Service Dog or Emotional Support Animal

July 2020

Service animals, typically dogs, are trained to perform specific tasks for disabled persons.  They may guide someone visually impaired, alert people prone to seizures or remind someone to take medication.  Service animals are exempt from pet policies in condo buildings and elsewhere.  They can fly in the main cabin of a plane.

A service dog is a working animal, not a pet.  The service they provide is directly related to an individual’s disability.  They are almost always leashed or harnessed.

A condo corporation is required to waive pet restrictions and policies for a service animal.

Animals that provide comfort or support are emotional support animals.  They are not trained and don’t qualify for protections afforded service animals.  Emotional support animals have been known to attack people in response to their owners’ stress.  Attacks are usually an attempt by the untrained animal to protect their owner.  They don’t understand that the person seated next to their owner is not a threat.

Communities may want to encourage pet owners to participate in the Canine Good Neighbour Program offered by the Canadian Kennel Club to promote responsible dog ownership.  Dogs are evaluated on their ability to perform basic exercises and their ability to demonstrate good manners in everyday situations.  Dog and owner receive a certificate after being evaluated on twelve steps:

  • Accepting a Friendly Stranger
  • Politely Accepts Petting
  • Appearance and Grooming
  • Out For a Walk
  • Walking Through A Crowd
  • Sit/Down On Command and Stay In Place
  • Come When Called
  • Praise/Interaction
  • Reaction to a Passing Dog
  • Reaction to Distractions
  • Supervised Isolation
  • Walking Through a Door/Gate

For more information on the Canine Good Neighbour Program contact the Canadian Kennel Club .