FAQs and Detailed Information on Service Dogs in Ontario [2023].

Table of contents

Is the topic of Ontario Service Dogs intriguing you? Slightly over 2 In Ontario alone, 6 million people are disabled. Almost a quarter of the population of Ontario! As an aid to their handicap, some people rely on service dogs.

Because of its potential to lend critical assistance with regular tasks and life, this is of paramount importance. 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
  • Occupant of the Position of Business Owner
  • Close relative
  • Citizen or resident
  • Individuals contemplating the acquisition of 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 can go, questions you can ask the handler, if the dog needs to be certified or registered, policies for public buildings and housing, and more. 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

Assistance Dogs in Ontario
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.@the_working_willow Service Dog "Willow"

In Ontario, what qualifies as a service animal?

Customer Service Standard of the AODA,Opens in a new tab.An animal is considered a service animal in accordance with the AODA (Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act) Customer Service Standard if:

  1. It has outward signs that help identify it, such as a harness or a vest; or...
  2. A letter or other document from a licensed medical professional attesting to the service animal's necessity due to the user's disability must be presented.
  • A Service Dog is trained to assist a person with a disability.
  • The dog aids in overcoming some of the impairment's practical restrictions.
  • When accompanied by their handler or owner, service dogs are granted special privileges in public spaces.
  • 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 Service 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

According to the Customer Service Standard, any kind of animal can be used as a service animal. service dog training Ontario @lucytheservicesibeOpens in a new tab.A "Lucy on Duty" tweet from Kylie's @lucytheservicesibe

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 for canine citizenship.

To make sure dogs are well-mannered at home, in public, and around other dogs and people, the Canadian Canine Good Citizen Test can be helpful.

  • 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.Image courtesy of @luna_exploregon

Registration for Ontario Service Dogs

Service dogs in Ontario do not require registration, just like in the US. Legally, this is a violation of the AODA and the Ontario Human Rights Code. 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. The letter/prescription from the doctor explaining the disability and the need for the animal is all that is required.

The required paperwork must either:

  • Evidence from a certified medical expert
  • 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.

Service Dogs in Ontario - Service Animal Registration in Ontario

You are not

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

Who exactly is a 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 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 Ontario Disability Support Program Act

Any practitioner who holds membership in the following academies is considered to be a regulated health professional:

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

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Possibilities and Drawbacks of Having 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 if you decide that getting a service animal is the right choice for you. 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. 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.@dog.human.duo "Kodiak" the service dog

Who Can Get an Ontario Service Dog?

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

Guide dogs are trained 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.

  • To be Seen or Not Seen
  • 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
  • Inability to hear or total deafness
  • Problems Communicating
  • 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
  • Mental retardation
  • Impairments in learning
  • Disabilities in development
  • Problems with one's mental health
Service animals Ontario @snow_leopard_81Opens in a new tab.Twitter handle for a 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. Here are just a few of the many ways in which these incredible animals can aid humankind:

Functions of Service Dogs in Ontario:

  • Rousing a sleepwalker (a person with PTSD, for instance)
  • Diabetic alerting, high/low blood pressure alerting, etc.
  • Wheelchair pulling
  • Adjusting drawers and cupboards
  • Toting a load of groceries
  • Using a bank or credit card to make a purchase
  • Fear of entering a strange room due to a perceived threat (post-traumatic stress disorder).
  • Doing the wash
  • Instructing patients to take their pills at regular intervals
  • 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 phone ringing, the handler's name).
  • Crossing a street with a guide (for the blind or those with low vision).
  • DPT (Deep Pressure Therapy) is a method in which a service dog applies pressure to a patient in order to facilitate a psychological shift from the flight-or-fight response to a more calm and relaxed state.
  • Helping the caretaker break harmful routines (autism, PTSD).
  • Keeping an individual safe during a seizure or going to get assistance 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 Future Service Dog @bishop.service.dog.in.training

Service Dogs Ontario – How To Get One

Where can you obtain a service dog if you decide that such a dog would be helpful to you? 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).
  • Another option is to adopt a dog and train him yourself with the help and assistance of an experienced dog-training professional
  • Alternatively, one could look into acquiring a service dog from a reliable organization. It's possible that you or someone you know could benefit from a non-profit or charity that has a lengthy waiting list and/or application process. If you're looking for a list of service dog organizations in Ontario, check out my recent article on the subject!
German Shepherd service dog Ontario @lucytheservicesibeOpens in a new tab.Service Dog in Training (SDiT) @lucytheservicesibe is Kylie's "Where I Go, You Go" motto.

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. You could also get assistance in training your own Psychiatric service dogs Ontario @sarge.in.serviceOpens in a new tab."Sarge," the Psychiatric Service Dog @sarge.in.service

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

Be wary, though, because dog training is currently a highly unregulated industry. This holds true in most cases, and in Ontario, it also applies to service animals.

Therefore, it is crucial to prepare thoroughly. 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 practices are adhered to.

Professional Memberships for Service Dogs in Ontario are available here.

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.

Professional Dog Trainers of Canada

Canadian Association of Professional Dog TrainersOpens in a new tab.Anyone interested in learning more or getting assistance training a service dog should check out the Canadian Association of Professional Dog Trainers.

