FAQs and Detailed Information on 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! 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. And it can help make it easier for people with disabilities to take part in society without risk.

This comprehensive guide explores the role of service dogs in Ontario from several angles. To whom this manual may be of use:

  • 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

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, policies for public buildings and housing, and much more. Let's get started, or you can check out my other article, "Ontario Service Dog Groups" (Directory). Service Dogs Ontario @katelynburelleOpens in a new tab.Everest, Katelyn Burelle's Multipurpose Service Dog

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

Introduction to Ontario's Service Dog Legislation

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. 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 reducing the impact of the impairment on daily life.
  • Access for service dogs and their handlers in public spaces
  • In most public places, service animals are welcome, including movie theaters, restaurants, doctors' offices, hotels, and government buildings.
Breed Choice for a Working Dog
Service Dog in training Ontario bishop.service.dog.in.trainingOpens in a new tab.Bishop, the Service Dog in Training @bishop.service.dog.in.training

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

Certification for Service Dogs in Ontario

There is currently no standardized procedure for certifying or testing Service Dogs in Ontario. Canadian Canine Good Citizen testOpens in a new tab.The Canadian Canine Good Citizen test is highly recommended for canine citizenship.

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."Canadian Good Citizen Dog"
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

There is no requirement in Ontario for the registration of service dogs, just as there is in the United States. This is required by the AODA and the Human Rights Code of Ontario. Neither a license nor proof of registration is required for a service animal. However, owners of service animals may be asked to show proper identification. A simple letter or prescription from a doctor stating that the animal is required due to a medical condition.

It's important that the paperwork be either:

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

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

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.@lucytheservicesibe Where I Go, You Go by Kylie Minogue

Definition of a Licensed Health Care Provider

To be considered a service animal under this Part 4, an animal must meet the following criteria:

(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 to be regulated health professionals:

To rephrase...

  • Professionals in the fields of audiology and speech pathology
  • Chiropractor
  • Nurse
  • Expert in Occupational Therapy
  • Optometrist
  • Physician
  • Surgeon
  • Physiotherapist
  • Psychologist
  • Psychotherapist
  • Counselor or psychologist
Positive and Negative Aspects of Having a Service Dog

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Both 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.

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

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

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.

The purpose of a service dog is to:

  • Assisting with routine and other responsibilities
  • Enhance people's quality of life and ensure their safety
  • 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

Incapacity may take the form of:

  • Whether or not it is visible
  • Existing from infancy
  • Evolutionary process
  • Accidentally triggered
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
  • Disorders of the Voice
  • Disabilities affecting mobility or physical activity (such as paralysis, amputation, poor balance, and/or clumsiness).
  • Head traumas
  • Conditions of the mind like PTSD and others
  • Seizure disorders, such as epilepsy
  • Mental retardation
  • Impairments in learning
  • Disorders of development
  • Problems with one's mental health
Service animals Ontario @snow_leopard_81Opens in a new tab.Snow Leopard, Blue Heeler, @snow_leopard_81

Work Examples for a Service Dog

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

Jobs for Ontario's Service Dogs:

  • Reviving a sleepwalker (PTSD sufferers)
  • Diabetic alerting, high/low blood pressure alerting, etc.
  • Wheelchair pulling
  • Pulling and pushing on 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
  • Helping people remember to take their medication at the right time
  • Providing someone with water and medication (during a panic attack, for instance)
  • Helping the handler hear important sounds (the doorbell, the fire alarm, the telephone ringing, the handler's name).
  • Crossing a street with a guide (for the blind or those with 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."
  • Putting a stop to harmful or repetitive actions by the handler (as in the case of Autism or PTSD).
  • Keeping someone safe who is having a seizure, or helping them afterward,
  • The Giant List of Service Dog Tasks (K9 Total Focus) Opens in a new tab.K9 Total Focus' Enormous Checklist of Duties for Service Dogs
Ontario service dog registration bishop.service.dog.in.trainingOpens in a new tab.Bishop, the Service Dog-in-Training Twitter Handle

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. Non-profits and charities often have extensive application processes and lengthy waiting lists, but they may be a viable option for you or a loved one in need. 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.Where I go, you go: Service Dog in Training @lucytheservicesibe is Kylie's 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.
  • If you or someone you know needs a service dog but is concerned about where to get one, there are plenty of other options.  

Trained service dogs are also available from a wide variety of non-government organizations and commercial enterprises. You could also get assistance in training your own Psychiatric service dogs Ontario @sarge.in.serviceOpens in a new tab.Therapy Dog "Sarge" (@sarge.in.service) 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, it is necessary to prepare thoroughly. Make sure you check their background and credentials. A number of groups welcome professionals as members. That way, we know that strict norms and ethical guidelines are being adhered to.

