Smaller text size Default text size Larger text size
skip navigation
NH State Seal
Governor's Commission on Disability

Service/Assistance Animals

What is a Service Animal?

"Service animal means any dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability. Other species of animals, whether wild or domestic, trained or untrained, are not service animals for the purpose of this definition. The work or tasks performed by a service animal must be directly related to the handler's disability. Examples of work or tasks performed include, but are not limited to, assisting individuals who are blind or have low vision with navigation and other tasks, alerting individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing to the presence of people or sounds, providing non-violent protection or rescue work, pulling a wheelchair, assisting an individual during a seizure, alerting an individual to the presence of allergens, retrieving items such as medicine or the telephone, providing physical support and assistance with balance and stability to individuals with mobility disabilities, and helping persons with psychiatric and neurological disabilities by preventing or interrupting impulsive or destructive behaviors. The crime deterrent effects of an animal's presence and the provision of emotional support, well-being, comfort, or companionship do not constitute work or tasks for the purpose of this definition." (Service animal as defined by the ADA, Title III, subpart A 36.104 definitions, July 2010)

All service dogs are granted access by Federal and state laws.

Service Dog Categories

Service dog which assists an individual who has a mobility impairment with tasks including, but not limited to, providing balance and stability, retrieving items and pulling wheelchairs.

Dog Guide which assists an individual who is blind or visually impaired with tasks such as, but not limited to, aiding in navigation and alerting the individual to dangers such as moving cars.

Hearing Dog which assists an individual who is deaf or hearing impaired by alerting the individual to the presence of sounds or people.

Alert/Response Dog which alerts an individual to a seizure or other medical condition.

Psychiatric Service Dog which aids an individual with a cognitive, psychiatric or neurological disability.

Therapy dogs, emotional support dogs and companion dogs are NOT service dogs under the ADA.

What Is the Difference Between a Service Dog and Therapy, Emotional Support or Companion Dog?

A service dog must be individually trained to perform work or tasks directly related to the handler's disability.

A therapy and emotional support dog merely provides comfort to an individual in some fashion. Therapy dogs are often the pets of the therapist or psychiatric personnel of the particular institution or hospital where they bring comfort. Therapy and emotional support dogs are allowed in housing under the Fair Housing Act (FHA), but are not permitted in public places as are service dogs.

Companion dog is just another name for a pet dog.

Is It a Service Animal? ... or What questions can be asked?

A service dog is not required to wear something identifying it as such. However, most service dogs wear a vest/cape or harness identifying it as a service dog or dog guide. Service dogs may be of any size. Certification cards are not required. A vest or other identifying clothing is not required.

Under the ADA, one may ask if the dog is a service dog and may ask what tasks the dog performs for the handler.

One may ask if the handler has a disability, but may NOT ask what that disability is.

Service Animal Behavior(standards as set forth by ADI)

Under the ADA, a service dog may be removed from a public place for disruptive behavior.

A service dog must be under the control of the handler at all times.

A service dog must be on a leash at all times (some allowances are made under certain circumstances).

A service dog must not show aggression towards people or other animals.

A service dog does not bark, growl or whine. (However, a service dog may be trained to bark in the case of an emergency effecting the handler)

A service dog does not solicit attention, food or other items from the general public, nor annoy any member of the general public.

A service dog's work does not disrupt the normal course of business.

Public Appropriateness:

The dog is clean, well groomed, does not have an offensive odor and does not urinate or defecate in inappropriate locations.

Service Dog Etiquette

DON'T pet, talk to, make eye contact or distract the dog in any way.

DO allow the dog to work without distraction.

DON'T speak to the dog when greeting a service dog team, speak only to the handler.

DO ask for permission to pet the dog. Under certain circumstances, the handler may permit it.

DON'T be insulted if your request to pet the dog is denied.

DO realize that allowing the dog to greet you may distract the dog from it's work.

Because these are friendly dogs, they enjoy attention, however, such distraction may interrupt the dog's work and could cause injury to the dog's handler. Keep this in mind when tempted to pet or speak to a service dog

Service Dog Training

ADI (Assistant Dog International) requirements include, but are not limited to, the following:

The dog be specifically trained to perform 3 or more tasks to mitigate aspects of the client's disability.

Dog demonstrates basic obedience skills by responding to voice and/or hand signals for sitting, staying in place, lying down, walking in a controlled position near the handler and coming to the handler when called.

Dog works calmly and quietly on harness, leash or other tether.

Dog is able to perform its tasks in public.

Dog must be able to lie quietly beside the handler without blocking aisles, doorways when possible.


Federal laws

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) revised in July 2010

Federal Air Carrier Access Act of 1986. The act requires air carriers to permit service animals to accompany persons with disabilities on flights (14 CFR 382.55 (a))

Fair Housing Act of 1988 (FHA)

New Hampshire Laws

Service animals defined. (RSA 167-D:1) "Service Animals and search and rescue dogs". (effective date Jan.1, 2012)

Unlawful to disguise a pet dog as a service dog (RSA 466:8 II) "It is unlawful to fit an animal with a collar, leash or harness of the type which represents that the animal is a service animal, or service animal tag issued under RSA 466:8 (effective date Aug. 12, 2012)

Licensing of service dogs (RSA 466:8) This provides for free registration for the working life of a service dog (effective date Aug. 12, 2012).

No companion/pet dogs in restaurants (RSA 466:8) A restaurant owner may allow his or her properly disciplined companion/pet dog inside his or her place of business. Such dog shall be removed from any portion of the premises where members of the public are present in the event a service animal is present. (effective date Jan. 1, 2012)


NEADS Dogs for Deaf and Disabled Americans

Paws With a Cause

Canine Assistants

Paws for Independence

Assistance Canine Training Services (in Moultonboro)

Canine Companions for Independence

Dog Guide Users NH (This site contains dog guide training schools)

IAADP (International Association of Assistance Dog Partners)

ADI (Assistance Dogs International)


NH Service Dog Awareness Day June 16

International Assistance Dog Week Second week in August


Microsoft Word Symbol Microsoft Word format. You can download a free viewer from Microsoft.

PDF symbolAdobe Acrobat Reader format. You can download a free reader from Adobe.

Governor's Commission on Disability  |  121 South Fruit Street, Suite 101, Concord, NH 03301
Toll-Free NH: 800-852-3405  |  603-271-2773  |   Fax: 603-271-2837  |

copyright 2009. State of New Hampshire