The Service Dog Vest: Is it a “Must” or a “Maybe”?

  • Home
  • /
  • Blog
  • /
  • The Service Dog Vest: Is it a “Must” or a “Maybe”?

By: Verina Hassett Updated: June 15, 2020

two dogs wearing service dog vests

Legally speaking, it is not mandatory for service and assistance dogs to wear a vest while they are out and about with you. But there are some very good reasons to do so! Do you want to know more about the virtues of the service dog vest? Read on.

For dogs that do wear a vest, it is clear to others that they are providing you with some form of assistance. It also shows that the dog is a VIP with a very important job to do!

Unlike with Service Dogs, an Emotional Support Dog Vest Means Nothing Without an ESA Letter!

Under the ADA, people with service dogs only have to answer two questions about the animal. One question is whether it is a service dog that helps with a disability. The other question is what specific task or tasks the dog performs.

However, people who benefit from an emotional support animal for their disability can be asked to provide an emotional support or ESA letter.

An airline may request this letter if you wish to fly with your emotional support dog or cat. So, although a vest may help when you have your ESA with you on a plan, it is not enough!

Likewise, a landlord or property owner can ask for your ESA letter if you need to have your emotional support dog or cat live with you in rental housing.

How to Get Your ESA Letter: CertaPet’s Simple Process!        

At Certapet we have a simple process. This starts with finding out if you qualify for an emotional support animal.

  • First, take answer the questions in our free online pre-screening. This takes around 5 minutes and will let you know whether you may be eligible for an ESA to help your condition.
  • We then, if you wish, put you in touch with a licensed mental health professional (LMHP) in your State. They will complete your evaluation and sign your ESA letter.
  • You can have your ESA letter in as little as 48 hrs.

The Difference Between ESAs and Psychiatric Service Animals Under the ADA

Emotional support animals and psychiatric service animals both help individuals with their mental health, but there is a difference!

  • Psychiatric service animals are trained to perform specific tasks related to a person’s mental illness. If a dog has been specifically trained to sense and respond in a particular way to symptoms such a panic attack, they could be a psychiatric service animal.
  • Emotional support animals are not trained to perform specific tasks in relation to a disability. They do, however, provide comfort and reassurance to the person. So the presence and company of an ESA may help, in general, calm someone having a panic attack.

black cocker spaniel with service dog vest sitting with teddy bear

According to the ADA, a Service Dog Vest or Service Dog Harness is Not a Must!

Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), it is not compulsory for service dogs to wear either a vest or a harness. Part of the reason for this is to do with the very purpose of the Act itself. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is the federal law that protects people with disabilities from various forms of discrimination.

Many disabilities aren’t readily obvious to another person. For people who do not want it publically known that they have a disability, they may choose to not dress their dog in a vest. Or use any other accessories or gear that will that label them as a person with a disability.

Why It’s Important for Dogs to Wear Their Service Dog Vests!

Being dressed in a dog vest is not an absolute must. But there are some good reasons to have an assistance dog wear a named service dog vest in public. These include:

A service dog’s right to be in public places: Service dogs are permitted in a wide range of public places with their handlers under the ADA. This is because they are trained to perform tasks for the person’s disability. An appropriate dog vest is a way of reassuring business owners and other people in public areas that the presence of the dog is allowed.

  • Your right to have an ESA in certain places: People with emotional support animals are not able to take them to public places as someone with a service dog can. However, there are 2 federal laws protecting an ESA owner’s right to have their ESA with them on commercial flights and in rented housing. Some States and local authorities also have their own laws that give someone with an ESA a little more scope to take their animal to public places. Having your emotional support dog in a vest, along with your ESA letter can help in these situations.
  • Assistance dogs can be various breeds: Absolutely any breed of dog can be either a service dog, emotional support animal or therapy dog. And that goes from the smallest to the largest too! When you are out in public, if your assistance dog is wearing a vest, this lets other people know that this dog needs to focus.
  • Distraction free working: As anyone who shares their life with a dog knows, being in public with a dog can be a very social time for everyone! When a service dog is wearing a vest, this lets people know that they are in ‘work’ mode. Wearing a vest or using a harness prevents people from distracting a dog with a job to do.small chihuahua wearing service dog harness

The Same Goes for Pups Wearing a “Service Dog in Training” Vest!

Training a service dog involves a great deal of time and positive reinforcement. After all, they need to learn the skills, focus, and behaviors for a particular disability. Under the ADA, you can’t take a service dog in training into all public places.

However, part of any service dog training involves socialization. They also have to know how to behave appropriately in public places. Also, many people choose to train or “upskill” their existing pet or emotional support dog’s training to that of a therapy dog or service dog status.

For any pups in training wearing a “service dog in training” vest is a good idea. Having one on while you are going for a walk gives people a heads up that they should ask before they come in close to gush over your pup!

Fraudsters Beware! Passing off a Pet in a Service Animal Vest is a Crime!

Don’t just pop a service animal vest on your pet pooch and take them to the movies. This type of fraud includes hefty fines and prosecutions that will leave you with a criminal record.

These laws exist because of the abuse of laws that protect people who genuinely need assistance animals. Passing off an animal as one that provides assistance for a disability when it doesn’t is both legally and morally wrong!

Service Dog Vest Amazon: They Have Tons of Service Dog Supplies!

You’ll find sizes and styles to fit all pups. Look for reflective features for safety and visibility. Some also have adjustable straps and handles for the comfort of the dog and handler. You can also choose from a range of fabrics to suit different climates.

Click Here To Get A Vest!

If You are Looking for a Therapy Dog Vest or Emotional Support Animal Vest: They’ve Got You Covered!

Remember to get the wording right! Emotional support animal vests or harnesses are for those pups that provide comfort and emotional support to an individual with a psychological disability. A therapy dog vest may be worn by a dog that has been trained to visit people in group settings or facilities.

german shepherd standing in field wearing service animal vest

If Service Dogs Don’t Wear Their Vests, How Will Everyone Know They’re Superhero Dogs?

Service dogs of all shapes and sizes do deserve a bit of recognition, there’s no doubt about it! Wearing a service dog vest or emotional support vest is not a “must do”. However, there are definitely many good reasons to do so. Stand proud with the awesome animal that helps you live your life!

If you don’t need a service dog, but think that an ESA would be beneficial to your mental and emotional health, why not get the process started and take CertaPet’s quick and simple 5-minute pre-screening?

Commonly Asked Questions on Service Dog Vests

Can you take service dogs in training anywhere in public if they have a vest?

Should your emotional support dog wear a vest on a plane?

Are there different types of vests for assistance dogs?

You may also like

Page [tcb_pagination_current_page] of [tcb_pagination_total_pages]

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}

All product and Company names are Trademarks™ or Registered® trademarks of their respective holders.

Disclosure: Bear in mind that some of the links in this post are affiliate links and if you go through them to make a purchase may earn a commission. Keep in mind that we link these companies and their products because of their quality and not because of the commission we receive from your purchases. The decision is yours, and whether or not you decide to buy something is completely up to you.