Service Dog FAQ

Big shout out to all the amazing dogs performing jobs for people in need! We owe dogs so, so much. We’d like to think that as your local pet supplies store we have a pretty good knowledge and appreciation of dogs, but we’re also firm believers that you can always love your dog a little more, and can show it to them a little more.

The world can always use a little more love.

September is National Service Dog month, so we’d like to dish out a little knowledge on frequently asked questions on service dogs for this week’s PUPDATE! Also included: a gallery of adorable service dogs! If you want to learn more about service dogs or service dog programs, don’t hesitate to ask one of our team members at your local Wags to Wiskers Pet Supplies stores in Ann Arbor (2270 W. Stadium Blvd, Ann Arbor, MI, 48103) or Chelsea (1192 S. Main St, Chelsea, MI, 48118). We’d be happy to point you in the right direction.

Service Dog FAQ

1. What is a service animal?

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) defines a service animal as a “dog that has been individually trained to do work or perform tasks for an individual with a disability.”

Emotional support, therapy and comfort animals are not considered service animals under the ADA.

2. What kinds of services do these animals provide?

The dog must be trained to take a specific action when needed to assist the person with a disability. For example, a person with diabetes may have a dog that is trained to alert him when his blood sugar reaches high or low levels. A person with depression may have a dog that is trained to remind her to take her medication. Or, a person who has epilepsy may have a dog that is trained to detect the onset of a seizure and then help the person remain safe during the seizure.

Service animals can be trained to perform a wide variety of tasks for their human handlers. One of the most common examples is a blind person who uses their service dog to guide them. Other examples include a dog trained to remind someone with PTSD to take medication or alerting a person with diabetes that their blood sugar is low.

3. How do I know if a dog is a service animal?

While service dogs are not required to wear any identifying items, many owners dress their working canines in vests, ID tags or harnesses that say “service animal.” This is important because a service animal is not a pet and shouldn’t be treated as such.

People can ask two questions to identify service animals:

  • Is the dog a service animal needed for a disability?

  • What task or activity has the dog been trained to perform?

4. How should I act around a service animal?

Since it’s impossible to identify service dogs 100 percent of the time, it’s best to always ask before touching or interacting with someone else’s dog. Distracting a service animal with attention, petting or treats can prevent them from doing their jobs.


These are the most common questions we get at our Wags to Wiskers Pet Supplies stores, and these are the same kinds of questions that we utilize while training our employees. We try to be the best place for pet supplies in the Ann Arbor and Chelsea areas and we are always on the lookout to improve our practices and our relationship with our pets and their people. Enjoy the gallery!