Trained service dogs perform specific tasks for humans. They undergo very specialized training to teach them how to perform behaviors required to help disabled people in various ways. Service dogs help their humans cope with both the physical and mental struggles of life. They provide balance and support while walking, fetching dropped objects or opening doors. There are even service dogs that alert their owners to oncoming seizures or dropping blood glucose levels. These tasks are taught in addition to basic behaviors such as not barking, not jumping on people and how to stay focused on their owner rather than being distracted by their surroundings.
The Americans with Disabilities Act makes certain allowances for service animals permitting them to accompany their owners into most public places such as restaurants, stores, even on airplanes. Unfortunately, there is a rise in people who are passing off their pet dogs as service animals. It has become relatively easy to purchase a service dog vest and ID tag online. Even getting your dog certified as an emotional support animal is getting easier.
The ADA has specific guidelines for what qualifies as a service animal. Basically, a service animal is trained to perform a specific action or task directly related to a person’s disability. Under this definition, emotional support animals, therapy animals and comfort or companion animals are not ADA recognized service animals. They provide comfort through their presence. While this is important, it does not meet the ADA definition of a service animal. They do not perform a specific action, task or job for their owner.
The ADA does make a distinction between an emotional support animal and a psychiatric service animal. A psychiatric service animal has received special training to sense an impending anxiety attack and take specific action to avoid or lesson its impact.
A true service dog has received extensive training. The fake service dogs that are cropping up in increasing numbers often have not mastered basic obedience.
Source Wide Open Pets