Membership Options for Working Dog Agencies in Ontario

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

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.Cricket and Saraphena, Service Dogs for the Medically Impaired

Ontario 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 a few options. 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. 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.Where I Go, You Go at Kylie's and Lucy's on Duty at Kylie's are both tweets by @lucytheservicesibe.

A psychiatric service dog is 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. 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
  • Acting as a barrier to ease someone into a group of people they may find overwhelming
  • Assisting someone in settling down after experiencing anxiety
  • 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
  • Delivering water and medicine to those who cannot
  • 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, the Multitasking Service Dog @eri_servicedog

Ontario Dogs for the Mentally Ill

The process of acquiring or training a service dog is not simple or straightforward. Getting a service dog is not a quick process, whether you train it yourself, hire a trainer, or adopt one. The same holds true if you require a service dog for mental health reasons. Let's talk about the process of acquiring an Ontario psychiatric service dog. 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. You can also seek help from another qualified medical expert, as described above.

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 @sarge.in.serviceOpens in a new tab.@sarge.in.service, "Sarge," Psychiatric Service Dog

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,
  • Spending a lot of money on a private organization's psychiatric service dog program
  • Getting the dog for mental health purposes from a charity or non-profit. Even though 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. Donations and corporate sponsorships are crucial sources of funding for nonprofit organizations.

Service Dog Legislation in Ontario: Available Online

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.

Taxis, supermarkets, and shopping centers are all examples of public places where it is expected that service animals and their handlers will be welcome, provided that local law does not prohibit service 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, the Goldendoodle Service Dog for Autism, on Twitter: @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. Unfortunately, fake service animals do exist, and they create hassles 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 @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). Only a few niches exist, mostly related to food production, such as certain subsections of 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 usual level of service is still available to the customer.

There are a few paths open 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 cases, the service animal may be required to wait elsewhere.

The laws governing service animals must be respected by all businesses. If they don't, they're obstructing justice. 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 Animals in need of a service dog are not considered pets.

A 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.

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. For this reason, service dogs and therapy dogs are not the same thing. 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.Eddie and Boomer, the therapy dogs, on Twitter: @eddieandboomer

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

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

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

  • Training a Therapy Dog, The Ultimate GuideOpens in a new tab.The Complete Reference to Educating a Therapy Dog
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?

Dogs are popular pets because of the many ways in which they can improve their owners' lives. 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.Celestial Border Collies / Instagram

Support Animals in Ontario

Mini Service Horse Service Animal @flirty.the.mini.service.horseOpens 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. In Ontario, there are no regulations for ESAs and no preferential housing policies for those who own ESAs.

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

Tenants in Ontario are protected from discrimination by landlords who forbid pets because of their emotional support function. Residential Tenancies ActOpens in a new tab.The Residential Tenancies Act specifies this in 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 Deposits and Fees

Furthermore, no pet fees may be imposed by landlords. Tenants with pets are protected from eviction. You are restricted in the types of pets you can keep.

Therefore, those who need to live with their emotional support animals shouldn't have any trouble doing so. service dog in training Ontario @bishop.service.dog.in.trainingOpens in a new tab.Bishop, the Future Service Dog @bishop.service.dog.in.training What is an emotional support animal? In Ontario, service animals for the emotionally disabled are not recognized. In contrast to most service animals, these pets are not "task-trained." They might not even have any training.

Service Dogs in Ontario: Frequently Asked Questions

In Ontario, are landlords allowed to require proof of a service dog?

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 ever claimed that training a dog, much less a service dog, would be simple or inexpensive. Training a service dog can be extremely expensive (up to $50,000 is possible) and time-consuming (months to 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. Check out my lists of Canadian and Ontario-specific Service Dog Organizations: a href="MY_REDIRECT_PREFIXhttps://theservicedogs.com/service-dog-organizations-in-ontario/" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener">Service Dog Organizations in Ontario. img src="/image/empty.gif" alt="Opens in a new tab." They require nutrition, medical attention from a veterinarian, various supplies, possibly even insurance, and more.

Psychological Service Dog Education

How do we teach dogs to help people who are experiencing emotional difficulties? They aren't, to put it simply. Ontario does not recognize the use of service animals for emotional support. 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.

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

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

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. 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 provide assistance before you make the commitment. Obtaining a reliable service dog can be accomplished in a variety of ways.

Does Ontario Issue Licenses for Service Dogs?

Ontario is not one of the states, provinces, or municipalities that issue official service dog licenses. 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.

Who Can Get an Ontario 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.

ontario.ca/accessibilityOpens in a new tab.Take a look at ontario.ca/accessibility.
Write to us at [email protected].
Dial (416) 849-8276
Accessible TTY Line: 1-800-268-7095 Toll-Free: 1-866-515-2025

twitter.com/ONAccessibilityOpens in a new tab.Follow us on Twitter at @ONAccessibility.

facebook.com/ONAccessibilityOpens in a new tab.Like us on Facebook: ONAccessibility
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