How to Certify My Dog As a Service Dog in Colorado

By Jo Chester


According to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), a service dog is “individually trained to do work or perform tasks for a person with a disability” Federal law, in the form of the ADA, does not require certification for a dog to be considered a service dog, but states can develop their own certification requirements. The Legal Center for People with Disabilities and Older People is the source of all current information regarding service animals.

Step 1

Be aware of your needs before you choose your dog. If you know that you need help standing or pulling a wheelchair, then you know that a small dog is not for you. If you require a dog that will indicate an impending seizure or asthma attack or that will pick things up from the floor for you, then a small dog might be adequate.

Step 2

Decide between a puppy and a mature dog. If your needs are currently met by a mature dog or other assistance, you may have time to train a puppy yourself or with the help of a professional trainer. If you need an immediate replacement dog or have never had a service dog before, then you may wish to select an older dog through an organization.

Step 3

Know the criteria for choosing a dog. The Volhard Puppy Aptitude Test (PAT) is one commonly used selection tool. While the tests are usually performed by professional trainers, you can use these tests as guidelines if you are selecting your own puppy.

Step 1

Find a professional dog trainer or dog training club. Even if you are a skilled dog trainer, you will occasionally need a helping hand to teach your puppy or your dog certain skills. A second trainer can also provide additional training insight or knowledge, as well as necessary physical assistance.

Step 2

Begin with the most basic training available to your dog’s age group. If you have a very young puppy, then beginning with the AKC’s S.T.A.R. Puppy program would be a good training choice. If your dog is older, a Canine Good Citizen (CGC) program — or something similar — will provide a foundation for future training. A second benefit to the CGC is that it is similar to testing programs used by some service dog organizations.

Step 3

Teach your dog to specialize. In Colorado, the service dog must be able to perform tasks for a person who is physically disabled but who is not blind or deaf. Your dog should be able to perform the basic functions that will assist you with activities of daily living that might have been limited by your disability. In addition to these particular tasks, your dog will need to be able to unload from a vehicle in a controlled manner, enter through a doorway in a controlled fashion, sit and lie down on command and be able to conduct himself appropriately in a public place, among other things.

