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

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Is the topic of Ontario Service Dogs intriguing you? There are roughly 2 There are approximately 6 million people in Ontario who are disabled. Roughly 25% of Ontarians are in this category. An assistance dog is used by some people with disabilities.

This is significant because it has the potential to offer essential assistance with regular tasks and routines. Furthermore, 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
  • Close relative
  • Citizen or resident
  • An Individual Considering Obtaining a Service Dog
  • A curious observer who wants to know more

Everything you need to know about service dogs in Ontario, including definitions, roles, locations, questions to ask the handler, certification and registration requirements, rules for public buildings and private residences, and more, is laid out here for your convenience. Let's get started, or you can check out the Service Dog Organizations in Ontario [Directory] I wrote. Service Dogs Ontario @katelynburelleOpens in a new tab.Everest, Katelyn Burelle's Multipurpose Service Dog

Pet Therapy Dogs in Ontario
Service dog certification Ontario Portuguese service dog Balu

Introduction to Ontario's Service Dog Legislation

The following pieces of legislation in Ontario safeguard the rights of people with disabilities: 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. 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 get assistance from 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 SDiT is on Twitter at

Animals Used as Service Dogs in Ontario

No specific breed or type of service animal is required in order to comply with the Customer Service Standard. service dog training Ontario @lucytheservicesibeOpens in a new tab.Lucy the Service Ibe from Kylie's "Lucy on Duty"

Certification for Service Dogs in Ontario

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.

The Canadian Canine Good Citizen Test is a useful tool for ensuring that dogs have been socialized and trained to behave well at home, in public, and around other dogs and people.

  • Canadian Canine Good Citizen Opens in a new tab.An Approved Canine Citizen in Canada
service dog laws in Ontario Canada @luna_exploregonOpens in a new tab.Featured image by @luna_exploregon.

Registration for Ontario Service Dogs

In the same vein as the USA, service dogs in Ontario 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 required to show proof of eligibility. A simple letter or prescription from a doctor stating that the animal is required due to a medical condition.

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 those who aren't as tech-savvy as you are. For more on why it is not necessary for genuine service dog teams to be registered, see my article Which Service Dog Registry is Legitimate.

Guide to Registering an Assistance Dog in 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) the animal's vest or harness clearly designates it as one being used by a person for reasons related to the person's disability; or

(b) the individual presents documentation from one of the following licensed medical professionals attesting to the necessity of the animal due to the disability:

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

Members of the following academies are considered regulated health professionals:

So, to sum up...

  • Someone trained in audiology or speech pathology
  • Chiropractor
  • Nurse
  • Expert in Occupational Therapy
  • Optometrist
  • Physician
  • Surgeon
  • Physiotherapist
  • Psychologist
  • Psychotherapist
  • Counselor or psychotherapist
Benefits and Drawbacks of Having a Service Dog

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Arguments for and against using a service dog
Multipurpose Service Dog Ontario Canada German Shepherd @eri_servicedogOpens in a new tab."Eri," a versatile service dog, can do just about anything.

Bringing Your Service Animal Somewhere May Require a Doctor's Note

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.

This letter will merely explain why a service dog is necessary for you. 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

Ontario Service Dogs: Eligibility Requirements

In Ontario, a service dog can be obtained by anyone who has a qualifying disability.

Trained service dogs are able 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's List of Disabilities That Require a Service Dog

The term "disability" can refer to:

  • In plain sight or not
  • Always be there
  • 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.@working.collie.remmi, the working dog kitty

Several Disabilities Exposed

  • Lack of sight or total blindness
  • Problems with hearing or total 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
  • To have a seizure disorder such as epilepsy
  • Disabilities of the Mind
  • Disorders of learning
  • Disorders of development
  • Disabilities in 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.
  • Wheelchair pulling
  • Using drawers and cabinet doors
  • Toting a load of groceries
  • Making a purchase using a credit or debit card
  • Pre-entry security checks are common among people with PTSD.
  • Doing the wash
  • Instructing patients to take their pills at regular intervals
  • The act of 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).
  • Walking beside a person as they make their way across a busy street (for those who are blind or have low vision).
  • 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).
  • Helping someone who is having a seizure or protecting them during one
  • The Giant List of Service Dog Tasks (K9 Total Focus) Opens in a new tab.K9 Total Focus: An Enormous Checklist for Working 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 you need one? 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).
  • You can also adopt a dog and train him yourself with the help of a professional dog trainer.
  • One more choice that may be available is to acquire a service dog from a reputable training facility. Non-profits and charities often have lengthy application processes and/or waiting lists, but they may be a viable option for you or a loved one in need. To see the expanding list of Ontario service dog organizations, please read 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.
  • If you or someone you know needs a service dog but is concerned about where to get one, there are plenty of other options.  

Many non-government groups and businesses also provide service dogs that have undergone extensive training. They could also assist you in training your own Psychiatric service dogs Ontario in a new tab.Therapy Dog "Sarge" ( for Mental Health

Oversight is lacking in the dog training business.

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. 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.

Membership Options for Working Dog Agencies in Ontario

Service dog in training German Shepherd Ontario. Canada @lucytheservicesibeOpens in a new tab.Where I go, you go service dog in training @lucytheservicesibe is named after Kylie Minogue's song.

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

In Ontario, there are a few different routes you can take to acquire a service dog for mental health issues like depression and anxiety. Feel free to read my piece I wrote on training a service dog to help with anxiety and other psychological challenges.

