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

Table of contents

Do you have questions about Ontario's Service Dog Program? There are roughly 2 Ontario is home to 6 million people who are disabled. Almost a quarter of the population of Ontario! An assistance dog is used by some people with disabilities.

Because of its potential to lend critical assistance with regular tasks and life, this is of paramount importance. Additionally, it can allow people with disabilities to take part in society in a more secure and independent manner.

This comprehensive guide explores the role of service dogs in Ontario from several angles. You are in the right place if you are:

  • A homeowner or tenant
  • Employer
  • Employee
  • Owner of a Company
  • Related person
  • Citizen or resident
  • A person thinking about getting a service dog
  • Someone who is simply curious

You will have a thorough understanding of service dogs in Ontario by the time you finish this guide, including what they are, what they do, where they are allowed, questions you can ask the service dog handler, whether or not the dog needs to be certified or registered, and the rules for public businesses and housing. Let's get started, or you can check out my other piece, "Ontario Service Dog Organizations" (Directory). Service Dogs Ontario @katelynburelleOpens in a new tab.Everest, the Multitasking Service Dog of @katelynburelle

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

An Overview of the Service Dog Legislation in Ontario

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. Visible indicators, such as a harness or vest, can be used to...
  2. The service animal user must present documentation (such as a letter) from a licensed medical professional stating that the service animal is necessary due to the user's 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.
  • When accompanied by their handler or owner, service dogs are granted special privileges in public spaces.
  • In most public places, service animals are welcome, including movie theaters, restaurants, doctors' offices, hotels, and government buildings.
Choosing the Right Breed of Service Dog
Service Dog in training Ontario in a new tab."Bishop" the SDiT is on Twitter at

Animals Used as Service Dogs 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"

Ontario Service Dog Registration

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 a well-liked member of the neighborhood.

To ensure that dogs have been trained and socialized to behave well at home, in public, and around other dogs and people, the Canadian Canine Good Citizen Test can be taken.

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

Registration of Service Dogs in Ontario

Ontario is similar to the U.S. in that service dogs are not required to be registered. This is required by the AODA and the Ontario Human Rights Code. Certificates or other forms of identification are not required for service animals. However, owners of service animals may be asked to show proper identification. 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
  • Guide dog owners in Ontario can get an identification card from the Ministry of the Attorney General.

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 those who aren't as tech-savvy as you are. 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

You are not

how to get a service dog in ontario @lucytheservicesibeOpens in a new tab.The "Where I Go, You Go" music video 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 documentation from a qualified healthcare provider stating that the animal is necessary due to the individual's 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...

  • One who specializes in hearing and speech disorders
  • 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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Advantages and Disadvantages of Having a Service Dog
Multipurpose Service Dog Ontario Canada German Shepherd @eri_servicedogOpens in a new tab.Eri, the Multitasking Service Dog @eri_servicedog

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

A simple letter from your doctor may be all that's required to get you started with your new best friend, the service animal. 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. It doesn't have to be super detailed or tell the whole story of your life. 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 can be obtained by anyone who has a qualifying disability.

These canines are trained to:

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

Ontario's List of Disabilities That Require a Service Dog

Impediments can take many forms.

  • Whether or not it is visible
  • Existing from infancy
  • Eventually evolved
  • Accidentally induced
Service Dogs can help people with a number of different disabilities Ontario Invisible and visible impairments alike benefit from the assistance of service dogs. ontario Canada service dog laws @working.collie.remmiOpens in a new tab."Remmi" the Working Collie @working.collie.remmi

Several Disabilities Exposed

  • Lack of sight or total blindness
  • Inability to hear or complete deafness
  • Problems Communicating
  • Impairments to one's physical capabilities (such as weak muscles, a lack of sensation, or impaired balance and/or coordination)
  • Damage to the brain
  • Conditions of the mind like PTSD and others
  • Seizure disorders, such as epilepsy
  • Mental retardation
  • Disorders of learning
  • Disabilities in development
  • Problems with one's mental health
Service animals Ontario @snow_leopard_81Opens in a new tab.Snow Leopard, Blue Heeler, @snow_leopard_81

Service Dog Duties, as an Illustration

Almost any kind of disability can be accommodated by training a service dog to perform a specific task. Some of the amazing things these creatures can do to aid humankind include:

Jobs for Ontario's Service Dogs:

