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SD, SDiT, ESA, alphabet soup?! What you need to know about US Service Dog Laws & Terms presented by Sharon Wachsler

  • Tuesday, August 29, 2017
  • 2:00 PM
  • Tuesday, August 29, 2023
  • 3:00 PM
  • Recorded Webinar


  • For Doggone safe members
  • PPG member registration
  • For Pet Owner Members
  • Public registration

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Presented by Sharon Wachsler


Have you been asked to train a service dog (SD), emotional support animal (ESA), or a personal "therapy dog" for an adult or child with disabilities? What do all these terms mean, and what are your responsibilities as a trainer? Did you know that the laws for service-dogs-in-training (SDiTs) are different from laws for trained service dogs and vary from state-to-state?

Pet dog trainers are increasingly approached by clients who want help with training a service dog or emotional support animal (or what they may refer to as a "therapy dog") for themselves or a family member. It can be very confusing for trainer and client alike to sort out these terms and the legal and training requirements behind each. This presentation will explain the legal meanings and differences between these terms in the United States, the requirements for training each, differences in US state laws for service-dogs-in-training, the standards of behavior and appearance for service dogs, and explain the reality behind the question of "certification." You'll also learn how to distinguish between legal requirements and ethical or community standards, and how to apply these concepts to working with clients.


This presentation is geared to professional dog trainers in the United States that are new to the complicated world of service dog laws and standards. No previous service dog training experience or knowledge is necessary.

By the end of this webinar, attendees will understand and be able to answer client questions on the following topics:

  • The difference between the terms "service dog," "service dog in training," "emotional support animal," and "therapy dog" and when handlers of each have access to public accommodations
  • Understand the definition of a service animal under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and where a trainer or handler of a service animal is permitted or excluded
  • Understand how laws for service-dogs-in-training (and who is a trainer under the law) vary from state-to-state and how to find out their own state's laws
  • Understand the community standards for appearance and behavior in service dogs and how these differ from legal requirements
  • Steps trainers and clients can take to protect themselves if access challenges occur

About The Presenter

Sharon Wachsler CPDT-KA, KPA-CTP is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer and Karen Pryor Academy Certified Training Partner with more than 25 years of experience in the disability community. Before she began her second career as a dog trainer, Sharon was a disability information and referral specialist and service dog owner-trainer, as well as the founder of the Assistance Dog Blog Carnival, a writer for the International Association of Assistance Dog Partners newsletter, and the blogger for the popular service-dog trainer's blog, After Gadget. Sharon opened At Your Service Dog Training in Wendell, MA, in 2014, offering private training, consulting, and group classes to service dog owner-trainers. Sharon is an experienced presenter and writer on service dog topics and enjoys consulting with and speaking to trainers, owners, and community groups about service dogs and their training.

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