You can: Medical alert service dog Poodle @cricket_n_saraphenaOpens in a new tab.Dogs that Detect Medical Emergencies: @cricket_n_saraphena

Guide to Obtaining an Ontario 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. Do it yourself dog training
  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
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.

The term "psychiatric service dog" refers to a dog that has been specially 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
  • 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 following an outburst
  • Helping someone who is anxious or fearful feel more secure
  • Restoring someone to the here-and-now
  • Inspiring a sense of security in one's own quarters
  • Delivering water and medicine to those who cannot
  • Aiding oneself
  • Helping with equilibrium
  • Continually prompting a patient to take their medication.
  • Overwhelming feelings are interrupted
service dog registration Ontario @eri_servicedogOpens in a new tab.Eri, the Multitasking Service Dog @eri_servicedog

Mental Health Assistance Dogs in Ontario

In case it isn't clear, getting or training a service dog isn't a breeze. 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. Discuss obtaining a service dog for mental health in Ontario. You may also be interested in reading my piece on Deep Pressure Therapy (DPT) service dogs for the mentally ill.

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

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

This is something that any service dog organization you apply to will want to see when you submit 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.Therapy Dog "Sarge" (@sarge.in.service) 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.
  • Getting the service dog for mental health issues from a charitable group. 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 or non-profit organization is doing the training, the price tag for a single service dog is at least $20,000. Funding for nonprofits comes primarily from contributions and sponsorships.

Service Dog Legislation in Ontario: Available Online

In Ontario, it is the law for all businesses that are open to the public to allow service animals inside. 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.

A service animal and its handler are entitled to the same access to public accommodations, such as taxis, supermarkets, and shopping malls, as everyone else, so long as no such access is prohibited by local 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" the Goldendoodle Service Dog for Autism @bri.and.piper

Can You Demand ID for an Ontario Service Dog?

It is legal in Ontario for businesses and other public service providers to request proof that a customer has a service dog. A prescription or letter from a doctor from the aforementioned fields 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 at @the_working_willow

Ontario's Access Rights for Service Animals: Some Restrictions and Exceptions

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.Medical alert goldendoodle "Koda" (@thatlilbearkoda)

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. 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.

Business establishments are required by law to accommodate service animals. If not, 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 A service dog is not a pet.

When Should You Seek Out a Therapy Dog?

A therapy dog is typically a pet that enjoys social situations with many people at once, such as those found in a classroom, nursing home, or hospital.

These dogs may or may not have received training, but they are not customized to assist a single person with a unique disability. The distinction between a therapy dog and a service dog largely rests on this factor. 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.@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.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

Definition of a Companion Dog

Dogs are popular pets because their mere presence can improve the lives of their owners. And it must adhere to all the standard ordinances and regulations pertaining to 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.Thanks to @celestialbordercollies for the photo!

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

Ontario does not have any form of ESA recognition. In Ontario, there are no regulations for ESAs, and ESAs do not have 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.Section 14 of the Residential Tenancies Act states the following. PTSD Service Dog Ontario Canada Different sized and bred dogs can serve the same purpose. @vos_ptsd_servicedogOpens in a new tab.Thanks to @vos_ptsd_servicedog for the photo!

Emotional Support Animal Pet Deposits and Fees

Moreover, no pet fees may be imposed by landlords. The presence of a pet is not grounds for eviction. You are restricted in the types of pets you can keep.

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 @bishop.service.dog.in.trainingOpens in a new tab.Bishop, the Service Dog-in-Training Twitter Handle What is an emotional support animal? Ontario does not recognize emotional support animals. Unlike most service animals, they have not been "task-trained." A lack of training is a possibility.

Service Dogs in Ontario: Frequently Asked Questions

Does Ontario law permit requesting documentation 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. For a complete list of approved experts, see above.

How much does it cost to train a service dog?

Nobody ever claimed that training a dog, much less a service dog, would be simple or inexpensive. 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).

Check out my article on the benefits and drawbacks of getting a service dog to help you make up your mind, or read up on how to choose the best service dog breed to suit your 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_PREFIXhttps://theservicedogs.com/service-dog-organizations-in-ontario/" 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.

Educating Dogs to Serve as Emotional Companions

How do dogs learn to comfort their owners when they're feeling down? They aren't, to put it simply. Ontario does not recognize the use of service animals for emotional support. Emotional support animals are considered to be pets and are therefore permitted by landlords in Ontario.

While service animals are trained to perform specific tasks, ESAs are not. 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 still a puppy so that you can enjoy it for as long as possible afterward. It's important to remember that dogs have limited lifespans and can't work indefinitely.

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. Obtaining a reliable service dog can be accomplished in a variety of ways.

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 be treated equally in the workplace.

Who Can Get an Ontario Service Dog?

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

Ontario Accessibility

Accessibility Ontario.Opens in a new tab.Check out Accessibility Ontario if you want to learn more.

ontario.ca/accessibilityOpens in a new tab.You can learn more about accessibility in Ontario by visiting ontario.ca/accessibility.
For more information about accessibility in Ontario, please contact [email protected].
Dial (416) 849-8276
Please call us at 1-866-515-2025 or 1-800-268-7095.

twitter.com/ONAccessibilityOpens in a new tab.Accessibility on Twitter: @ONAccessibility

facebook.com/ONAccessibilityOpens in a new tab.Check out our Facebook page at facebook.com/ONAccessibility.
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