How to Certify My Dog As a Service Dog in Colorado

The use of service dogs began in post-World War I Germany as a way to help blind combat veterans return to a normal existence. Service dogs are used in a number of countries, including the United States. Certifying your dog as a service dog in Colorado takes a bit of time and effort, but the reward of helping a disabled person live a full life is well worth the effort.

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German Shepherds are often used as service dogs.

Select a dog that is friendly and calm. Service dogs are often required to enter noisy, crowded facilities that will place them in close contact with strange people. Dogs that are flighty or afraid of new people will not work well as service dogs.

Call your veterinarian to set up an appointment to examine your dog. Service dogs must be in good health and be up to date on all vaccinations, so regular checkups by your vet are a necessity. Parasites in Colorado, such as fleas and ticks, can carry diseases like bubonic plague, so make sure your pet is routinely treated for pests. Inform your vet that your dog in the process of becoming a service dog, and he will provide you with your dog’s complete medical history.

Place a flat buckle collar on your dog and leash, as well as a service vest while he is working. Colorado law requires that all service dogs be fitted with a vest to indicate their status as service animals. A collar and leash are necessary to keep the dog under control, and the vest indicates to the public that your dog is a working service animal and not just a family pet.

Train your dog in basic commands such as sit, lie down, stay and heel. A service dog must be well-manned to enter businesses and public facilities, so obedience is a must. Make sure to reward your dog with a treat when he responds properly to your commands.

Take your dog to a variety of public places such as parks, shopping centers and festivals to expose him to crowds and loud noises. Service dogs are often required to accompany their owners into facilities that could be very frightening if they are not properly socialized. If your dog becomes nervous or frightened, talk to him and soothe him until he accepts new situations without a fuss.

Contact a therapy dog testing center to schedule your dog for a public acceptance test. There is no governing body in Colorado to issue certification for service dogs, but passing an acceptance test proves that your dog is well-trained and will remain calm in public settings. The training center will issue you a completion certificate that you can carry with you to show your dog has been evaluated by an experienced dog tester and is safe to be in public.

Speak with a representative of The Legal Center for People With Disabilities. This is Colorado’s advocacy and regulatory center for people with disabilities and service dogs. They can inform you of what paperwork to carry with you in case of any dispute over your service animal and can answer any questions you have to keep you in compliance with Colorado state laws.