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 In Ontario alone, there are 6 million people who are disabled. Almost a quarter of the population of Ontario! 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. And it can help make it easier for people with disabilities to take part in society without risk.

Different perspectives on service dogs in Ontario are presented in this comprehensive guide. You are in the right place if you are:

  • A homeowner or tenant
  • Employer
  • Employee
  • Owner of a Company
  • Associated Person
  • Citizen or resident
  • An Individual Considering Obtaining a Service Dog
  • A curious observer who wants to know more

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 @katelynburelle

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

An Outline 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.Twitter handle for service dog "Willow"

The 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. Individuals who require the assistance of a service animal due to a disability must present appropriate documentation (such as a letter) from a licensed medical professional.
  • A Service Dog is trained to assist a person with a disability.
  • The dog assists in reducing the impact of the impairment on daily life.
  • 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

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.@lucytheservicesibe is Kylie's "Lucy on Duty."

Ontario's Certification for 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 for canine citizenship.

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.A Canine Good Citizen in 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

Dogs used for service purposes do not require registration in Ontario, unlike in the US. 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 disability is all that is required.

It's important that the paperwork be 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.

Service Dogs in Ontario - Service Animal Registration 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 a person with a disability for 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 one of the following licensed health professionals stating that the individual needs the animal due to the disability:

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

Members of the following academies are considered regulated health professionals:

So, to sum up...

  • 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

Allow JavaScript in your browser.

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 it all.

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

A simple letter from your doctor may be all that's required to get you started with your new best friend, the service animal. As mentioned up top, you could also obtain your letter from another doctor.

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 meets the criteria for one.

Trained service dogs are able to:

  • Assist with routine and ad hoc tasks
  • 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

Impairments can take many forms.

  • Whether or not it is seen
  • Always be there
  • Evolutionary process
  • 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

Limited in some way, just a few examples

  • Lack of sight or total blindness
  • Problems with hearing or total deafness
  • Disorders of the Voice
  • Disabilities affecting one's ability to move around physically (such as paralysis, amputation, poor balance, and/or clumsiness).
  • Damage to the brain
  • Conditions of the mind like PTSD and others
  • Seizure disorders, 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, tweets under the handle @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)
  • 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
  • For those with PTSD, entering a room requires a thorough search for potential danger.
  • Washing clothes
  • Instructing patients to take their pills at regular intervals
  • Bringing a person medication and a bottle of water (in the case of 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).
  • 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 Future Service Dog

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).
  • 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 long waiting list and/or application process. 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

  • Note that ADI only accepts applications for membership and accreditation from preexisting non-profit or charitable programs.
  • You can get a service dog that is both ethical and high-quality from a wide variety of other sources.  

Many non-government groups and businesses also provide professionally trained service dogs. And if you'd rather train your own, they might even Psychiatric service dogs Ontario in a new tab.Therapy Dog "Sarge" Tweets at

Currently, the dog training industry lacks proper oversight.

The dog training industry is currently highly unregulated, so proceed with caution. This holds true in most cases, and in Ontario, it also applies to service animals.

Therefore, preparation is key. Check their background and credentials before hiring them. Numerous groups provide opportunities for professionals to join as members. This guarantees adherence to strict norms and ethical guidelines.

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.

Professional Dog 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 other 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 among these possibilities
how to register a service dog in Ontario @lucytheservicesibeOpens in a new tab.Kylie's Where I Go, You Go and Lucy's on Duty at Kylie's @lucytheservicesibe

The term "psychiatric service dog" refers to a dog that has been 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
  • Sensation through touch
  • Helping people communicate with one another
  • 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 after experiencing frustration
  • Helping someone who is anxious or fearful feel more secure
  • Restoring someone to the here and now
  • Aiding in the establishment of a secure inner sanctum
  • Giving water and medicine to someone who can't
  • Aiding oneself
  • 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, can do it all.

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. The same holds true when you need a dog to help with your mental health. Let's talk about the process of acquiring an Ontario psychiatric service dog. 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?

You can get a psychiatric service dog in a few different ways: by training your own dog, by hiring someone to help you train your dog, or by acquiring one from a private business or a charity. The first step is to schedule an appointment with your doctor to obtain a letter of recommendation. You can also seek help from another qualified medical expert, as described above.

Include this with your application to any service dog organization, as they will require it. 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

Obtaining a service dog for mental health in Ontario can be done in a few different ways:

  • 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.
  • 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).
  • Whether a for-profit business or a charity is doing the training, the price tag for a single service dog is still 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. They have a responsibility to accommodate customers with disabilities by letting them bring their service animals with them everywhere they go.

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 the same legal protections.

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" the Goldendoodle Service Dog for Autism @bri.and.piper

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 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.Friends of the working service dog "Willow" @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'

A person who is disabled and uses a service animal may want or need to go somewhere that is open to the public but does not legally allow service animals or service dogs in Ontario. 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.

Options for providers are limited but not nonexistent. 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 Working dogs are not pets

Explained: What 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.

While it's possible that some of these dogs have received training, they are not custom-trained to assist anyone with a particular set of needs. This is the key distinction between a service dog and a therapy dog. 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 spread happiness and ease anxiety. Therapy Dog in Canada @eddieandboomerOpens in a new tab.@eddieandboomer, Eddie the therapy dog, and Boomer.

People in a variety of settings benefit from the presence of therapy dogs because their owners take them there.

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.@eddieandboomer, Eddie the Therapy Dog

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.Canine First Responder to Medical Emergencies: @cricket_n_saraphena

Definition of a Companion Dog

An animal's mere presence can bring comfort to its human companions, which is why dogs make excellent pets. In addition, it must adhere to the standard regulations and ordinances that are in place for domesticated animals.

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.Celestial Border Collies / Instagram

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

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.

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.Residential Tenancies Act Section 14 states the following. PTSD Service Dog Ontario Canada All sizes and breeds of dogs are acceptable to serve as service animals. @vos_ptsd_servicedogOpens in a new tab.This picture was taken by: @vos_ptsd_servicedog

Emotional Support Animal Pet Fees

Moreover, 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. Unlike most service animals, they have not been "task-trained." Possible lack of training

Questions About Ontario's Service Dog Program

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. Refer to the list of approved experts up top for details.

Costs associated with training 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 may be obtained for free or at a low cost from a group that matches people in need with dogs. 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, veterinary attention, various supplies, possibly medical insurance, and a few other things.

Psychological Service Dog Education

How do they teach dogs to help with emotions? They aren't, to put it simply. 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

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

It takes a special breed of dog to make a good 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.

There are also dogs that aren't suited to working and those that are. 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. 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.

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.

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.

In Ontario, Who Can Get a 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.To learn more about accessibility in Ontario, please go to:
Reach us at [email protected].
Dial (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 at: @ONAccessibility in a new tab.Like us on Facebook: ONAccessibility
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