  1. Instruct the dog or puppy on your own.
  2. Use expert guidance when dog-training.
  3. Find a group that trains service dogs and see if they can help you out (you might have to raise money or pay for something else).
  4. Any permutation of the above possibilities
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, 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
  • Helping people communicate with one another
  • Getting over social anxiety and feeling more comfortable in large groups of people
  • Providing a safety net to help someone feel more comfortable in a large group of people
  • Assisting someone in settling down after experiencing anxiety
  • 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
  • Helping with equilibrium
  • Continually prompting a patient to take their medication.
  • Destabilizing a mountain of feelings
service dog registration Ontario @eri_servicedogOpens in a new tab.Eri, the Multitasking Service Dog @eri_servicedog

Mental Health Assistance Dogs in Ontario

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 the process of acquiring an Ontario psychiatric service dog. Read my piece I wrote on Deep Pressure Therapy (DPT) service dogs for the mentally ill as well.

How do I get 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. Your first step should be to call your doctor and request a letter of recommendation. Or, see one of the other doctors I recommended.

Any service dog organization worth its salt will require this as part of your application. 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, a psychiatric service dog can be obtained through a few different channels:

  • 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.
  • Buying the dog from a charity or other non-profit institution Those in need can get a service dog from a nonprofit organization for free, but there may be a lengthy wait (often 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.

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 it is expected that service animals and their handlers will be welcome because there is no law prohibiting the presence of such animals.

If a company operates in a region where service animals are prohibited by law, it must make alternative arrangements to ensure that customers with service animals can still access 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. Fake service animals are unfortunately a thing, and they make life difficult 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). A few food-related exceptions exist, including some clauses in food manufacturers

On occasion, a disabled individual who relies on a service animal may wish to or be required to visit a public place in Ontario where such animals are not permitted by 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 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 be able to accommodate customers whose pets are not welcome at their establishment. In such cases, the service animal may be required to wait elsewhere.

The laws governing service animals must be respected by all businesses. To do otherwise would be to obstruct legal process. There may be repercussions

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 Pets are not allowed to be around working dogs.

The Definition of a Therapy Dog

A therapy dog is typically a pet that has met and interacted with many people in a variety of settings, including classrooms, nursing homes, and hospitals.

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 Dogs who volunteer as therapy animals are typically beloved family pets who enjoy making the rounds to spread cheer and ease the stresses of everyday life. Therapy Dog in Canada @eddieandboomerOpens in a new tab.@eddieandboomer, Eddie the therapy dog, and Boomer.

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

The presence of a friendly, calm animal can have a calming effect on people who are confined in stressful environments like hospitals, schools, and other institutions. 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.How to Raise and Train a Dog to Be a Therapy Animal
Poodle service dog @cricket_n_saraphenaOpens in a new tab.Dog Trained for Emergency Medical Response: @cricket_n_saraphena

Definition of a Companion Dog

Dogs are popular pets because their mere presence can improve the lives of their owners. Furthermore, it is subject to the same regulations and ordinances as any other pet.

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.Celestial Border Collies / Instagram

Support Animals in Ontario

Mini Service Horse Service Animal in a new tab.The Miniature Service Horse Known as "Flirty" in the United States of America

Emotional support animals are not recognized in Ontario.

The Ontario government does not support emotional support animals. There are no ESA-related laws in Ontario, and ESAs cannot gain preferential housing access.

In the U S Access to housing is guaranteed for service animals, but not to the general public.

Landlords in Ontario cannot prohibit tenants from owning pets if the animal is used as an emotional support animal. Residential Tenancies ActOpens in a new tab.The Residential Tenancies Act specifies this in Section 14. 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

Furthermore, no pet fees may be imposed by landlords. The presence of a pet is not 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. In contrast to most service animals, these pets are not "task-trained." Possible lack of training

Questions About Ontario's Service Dog Program

Businesses and other public service providers in Ontario may request proof from a medical professional that a dog in their establishment is in fact a service dog. Professions that are acceptable can be found in the table above.

Costs associated with training a service dog

No one said that training a dog – especially a service dog – would be cheap or easy Training a service dog can take a long time and a lot of money (up to $50,000 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. Browse my lists of Canadian and Ontario-specific service dog groups here: a href="MY_REDIRECT_PREFIX" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener">Service Dog Organizations in Ontario. img src="/image/empty.gif" alt="Opens in a new tab." data They require nutrition, medical attention from a veterinarian, various supplies, possibly even insurance, and more.

The Art of Raising an Emotional Companion Animal

How do dogs learn to help people who are experiencing emotional distress? 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.

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

It's a common question how one can acquire a service dog. There are some details to keep in mind.

It takes a special breed of dog to make a good service dog. You'll have more time with your dog after training is complete if you begin when it's young. 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. It's possible that the dog you have now isn't the best "prospect" for a service dog. 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.

What about Service Dog Registration in Ontario?

While some U.S. states and Canadian provinces issue official service dog licenses, Ontario does not. Unless local ordinances mandate it for all dogs, service dogs in Ontario do not need to be registered, certified, or licensed.

For service dogs to be allowed into public establishments, their owners must either wear a vest identifying their dog as a service animal or present a letter or prescription from a doctor.

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 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.Check out if you need help with accessibility.
Get in touch with us at [email protected].
Call us at: 1 (416) 849-8276
Dial 1-866-515-2025 or 1-800-268-7095 (TTY) toll-free. in a new tab.Follow us on Twitter @ONAccessibility. in a new tab.Join us on Facebook at
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