  • Bringing someone out of a nightmare (such as PTSD)
  • Diabetic alerting, high/low blood pressure alerting, etc.
  • A wheelchair being towed
  • Adjusting drawers and cupboards
  • Shopping bags in hand
  • Making a purchase using a credit or debit card
  • Fear of entering a strange room due to a perceived threat (post-traumatic stress disorder).
  • Washing clothes
  • Setting alarms to remind patients to take their medication
  • Bringing a person medication and a bottle of water (during a panic attack, for instance)
  • Helping the handler hear important sounds (the doorbell, the fire alarm, the telephone ringing, the handler's name).
  • Helping a person who is blind or has low vision cross a busy street.
  • Deep Pressure Therapy (DPT) is a method in which a service dog applies pressure to a person in order to ease them out of their heightened state of "fight or flight."
  • Helping the caretaker break harmful routines (autism, PTSD).
  • Keeping someone safe who is having a seizure, or helping them after the fact
  • The Giant List of Service Dog Tasks (K9 Total Focus) Opens in a new tab.K9 Total Focus: A Massive Checklist for Working Dog Owners
Ontario service dog registration in a new tab.Bishop, the Future Service Dog

How to Obtain an Ontario Service Dog

Where can you get a service dog if you decide you need one? Several possibilities and approaches exist.

  • You could get a dog (or a puppy) from a shelter and train it to be a service animal for yourself (this process can take up to two years).
  • Adopting a dog and training him yourself with the guidance of a professional dog trainer is another possibility.
  • One more choice that may be available is to acquire a service dog from a reputable training facility. It's possible that you or someone you know could benefit from a non-profit or charity that has a lengthy waiting list and/or application process. If you're looking for a growing list of service dog organizations in Ontario, check out my article on the subject.
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.

Service Dog Training 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.  

In addition to public agencies, many non-profits and for-profits provide service dog training. They could also assist you in training your own Psychiatric service dogs Ontario in a new tab.Therapy Dog "Sarge" ( for Mental Health

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

The dog training industry is currently highly unregulated, so proceed with caution. In Ontario, this is also the case for service dogs.

Therefore, preparation is key. Make sure you check their background and credentials. Numerous groups provide opportunities for professionals to join as members. This ensures that strict norms and ethical guidelines are followed.

Professional Memberships for Service Dogs in Ontario are available here.

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" motto.

Canine Professional Trainers of 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 may have to raise money or pay other fees) and see if they can help you out.
  4. Any permutation of the above
how to register a service dog in Ontario @lucytheservicesibeOpens in a new tab.@lucytheservicesibe "Kylie's Where I Go, You Go" and "Kylie's Lucy On Duty"

A psychiatric service dog is a service dog specifically trained to assist people with mental health issues. If you're interested in learning more about the tasks that a psychiatric service dog may be asked to perform, check out my article Psychiatric Service Dog Tasks - 17 Examples. These responsibilities can include, for instance:

  • Awakening someone from a bad dream or at a predetermined time
  • Touching and feeling
  • Helping people communicate with one another
  • Getting over social anxiety and feeling more comfortable in large groups of people
  • Acting as a barrier to ease someone into a large group of people
  • Facilitating a person's ability to relax following an outburst
  • Providing stability to someone struggling with anxiety and fear
  • Restoring someone to the here-and-now
  • Facilitating the development of a secure inner world
  • Delivering water and medicine to those who cannot
  • Aiding oneself
  • Facilitating Stability
  • Continually prompting a patient to take their medication.
  • 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 acquiring or training a service dog is no picnic. Getting a service dog is not a quick process, whether you train it yourself, hire a trainer, or adopt one. It's the same when you need a dog to help with your mental health. Let's talk about how to get a service dog for mental health in Ontario. You may also be interested in reading my piece on Deep Pressure Therapy (DPT) service dogs for the mentally ill.

How Do I Obtain an Assistance Dog for Mental Health in Ontario?

A psychiatric service dog can be obtained in a few different ways: through self-training, assisted-self-training, or 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.

Include this in your application to any service dog organization, as they will require it. If you ever need to take your service dog on a plane with you, this letter will be essential. Ontario service dog in a new tab.Therapy Dog "Sarge" ( for Mental Health

In Ontario, a psychiatric service dog can be obtained through a few different channels:

  • By yourself, with the assistance of professional dog trainers, or through some other group
  • 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. Although these groups typically offer free, fully trained service dogs to those in need, waiting lists can be extremely lengthy (in some cases exceeding two years).
  • It costs at least $20,000 to train a single service dog, whether a for-profit business or a charity is doing the work. Funding for nonprofits comes primarily from contributions and sponsorships.

Accessible Ontario Legislation Regarding Service Dogs

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.

Wherever the general public is permitted to go, such as in taxis, supermarkets, and shopping malls, service animals must also be permitted to accompany their handlers under federal law.

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 people who rely on service animals are able to use them. Goldendoodle Autism Service Dog @bri.and.piperOpens in a new tab."Piper," the Goldendoodle Service Dog for Autism, is at @bri.and.piper.

