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

Table of contents

Is the topic of Ontario Service Dogs intriguing you? There are roughly 2 Ontario is home to 6 million people who are disabled. Almost a quarter of the population of Ontario! 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. 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 the target audience for this manual if you are:

  • A homeowner or tenant
  • Employer
  • Employee
  • Owner of a Company
  • Related person
  • Citizen or resident
  • An Individual Considering Obtaining a Service Dog
  • Someone who is simply curious

This guide will help you learn all about service dogs in Ontario, including what they do, where they're allowed, questions you can ask the handler, if the dog needs to be certified or registered, and how to follow the law in public places and private establishments. Let's get started, or you can check out my other article, "Ontario Service Dog Organizations [Directory]." Service Dogs Ontario @katelynburelleOpens in a new tab.Everest, the Multitasking Service Dog @katelynburelle

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

The following statutes provide legal protections for people with disabilities in Ontario: service dog laws Ontario @the_working_willowOpens in a new tab.Twitter handle for service dog "Willow"

Definition of an Ontario 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.
  • One's disability can be made more manageable with 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 a Breed for a Working Dog
Service Dog in training Ontario in a new tab."Bishop" the SDiT is on Twitter at

Animals Used as Service Dogs in Ontario

The Customer Service Standard does not place any limitations on the species or breed of service animal that may be used. 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.An Approved Canine Citizen 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. The AODA and the Ontario Human Rights Code both apply here. Certificates or other forms of identification are not required for service animals. However, owners of service animals may be asked to show proper identification. A simple letter or prescription from a doctor stating that the animal is required due to a medical condition.

The required paperwork must either:

  • Medical records from a licensed practitioner
  • 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 information on why registrations are not required for genuine service dog teams, see my article Which Service Dog Registry is Legitimate.

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

There is no

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

What Exactly Is 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
  • The Occupational Therapist
  • Optometrist
  • Physician
  • Surgeon
  • Physiotherapist
  • Psychologist
  • Psychotherapist
  • Counselor or psychotherapist
The Pros and Cons of Having a Service Dog

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The Pros and Cons 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.

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. 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 is available to anyone who needs one due to a disability.

Working dogs trained to assist the disabled are expected to do the following:

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

Disability Types in Ontario That Require the Use of Service Dogs

Some examples of impairments are:

  • In plain sight or not
  • Existing from infancy
  • Eventually, it 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

Some examples of impairments

  • Having trouble seeing or total blindness
  • Inability to hear or total deafness
  • Problems Communicating
  • Physical or mobility disabilities (such as paralysis, amputation, difficulty with 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, a blue heeler, tweets at @snow_leopard_81.

Service Dog Duties: a Few Examples

Almost any kind of disability can be accommodated by training a service dog to perform a specific task. Here are just a few of the many ways in which these incredible animals can aid humankind:

Jobs for Ontario's Service Dogs:

  • Reviving a sleepwalker (PTSD sufferers)
  • Diabetic alerting, high/low blood pressure alerting, etc.
  • A wheelchair being towed
  • Pulling and pushing on drawers and cupboards
  • Shopping bags in hand
  • Using a bank or credit card to make a purchase
  • For those with PTSD, entering a room requires a thorough search for potential danger.
  • Washing clothes
  • Setting alarms to remind patients to take their medication
  • Assistance with medication and hydration in the event of a medical emergency (such as a panic attack).
  • Notifying handler of specific noises (doorbell, fire alarm, telephone ringing, handler's name) for the deaf or hard of hearing.
  • 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' Enormous Checklist of Duties for Service Dogs
Ontario service dog registration in a new tab.Bishop, the Service Dog-in-Training Twitter Handle

Where To Find A Service Dog In Ontario

Where can you obtain a service dog if you decide you need one? Multiple choices and paths are available.

  • 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).
  • An alternative is to get a dog from a shelter and train him yourself with the guidance of a professional.
  • In addition, you can consider getting a service dog from a reputable organization. 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.
  • 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. Or, they can assist you in training your own Psychiatric service dogs Ontario in a new tab.Therapy Dog "Sarge" ( for Mental Health

Currently, the dog training industry lacks proper oversight.

Be wary, though, because dog training is a relatively unregulated market right now. This holds true in most cases, and in Ontario, it also applies to service animals.

