International Association of
Assistance Dog Partners

IAADP Minimum Training Standards for Public Access

IAADP's overall mission is to foster the assistance dog movement in the USA and other countries. As part of this mission, we seek to promote the responsible use of access rights in the disabled community.

For over 80 years, assistance dogs have worked successfully in public and won the public's acceptance by achieving high behavioral and training standards which set them apart from pets and other animals. Their exemplary conduct led to state legislatures granting access rights to the blind, deaf and mobility impaired. Those early teams paved the way for the Americans With Disabilities Act, which has opened the door to individuals with a wide range of physical and mental impairments being able to have access rights.

In response to many inquiries from disabled citizens who want to train a dog to be their assistance dog, but tell us they do not know how much training or what kinds of training to give the dog, IAADP has developed a set of Minimum Training Standards for Public Access. These are drawn from the Minimum Training Standards for Service Dogs first established a decade ago by Assistance Dogs International (ADI) with consumer input from IAADP. Visit www.assistancedogsinternational.org

If you are a disabled person and want the right to be accompanied by an assistance dog in public, we encourage you to meet or exceed the minimum standards set forth below for training an assistance dog for public access.

Disabled persons who want to join IAADP as a Partner Member [voting member] must have a professionally trained guide, hearing or service dog from a Provider or a dog at least twelve months old whom they have trained to meet or exceed IAADP's Minimum Training Standards.


IAADP Minimum Training Standards for Public Access

1. Amount of Schooling: an assistance dog should be given a minimum of one hundred twenty (120) hours of schooling over a period of Six Months or more.* At least thirty (30) hours should be devoted to outings that will prepare the dog to work obediently and unobtrusively in public places.**

2. Obedience Training: a dog must master the basic obedience skills: "Sit, Stay, Come, Down, Heel" and a dropped leash recall in a store in response to verbal commands and/or hand signals.

3. Manners: a dog must acquire proper social behavior skills. It includes at a minimum:

4. Disability Related Tasks: the dog must be individually trained to perform identifiable tasks on command or cue for the benefit of the disabled human partner. This includes alerting to sounds, medical problems, certain scents like peanuts or situations if training is involved.

For a definition of a "task" and "individually trained,” and “what is not a task” and many examples of tasks performed by different kinds of assistance dogs, Click Here.

5. Prohibited Training: Any training that arouses a dog’s prey drive or fear to elicit a display of aggression for guard or defense purposes is strictly prohibited. Non aggressive barking as a trained behavior is permitted in appropriate situations. (See IAADP’s ban on the enrollment of protection trained, attack trained or aggressive dogs as an assistance dog with our organization. Click Here)

6. A Trainer’s Responsibilities: Trainers function as ambassadors for the assistance dog movement. This includes a disabled owner trainer, a provider’s staff or a volunteer with a puppy or adult dog “in training.” It also includes an assistance dog partner or able bodied facilitator helping a disabled loved one to keep up an assistance dog’s training. At a minimum, you should:

  • Know pertinent canine laws (i.e. leash laws and public access laws)
  • Ensure the dog is healthy, flea free and the rabies vaccination is up to date
  • Take time to make sure your dog is well groomed and free of any foul odor
  • Show respect and consideration to other people and property.
  • Use humane training methods; monitor the dog’s stress level; provide rest breaks.
  • Carry clean up materials. Arrange for prompt clean up if a dog eliminates or gets sick.
  • Be polite and willing to educate the public about assistance dogs and access rights.
* The 120 hours of schooling includes the time invested in homework training sessions between obedience classes or lessons from an experienced dog trainer. ** Eligibility for Certification from a provider who supports IAADP’s Minimum Training Standards for Public Access may require you turn in a weekly training log to document your dog received a minimum of 120 hours of schooling over a period of six months or more. (See Sample Training Log)



How will you know when your dog is ready to graduate from an "in training" status to the status of a full fledged assistance dog with whom you are entitled to have public access rights?

An excellent tool for evaluating a team's readiness to graduate [e.g. finish up formal training] is the Public Access Certification Test (PACT) which can be found on the website of Assistance Dogs International at www.assistancedogsinternational.org The ADI Public Access Certification Test was developed over 15 years ago as a consumer protection measure by the ADI Team Testing Committee, which included input from both providers and IAADP Partner members. Overall, the goal of the test is to discover whether or not a particular team is ready to go places out in public without trainer supervision. The safety of the dog, the handler and the public were the main considerations in developing the specific exercises for testing the team.

This test creates a level playing field, since it does not matter whether it is a guide, hearing or service dog team being tested or who trained the dog. What matters is the team’s performance. Every ADI program is required to administer this test before graduating and credentialing a team.

