You are not required to certify your service dog under Colorado service dog laws. However, your dog must be well-behaved in public and highly trained to complete specific tasks to assist you with your disability. You and your service dog may legally enter public buildings and businesses and get housing without having to pay a pet fee.
Service dog certification requirements
Service dogs assist individuals with disabilities to help them live their daily lives. They perform specific tasks that help the person to be more independent. Some tasks a service dog might perform include guiding a blind person, alerting a person to low blood sugar or a seizure, or giving reminders to take daily medication.
Service dog breeds vary depending on the tasks they must perform. For example, larger breeds are suitable to assist with mobility tasks while smaller dogs are capable of working as hearing or medical alert dogs. As long as the dog can perform the necessary tasks, there are no specific breed requirements.
Colorado service dog laws do not require service dogs to be certified or licensed. They must be well-trained to perform the tasks specific to assisting the person with their disability. Most service dogs are professionally trained, but individuals can train their own dogs.
Certify your service dog
Although it is not required, you can opt to certify or register your service dog as it may save you some hassle, especially if your disability and the tasks your dog performs for you are not readily visible. Some organizations, such as Service Dog Certifications, will allow you to register your service dog for a small fee. Registering your service dog is not required by the ADA or Colorado law. Registering your dog will allow him to show up in a search with the organization you registered with, but there is no national or central database for service dogs.
Alternatively, some professional trainers will offer certification when your dog completes the training program. For example, for specialized service dog training, Colorado based Guardian Service Dogs is an organization in Colorado Springs that trains service dogs for veterans and issues a GSD Service Dog Certificate. Dogs must complete the training program which includes basic obedience, public access training to teach your dog to work in public places, and individual task training to teach him the jobs specific to your needs.
Colorado service dog laws
Service dogs are protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and individuals can legally take them into businesses and housing. However, assistance animals do not have the same protections. An assistance animal has far less, if any, training and does not perform any specific tasks. These are also referred to as emotional support animals or companion animals.
Individuals with disabilities have the right under the ADA to keep assistance animals in their homes. However, they do not have the right to bring the animal into businesses. Under Colorado service dog laws, it is illegal for an individual to claim an assistance animal is actually a service animal to get the dog into housing or a business.
Other legal considerations and requirements
While businesses cannot deny you entry or service with your dog, there are circumstances when they can ask you to leave. For example, if your dog is not housebroken, if you lose control of your dog, or if he is disruptive or destructive, businesses may legally ask you to leave.
Businesses may not demand you show them certification or proof that your dog is a service dog, nor may they ask you specific details about your disability. If your disability is not apparent, they may ask you if the dog is a service animal and what tasks he is trained to perform for you.
- American Kennel Club: Service Dogs 101—Everything You Need to Know
- City and County of Denver: Service & Assistance Animals: Guidance for Businesses and Public Entities in Colorado
- Disability Law Colorado: Resource Guide: Requirements for Service & Assistance Animals in Colorado
- Service Dog Certifications: Service Dog Identification
- Guardian Service Dogs: Service Dog Training