Service Dogs in Restaurants

This page has everything you need to know about service dogs in restaurants.

service dogs in reastaurants

Are service dogs allowed in restaurants? What should you know about service dogs and accomodating someone with a disability in a reastaurant? 

service dogs in restaurants

Around 500,000 service dogs are helping people in the United States.

Service animals have been used to help people for over one hundred years. Since the First World War, dogs have been trained to serve people who need them. And, you have to admit, they’re doing a great job!

If you’re a restaurant owner or a service dog owner/handler, you may be confused by the rules and expectations of service dogs in public places.

Do you want to know more about service dogs in restaurants? Check out the blog post below.

emotional support dogs in restaurants
What Exactly Is a Service Dog?
It is important to remember that not all service animals are dogs. Did you know, horses are also important service animals not to be forgotten.

However, dogs are the most common service animal which may easily enter restaurants.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, a service animal is “a dog that has been individually trained to assist an individual with a disability.”

A service dog can be any breed. However, the most common breeds include German Shepherds, Labrador Retrievers, and Golden Retrievers.
What Is the Federal Government Law?
As a service dog owner/handler or restaurant owner, you need to know the Federal government laws.

The “Americans with Disabilities Act” (ADA) makes a clear distinction between pets and service animals, such as dogs. But, under Federal government laws, service dogs can be any breed of dog.

Many service dogs help the visually impaired to navigate through their day. And yet, this isn’t the only function service dogs can serve.

For example, some dogs help people with hearing impairments by retrieving medications during emergencies. Others service dogs are trained to support people living with PTSD during an anxiety attack.
>What Are the State Laws and Rules?
The Federal government laws under the ADA apply in every state. However, there are also laws at the state level, which affect service dogs in restaurants.

For example, in Texas, service animals need to be marked and trained clearly by the animal owner/handler. If this isn’t followed the state government can impose a strict penalty on the service dog owner/handler.

While in many states, only service dogs which help with physical disabilities are permitted in restaurants. Therefore, dogs which help with mental or emotional needs are not allowed.

One exception to the rule is the state of Maine. The state says a service animal is defined as a “dog that is individually trained to do work or tasks to benefit someone with a disability, including intellectual, mental, psychiatric, sensory, or physical disability.”
Are Emotional Support Dogs the Same as Service Dogs?
There has been a growing understanding of how dogs can help with mental and emotional problems in humans.

From anxiety to depression, dogs have been shown to reduce the symptoms of mental health conditions and disorders.

Many emotional support dogs are trained to help the owner/handler to feel comfortable and calm. For example, by recognizing the signs of a panic attack or post-traumatic stress before it emerges.

However, this is usually distinguished from a service dog. Emotional support animals are usually not trained to perform the same tasks as service dogs.

A few states, such as California, have introduced legislation which recognizes the important role of emotional support dogs. However, this only covers workplaces and homes, not public places such as restaurants.
Who Is Responsible for the Service Dog in the Resturant?
It is important to remember that the care and liability for the service animal is entirely the responsibility of the owner/handler.

The restaurant owner or staff do not have any obligation for the case of the service animal. Therefore, if the service animal barks and growls at customers or staff, you can request the dog be removed.

However, this would be highly unusual since service dogs are trained to remain calm among crowds and perform their tasks without being distracted.
Are Questions Allowed?
Many restaurant owners are unclear about whether they’re permitted to ask questions to the handler/owner about the service dog.

In many cases, the service dog will be clearly marked. However, it is acceptable to ask whether the service dog is essential or not.

It is also permitted to ask about the function of the service dog. Such as, regarding what tasks the dog performs for the handler.

However, you have to take their word for it. This means the restaurant cannot determine whether the service dog is necessary or not themselves. Nor does the service dog handler need to produce proof of disability.
Can the Service Dog Go Anywhere the Handler Can?
The service dog should be allowed to go anywhere in the restaurant with customer access. Therefore, if customers aren’t permitted to enter the kitchen, the service dog won’t have access to it either.
Is It Permitted to Pet the Service Dog?
Restaurant staff and customers shouldn’t pet or engage the service dog without first asking the owner. This includes pulling faces from across the room, which could distract the dog from its vital work.

However, it is acceptable to pet the dog if you first ask the handler/owner who then gives permission.
Is the Restaurant Obliged to Feed or Water the Service Dog?
No, restaurants are not obligated to feed or water the service dog. This is exclusively the responsibility of the handler/owner.

However, many restaurants are happy to provide a bowl of water for the dog. But, it’s important staff ask the handler/owner before providing the water.

Service Dogs in Restaurants

Service dog owners/handlers and restaurant owners and staff need to know the laws and expectations for service dogs in restaurants.

With the information in this blog post, you can ensure that everything is clearly understood by the restaurant and customer.

Do you want to learn more about service dog training or need an emotional support dog for sale? Check out our help guide to service animales for more information here.