenants who rely on emotional support animals shouldn't have any trouble finding a place to live that allows pets. service dog in training Ontario in a new tab.Bishop, the Future Service Dog What is an emotional support animal? In Ontario, service animals for the emotionally disabled are not recognized. Unlike most service animals, they have not been "task-trained." They might not even have any training.

Questions About Ontario's Service Dog Program

Does Ontario law permit requesting documentation of a service dog?

Ontario businesses and other public service providers can request medical documentation from customers who bring their service dogs into the establishment. Refer to the list of approved experts up top for details.

How much does it cost to train a service dog?

Training a dog, especially one to perform a service, is not a simple or inexpensive task. Training a service dog from scratch can take months or even years and cost tens of thousands of dollars (up to fifty thousand is possible).

Learn more about the benefits and drawbacks of getting a service dog by reading my article, or get started in the right direction by reading about how to choose the best service dog breed for your lifestyle and needs.

A service dog can be obtained from a group that matches people in need with dogs for free or a nominal fee. If you're looking for a list of organizations that train service dogs in Ontario, or anywhere else in Canada, check out my resources here: a href="MY_REDIRECT_PREFIX" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener">Service Dog Organizations in Ontario. They require nourishment, veterinary attention, various supplies, possibly insurance, and a few other things.

Psychological Service Dog Education

How do they teach dogs to help with emotions? The short answer is no; In Ontario, service dogs for the emotionally disabled are not recognized. In Ontario, landlords are required to accept all pets, including those used for emotional support.

While service animals are trained to perform specific tasks, ESAs are not. This means that although ESAs may be trained in basic dog obedience, they are not required to perform any additional tasks or services for their disabled handlers.

Can I Register My Dog in Ontario to Be a Service Dog?

The question of how to obtain one's own service dog is a common one. A few things are worth keeping in mind.

To be an effective service dog, a dog must meet certain criteria. It's ideal to begin training when the dog is still a puppy so that you can enjoy him or her for as long as possible afterward. Keep in mind that dogs don't work indefinitely and don't live nearly as long as humans.

In addition, not all canines are suited to working. Your current dog may not be the best "prospect" for a future career as a service animal. Start with a puppy and a dog trainer or look for a group that can assist you. Obtaining a reliable service dog can be accomplished in a variety of ways.

Does Ontario Issue Licenses for Service Dogs?

There may be official service dog licenses in some states, provinces, or municipalities, but Ontario is not one of them. Unless your municipality has a law requiring all dogs to be licensed, you do not need to register or certify your service dog in Ontario.

Those who rely on service dogs while out in public must ensure that their dogs are properly attired in service dog vests, and that they have a letter or prescription from a doctor authorizing the use of the dog in public.

Do Ontario Restaurants Allow Service Dogs?

With a few exceptions (operating rooms and other sterile environments, for example), service dogs are welcome to accompany their handlers virtually everywhere the general public is allowed to go. Disabled people must be treated equally in the workplace.

In Ontario, Which Individuals May Receive a Service Dog?

In Ontario, a person with a disability who lives with them may apply for a service dog.

Open Doors for Ontarians

Accessibility Ontario.Opens in a new tab.Accessibility Ontario is a great resource for learning more. in a new tab.For more, please check out
Write to us at [email protected].
Dial (1-)416-849-8276
Please call us at 1-866-515-2025 or 1-800-268-7095. in a new tab.On Twitter: @ONAccessibility in a new tab.Like us on Facebook: ONAccessibility
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