Disability mitigating tasks or work are not critiqued during the test. However, to establish a dog’s eligibility to take this test to become an assistance dog, ADI programs would ask for a demo in advance of at least three service dog tasks, three hearing dog sound alerts or a series of tasks known as “guide dog work.” To document the dog performs tasks in the home such as seizure response work, alerting to an attack of hypoglycemia late at night or fetching a portable phone or beverage, a program may ask the client to submit a video tape of the task(s).

The Public Access Test evaluates the dog's obedience and manners and the handler's skills in a variety of situations which include:

A. The handler's abilities to: ( 1 ) safely load and unload the dog from a vehicle; ( 2 ) enter a public place without losing control of the dog; ( 3 ) to recover the leash if accidently dropped, and ( 4 ) to cope calmly with an access problem if an employee or customer questions the individual’s right to bring a dog into that establishment.

B. The dog's ability to: ( 1 ) safely cross a parking lot, halt for traffic, and ignore distractions; ( 2 ) heel through narrow aisles; ( 3 ) hold a Sit-Stay when a shopping cart passes by or when a person stops to chat and pets the dog; (4 ) hold a Down Stay when a child approaches and briefly pets the dog; ( 5 ) hold a Sit Stay when someone drops food on the floor; hold a Down Stay when someone sets a plate of food on the floor within 18" of the dog, then removes it a minute later. [the handler may say “Leave It” to help the dog resist the temptation.] ( 6 ) remain calm if someone else holds the leash while the handler moves 20 ft. away; ( 7 ) remain calm while another dog passes within 6 ft. of the team during the test. This can occur in a parking lot or store. Alternatively, you could arrange for a neighbor with a pet dog to stroll past your residence while you load your dog into a vehicle at the beginning of the test.

*** It is highly recommended the test be video taped to document the team passed it.

IAADP agrees with ADI's ethical position that the amount of training given to an assistance dog should NEVER fall below the minimum level needed to pass this Public Access Test.

NOTE: Passing the Public Access Test does not mean the organization, ADI, officially "certifies" your dog, since ADI does not certify any dogs and neither does IAADP. It is up to the program or trainer giving the test to provide the desired credentialing. Most furnish a laminated photo ID Card signed and dated by the provider, certifying this dog [insert name] has been trained for the disabled client [insert name] as a Service Dog for the Disabled. [or as a guide or hearing dog] On the rear side, there is a helpful statement about the state or federal law granting access rights to disabled handlers and at the top, a reference to the state law, citing its numbers, and/ or the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA).

CERTIFICATION is not required in the USA. Many states lack programs willing to certify dogs that did not go through that program’s training course. The DOJ decided to foster “an honor system,” by making the tasks the dog is trained to perform on command or cue to assist a disabled person, rather than certification ID from specific programs, the primary way to differentiate between a service animal and a pet. It opened the door for people to train their own assistance dog, usually with the help of an experienced trainer, if a program dog is unavailable.

Testers: If you are not enrolled in a program or taking lessons from a trainer willing to administer the Public Access Test and provide ID on successful completion of the test, it is worthwhile to find a trainer who would administer The Public Access Test. You could recruit a local trainer certified through The National Association of Obedience Dog Instructors ( www.nadoi.org) or the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers. ( www.ccpdt.org ) ,or an obedience class instructor, or a Canine Good Citizen test evaluator. Trainers usually will charge a fee for their time. You might ask a colleague, in a pinch, to video tape the test and score it, for scoring is self explanatory. Have the tester sign and date it, then keep the test with your training logs in case of an access dispute someday.

AKC Canine Good Citizen (CGC) Test: Another way to document you have made an effort to train your dog to be safe around other dogs and people while working out in public is to pass what is known as the “CGC” test. Many obedience training centers offer the test to handlers who take their six week “Canine Good Citizen” class after a six week Beginner obedience class. Others may offer it once or twice a year to members of the public who want to earn that credentialing. IAADP urges owner trainers to at least train an assistance dog to the point where he or she can pass it with flying colors. Those who pass receive an impressive looking Certificate signed by the AKC evaluator. The Therapy Dogs International (TDI) Test, sometimes offered the same day, is basically the same test, but an assistant will typically push a wheelchair around and/or an IV pole while the dog goes through the different exercises to ensure the dog is able to work calmly in a hospital or nursing home setting.

If you have any questions about the Minimum Training Standards for Public Access set forth by IAADP or anything else in this section, please feel free to contact Joan Froling at joan@iaadp.org


What is a Task?

A task is a certain desired behavior or set of behaviors the dog is trained to habitually perform in response to a command or a particular situation such as the onset of a seizure, which cues the dog to perform a task. The task must be related to your disabling condition, helping you in some way.