Service Dog ID Required in Ontario?

In Ontario, places that serve the public may request proof that a dog is trained to assist a person with a disability. A letter or prescription from one of the aforementioned medical professionals is acceptable. The existence of fake service animals is unfortunate because it 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

Access privileges for service animals in Ontario: restrictions and exemptions

OADAOpens in a new tab.Businesses and service providers in Ontario are required to allow service animals in accordance with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (OADA). 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.

Providers still have an obligation to provide suitable alternatives in such cases. This is done to guarantee that the customer will still be 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 cases, the service animal may be required to wait elsewhere.

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

Businesses and service providers who make reasonable accommodations for customers with service animals demonstrate their dedication to serving people of all abilities. service animals are not pets Ontario The dogs that serve in the military are not pets.

Define Therapy Dog: What Is It Like to Work with These Animals?

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. The main distinction between a service dog and a therapy dog lies in this aspect. 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

Despite the fact that therapy dogs aren't afforded the same public access privileges as service dogs, they serve a vital purpose.

  • Training a Therapy Dog, The Ultimate GuideOpens in a new tab.The Complete Guide to Educating a Therapy Dog
Poodle service dog @cricket_n_saraphenaOpens in a new tab.Service Dog for Emergency Medical Response @cricket_n_saraphena

Define Companion Dog:

Dogs are popular pets because their mere presence can improve the lives of their owners. And it has to abide by the same ordinances and regulations that apply to other pets.

Because they are not specifically trained to assist a disabled person, companion animals are not considered service dogs.   Border Collie Service Dog @celestialbordercolliesOpens in a new tab.Thanks to @celestialbordercollies for the photo!

Support Animals 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 Housing rights for service animals are different from access rights in public places.

Landlords in Ontario cannot forbid tenants from owning pets if the animals are used as emotional support animals. Residential Tenancies ActOpens in a new tab.Section 14 of the Residential Tenancies Act states the following. PTSD Service Dog Ontario Canada Any dog, of any size or breed, can be a service dog. @vos_ptsd_servicedogOpens in a new tab.This picture was taken by: @vos_ptsd_servicedog

Emotional Support Animal Pet Deposits and Fees

Moreover, no pet fees may be imposed by landlords. Having a pet will not be grounds for eviction. The types of pets you can have are restricted.

There should be no barriers to housing for people who need to keep their emotional support animals with them. service dog in training Ontario in a new tab.Bishop, the Future Service Dog What is an emotional support animal? Ontario does not recognize emotional support animals. 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?

In Ontario, a person who has a service dog may be asked to provide documentation from a medical professional to verify the dog's status as a service dog. Professions that are acceptable can be found in the table above.

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. To train a service dog to its full potential can cost tens of thousands of dollars (up to fifty thousand is possible) and take months, if not years.

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 have basic needs such as sustenance, veterinary care, supplies, possibly insurance, and more.

Psychological Service Dog Education

A Look at Emotional Support Dog Training To put it plainly, no, they are not. 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.

Unlike service animals, ESAs are not typically trained to perform specific tasks. Even though some ESAs are dogs, they are not required to perform any duties for their disabled owners beyond "being there."

How to Register Your Dog as an Ontario 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.

Not every dog is cut out to be a service dog. It's ideal to begin training when the dog is young so that you have as much time as possible left over once it's finished. Keep in mind that dogs don't work indefinitely and don't live nearly as long as humans.

Furthermore, some canines were clearly meant to work and others were not. Your current pet may not be the best "prospect" for a future career as a service dog. Start with a puppy and a dog trainer or look for a group that can assist you. Ways and means abound for acquiring a reliable service dog.

Do Dogs Need a Special License to Work in Ontario?

There may be official service dog licenses in some states, provinces, or municipalities, but Ontario is not one of them. Unless local ordinances mandate it for all dogs, service dogs in Ontario do not need to be registered, certified, or licensed.

Those who rely on service dogs while out in public must ensure that their canine companions wear identification tags or have a letter from a physician prescribing the use of a service animal in order to gain access to any establishment that caters to the general public.

Can Ontario Service Dogs Eat Out with Their Owners?

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 not be subject to workplace bias.

Who Can Get an Ontario Service Dog?

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

Providing Access in Ontario

Accessibility Ontario.Opens in a new tab.Check out Accessibility Ontario if you want to learn more. in a new tab.Learn more about accessibility in Ontario at
Contacting us via email at [email protected]
Call us at: 1 (416) 849-8276
Call Us at 1-866-515-2025 or 1-800-268-7095 (TTY) in a new tab.Follow us on Twitter at @ONAccessibility. in a new tab.Join us on Facebook at
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