Consequently, preparation is key. Make sure you check their background and credentials. A number of groups welcome professionals 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.Where I go, you go: Service Dog in Training @lucytheservicesibe is Kylie's 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.Cricket and Saraphena, Service Dogs for the Medically Impaired

Ontario's Guide to Obtaining a Service Dog for Depressive and Anxious Individuals

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. Instruct the dog or puppy on your own.
  2. Get some help training the dog from an expert.
  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, you can read my articles Psychiatric Service Dog Tasks - 17 Examples or Psychiatric Service Dog Training. 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
  • Eliminating anxiety when exposed to large groups of people
  • Acting as a barrier to ease someone's transition into a dense human population.
  • 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
  • Aiding in the establishment of a secure inner sanctum
  • Provide water and medicine to those who are unable to do so
  • Helping Out
  • Helping with equilibrium
  • 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 (@eri_servicedog), has many uses.

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 when requiring a dog for psychological support. 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 Obtain an Assistance Dog for Mental Health in Ontario?

You can get a psychiatric service dog in a few different ways: by training your own dog, by having someone else train your dog, or by obtaining one 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.

Any service dog organization worth its salt will require this as part of your application. 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, "Sarge," Psychiatric Service Dog

The path to obtaining an Ontario psychiatric service dog can take several forms:

  • Whether you choose to train your dog on your own or seek professional or group assistance,
  • Spending a lot of money on a private organization's psychiatric service dog program
  • Buying the dog from a charity or other non-profit institution 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 Legislation Regarding Service Dogs in Ontario

In Ontario, service animals are legally permitted in all public areas of businesses. Businesses have an obligation to accommodate customers with disabilities by letting them bring their service animals inside.

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.

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?

In Ontario, places that serve the public may request proof that a customer has a service dog. 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

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.

Still, in such cases, service providers must provide suitable alternatives. This is done to guarantee that the usual level of service is still available to the customer at their usual location.

Multiple choices are available to providers. The customer could be served in an area where the animal has free access.

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. 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 Working dogs are not pets

Definition of 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 might be trained or might not, but they are not custom-trained for any one person or any one disability. In this respect, service dogs and therapy dogs differ significantly. What is a Therapy Dog? Ontario, Canada A therapy dog is typically a family pet that takes great pleasure in making numerous visits to people of all ages and backgrounds in order to bring them comfort and happiness. Therapy Dog in Canada @eddieandboomerOpens in a new tab.Twitter handle for "Eddie" and "Boomer," two therapy dogs

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 to Respond to Medical Emergencies @cricket_n_saraphena

Just What Is a Companion Animal?

An animal's mere presence can bring comfort to its human companions, which is why dogs make excellent pets. As a pet, it must also adhere to all applicable regulations and ordinances.

Dogs that have not been trained to assist a specific disabled person are not considered service animals.   Border Collie Service Dog @celestialbordercolliesOpens in a new tab.Thanks to @celestialbordercollies for the photo!

Ontario Service Dogs for Emotional Support

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 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.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!

Emotional Support Animal Pet Fees

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.

Consequently, 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? Ontario does not recognize emotional support animals. Not like typical service animals, these pets aren't "task-trained." Possible lack of training

Service Dogs in Ontario: Frequently Asked Questions

In Ontario, is documentation of a service dog's existence required?

Ontario businesses and other public service providers can request medical documentation from customers who bring their service dogs into the establishment. Professions that are acceptable can be found in the table above.

How much does it cost to train a service dog?

Nobody ever claimed that a dog, much less a service dog, would be simple or inexpensive to train. 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. Service Dog Organizations in Ontario and the rest of Canada can be found in my respective directories, which can be accessed via the following links: a href="MY_REDIRECT_PREFIX" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener">Service Dog Organizations in Ontario and a href="https://theservice They require nutrition, medical attention from a veterinarian, various supplies, possibly even insurance, and more.

Socialization and Training for Dogs to Provide Emotional Support

How do they teach dogs to help with emotions? 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. 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.

How to Register Your Dog as an Ontario Service Dog

How one can acquire one's own service dog is a common question. A few things are worth keeping 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.

Furthermore, some canines were clearly meant to work and others were not. 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. Ways and means abound for acquiring a reliable service dog.

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 local ordinances mandate it for all dogs, service dogs in Ontario do not need to be registered, certified, or licensed.

To enter most public establishments, people who rely on service dogs must either have their dogs wear identification vests or present a letter or prescription from a doctor justifying the need for the dog's use.

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. Inclusion of people with disabilities in the workplace is mandatory.

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.

Providing Access in Ontario

Accessibility Ontario.Opens in a new tab.Accessibility Ontario is a great resource for learning more. in a new tab.Click here:
[email protected] is where you can send an email.
Dial (1-)416-849-8276
Dial 1-866-515-2025 or 1-800-268-7095 (TTY) toll-free. in a new tab.On Twitter: @ONAccessibility in a new tab.For more information about ON Accessibility, visit their Facebook page at
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