Who Qualifies for a Service Dog

Who Qualifies for a Service Dog


To be eligible for a service dog, an individual must:

  • Be at least 12 years of age unless service dog is needed for a child with autism (see below)

  • Have a diagnosed physical disability, anxiety disorder such as PTSD, debilitating chronic illness, or neurological disorder affecting at least one limb

  • Reside in a stable home environment

  • Be physically and cognitively capable of participating in the process of training, up to one hour per day.

First, make sure your disability is stable. You are not ready to focus on caring for and training a service dog candidate until you are able to take care of yourself.
Second, you have a suitable physical, social and emotional environment for a dog and the ability to provide for a dog’s needs.
Third, make sure you have the right dog for the job!
Fourth, earn or raise the funds needed to care for your dog and train her to a professional level.
Fifth, create a support team to help you.

  • Be able to independently command and handle a service dog

  • Be able to meet the physical, emotional, and financial needs of a service dog

  • Have no other dog in the home (other animals as pets are permitted)


To be eligible for a service dog, a child with autism must:

  • Be 6-12 years old

  • Have no other dog in the home (other animals as pets are permitted)

  • Be enrolled in an ongoing education program

  • Be enrolled in a speech, physical, occupational or recreational therapy program

  • Have strong family support

  • Have a parent, guardian, or sibling over 18 who resides in the home trained as a facilitator

  • Have no other dog in the home (other animals as pets are permitted)





When Animal Talk receives a request to consider either finding a potential service dog or training the family pet for a specific service, we begin the process by telling the clients that any dog that Animal Talk certifies for service must first produce a letter from a physician somewhat like a prescription for medicine.

In other words, qualified physician who has treated a patient with a disability in the past 6 months in the field of the disability, stating that the patient has a specific disability and would benefit from an assistance from a service dog.  The physician’s letter must state exactly what specific tasks the dog is required to master to provide the needed assistance.

In the opinion of Animal Talk this letter from a physician, stating that someone has a disability and requires the specific services of a service or assistance dog is similar to someone who applies to social security for disability benefits.

This signed and dated letter (prescription) is presented along with the downloaded application form and submitted to Animal Talk for review. Animal Talk may possibly ask for follow-up information and determines the urgency of the service need, etc. and begins the process of training and if at all possible set up a meeting with the recipient and the dog to determine compatibility.

Not every dog is suitable for every recipient.

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