Step 4

Register and certify your dog. Registration and certification is typically handled online. No state or federal organizations require certification at this time, so testing is not done on a local basis. You must be prepared to attest to the validity of your claim of disability, as well as to the skills that your dog possesses. Payment of a fee registers your dog and entitles you to receive service animal patches, ID cards and information cards. You will also be entitled to purchasing equipment, such as harnesses and leashes, that will aid in identifying your dog as a service animal.
Comments (10)
Oct 11, 2012 marijane.gray
I can not fathom how this was even published here, seeing as it has egregiously incorrect information and promotes fraud. THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS SERVICE DOG CERTIFICATION OR REGISTRATION. Federal law, under the Americans With Disabilities Act, very clearly states this. States DO NOT set their own certification requirements, as federal law trumps state law and it already says NO CERTIFICATION REQUIRED. The websites referred to, every last one of them, are SCAM sites. They require no proof of disability nor of the dog's training. They take your money and send you ID cards that have no legal validity whatsoever. This causes exceptional harm to those with legitimate service dogs. When someone shows that fraud ID card to gain entry somewhere with their dog, the business owner now believes that service dogs are supposed to have them. So the next REAL service dog team that tries to come there gets hassled, harassed, ILLEGALLY asked for identification (that's right, it's against the law to ask for ID for a service dog) and denied access all because someone got ripped off by one of these scam sites, and now YOU are promoting them! These scam sites are used by people who are not disabled and do not have service dogs but think they're entitled to commit fraud so they can take their precious little fluffball everywhere with them. THAT IS ILLEGAL and you have just given people a how-to on how to do it. If people are caught fraudulently using ID purchased on these sites to present their dogs as service dogs, they will face fines, jail time, and permanent loss of social security benefits. EVERY AND ANY website that says they will register or certify your dog for a fee is a SCAM. Avoid them like the plague they are. And let's not even get started on ''choosing a seizure alert dog'' can't choose one. You can not train a dog to alert to seizures, they have to have the natural ability to do so. There are way more guidelines to selecting a service dog candidate than the Volhard test. That does not tailor selection to specific disabilities needs. You do not ''select between a puppy or an older dog''. When owner training a service dog, you want to start with a candidate as young as possible so that it will have the longest possible working life. So-called ''older dogs'' from organizations are typically 2-3 years old and have had 18 months to 2 years of training already. You don't start training with a 3 year old dog. You don't have your pet dog take the CGC and think it's a service dog now. Pleas e take this article down. There is just so much utterly wrong information in it I would hate for anyone to read it and get so outrageously misinformed about service dogs.
Oct 11, 2012 RoxyGirl.W
Everything that marijane.gray is 100% correct. This article has no business being here and you are seriously wrong on so many "facts".
Oct 11, 2012 LeighAnneNovak
I agree with both comments above. This article should be publicly condemned by The Daily Puppy and promptly REMOVED!
Oct 11, 2012 kyle.walpole
Presenting a pet as a "service animal" or falsely claiming a disability in order to do so, is fraud and one can be punished under both state and federal fraud statutes. This "article" is deceptive. "Payment of a fee registers your dog and entitles you to receive service animal patches, ID cards and information cards. You will also be entitled to purchasing equipment, such as harnesses and leashes, that will aid in identifying your dog as a service animal." Entitled to purchasing equipment??? Service animals should be trained and tested according to Assistance Dogs International standards and most legitimate organizations, such as Canine Companions for Independence, provide service animals, and all equipment and follow-up support, free of charge to qualified applicants admitted into "team training" and paired with service dog. This "article" seems to represent the growing trend of those who pass off their pets as service animals. This poses a significant risk to legitimate service animals and their handlers, and to the public.
Mar 16, 2014 /dustydebandi
I must say that this was a very informative article but to add to this a link to the witch is a business that does nothing to require proof that you animal is a true service dog is disheartening not to mention that Fake Service Dog Registries make it difficult for those of us who truly are disabled and require a service dog. Why purchase such equipment, registrations and ID's along with certificates when the law does not require such unless you are trying to pass your dog off as a service dog when in fact he is not. I am blind and have had my $60,000 Guide Dog attacked by a person who had a dog that he was trying to pass off as a service dog and was ill behaved thanks to business who make a killing on selling service dog supplies and charging out of pocket to register your animal when he is not a legit service dog. Shame on you for this article.
Mar 16, 2014 /dustydebandi
I reported content as inappropriate as well as contacted them. We all should do this.
Apr 13, 2014 AforAdvocacy
I have a hatred for fraud in any form. There has been a proliferation of fake service dogs in Colorado, such proliferation corresponding in time to the ultraliberal frame of thinking of the pot smoking citizens and the Hickenlooper administration. These phenomena are a result of several decades of propaganda by liberals in which the idea than anyone has a right to do anything has been brainwashed into generations of dumbed down Denver schoolchildren by the criminal school system known as DPS. So when we see gangbangers and hypersexual behavior and hatred towards the English language and the Constitution taught in DPS, directly and indirectly, we see why people think there are no consequences to their behaviors. I am the attorney who will sue you for $$$ financially if your fake service dog attemps to bite me. I will win in civil court where I will collect $$$ damages, and additional $$$ compensation because of the fraud you have committed. I will create a completely separate attack on the fake service dog owner in criminal court, because Colorado Law does provide a framework for criminal charges. Warning: keep you fake service dogs at home.
Apr 21, 2014 HeidiS
Excuse me "AforAdvocacy", who are you to threaten anyone? Obviously fraudulent behavior of any kind is a problem, but turning that into this vitriolic rant about liberals, which funny enough has nothing to do with the topic, just makes you look like a jerk! You have the right to sue anyone you want if you are actually wronged, but your taking it a little far when you post comments like this.
Aug 26, 2014 Sarah Kathryn
I am here to comment regarding the scam certification registries mentioned in this article as well. Please edit this article to correct this harmful and false information. If a person is self-training a service dog, there are criteria that must be met in order to attain public access. The dog must perform necessary individually trained tasks for his or her handler. After the dog has clocked at least 120 hours of training, with 30 of those hours spent on outings, the dog must pass a public access test as outlined by Assistance Dogs International. There are very few laws regarding service dog training, which is both good and bad. It is wonderful because it allows disabled people, myself included, to train their own service dog. However, people all too often abuse this system and try to pass off a poorly trained pet as a service dog. These scam assistance dog registries perpetuate this injustice. It is so important that we call attention to these websites to prevent others from unwittingly supporting such a despicable and selfish practice that is making life more difficult for service dogs and their handlers.
Dec 8, 2015 kieishapc
All of these people, who made you the boss? Who taught Canine Companions for Independence? Ah yes, it was some person who started with a passion and a want to help. Because they were first or second does that make them the only ones allowed to ever have the same need? Get over yourselves. Thank you for he article. I appreciate being able to have ALL information , good and bad, so I may be able to make a well-rounded informed decision. It is up to the reader to vigorously seek all forms of information on the subject of inquiry in order to be well informed. I thank you for providing this resource. Just as much as I appreciate hearing the comments of those in opposition. However, demanding that someone should not be allowed to do this or that, or demand that the article be removed because it does not sit with your point-of-view, in my opinion, is the most UN-American thing I have ever heard.
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