What is meant by “individually trained”?

A dog has been “individually trained” to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of a disabled individual when the dog is deliberately taught to exhibit the desired behavior or sequence of behaviors by rewarding the dog for the right response(s) and communicating, if only through silence, when the dog has made the wrong response in a particular situation. A task is learned when the dog reliably exhibits the desired behavior whenever needed to assist his/her partner on command or cue. An example of work that is individually trained would be that performed by a guide dog, who takes directional commands, goes around obstacles in the team’s path, halts to indicate a curb or some other change in elevation and refuses the “Forward” command in specific situations that would result in injury, such as an automobile entering the team’s path. Examples of individually trained tasks include retrieving a phone, providing deep pressure therapy during a panic attack or providing balance support on a staircase to prevent a fall.

What is NOT an individually trained task?

Spontaneous behavior a dog occasionally exhibits such as licking someone's face or barking does not qualify as a "trained task" under ADA even if it accidentally or coincidentally has a beneficial result. While everyone enjoys the emotional, social and safety benefits that a dog's presence can provide, those benefits do not constitute trained tasks that would transform a disabled person's pet into a legitimate Service Dog under ADA.

Why are individually trained Tasks so important?

Trained tasks that mitigate the effects of a disabling condition are the legal basis for granting access rights to disabled handlers under the Americans With Disabilities Act. An assistance dog with this special training is viewed as assistive technology / medical equipment, not as a pet. Businesses have the right to ask a disabled person, "What Tasks does your service animal perform?" This question can be asked if there is any doubt about the dog’s legal status and whether to impose their restrictive pet policies. An acceptable answer might be, "my service dog is trained to get help for me in a medical crisis by ____________." (Fill in the blank as to the specific task) You do not have to reveal your disability in formulating your reply.

Businesses also have the right to exclude any animal, including a service animal, who threatens the health or safety of other people through aggressive or unruly behavior. An assistance dog can also be evicted for disruptive behavior that interferes with a business providing goods or services. The DOJ used the example of a dog barking in a movie theater.

Task examples:
Traditional Tasks performed by Guide, Hearing and Service Dogs.
Click Here.
Task examples: Tasks for Service Dogs for Persons with a Psychiatric Disability. Click Here

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IAADP Policy Prohibiting the Enrollment of Protection Trained or Aggressive dogs

Any dog who is protection trained, attack trained or one who exhibits aggressive behavior in violation of our Minimum Training Standards for Public Access is NOT eligible for enrollment as an Assistance Dog in IAADP, or renewal, no matter what disability related tasks or alerts the dog is said to perform. If an IAADP Partner member's dog later displays aggressive behavior and cannot be rehabilitated within a reasonable time period, ethically, that dog should be retired as unfit for duty outside the home, as the dog does not qualify as an assistance dog under our Minimum Training Standards for Public Access. Non aggressive barking as a trained behavior will be acceptable in appropriate situations.

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SAMPLE TRAINING LOG & instructions below, how to fill in a Log


Owner Trainer’s Name:

Dog’s Name:




Week of: ____________________Hours( on Site) + ( Outings)






Service Dog Tasks:



How to Fill In Your TRAINING LOG

Owner Trainer’s Name:

Dog’s Name:

Source: Rescue? Breeder?

Breed or Mix:



Week of: May 2 - 8, 2010 - 8 hrs Total Hours(3.5 hrs on Site) + (4.5 hrs Outings)

Health: Make a note if you gave Heartworm Preventative this week and /or used monthly flea control like Advantage or changed Flea & Tick collar. Make other notes, such as “treated ear infection.” Anal gland scooting....had vet empty? Did you change diet? Progress on new diet or digestive upsets? Treated hot spot? Trimmed nails? Blowing coat? Improved on car sickness?

Problems: Are there any particular problems distressing you? Has there been improvement on any of the problems mentioned in previous logs? (e.g. Barking at other dogs, becoming over excited in the presence of other animals or fearful of getting into the back seat of the car, or refuses to potty outside of his backyard or won’t use other footing except grass, etc.)

Outings: 1 Hour Mon. Canine Good Citizen (CGC) class, Trainers ( your name, instructor’s name )
45 min. Tues. Bank - inside w/permission, parking lot work too; Trainer - (yr. name)
1 hr. 15 min. Thurs. Petsmart; Trainers - ( your name, assistant’s name)
1 ½ hr. Saturday Petsmart, more work on dog distraction issue, Trainer - ( your name)

What novel sights, sounds, smells, taste or touch, footing, was the dog exposed to in an urban, suburban or rural environment in different kinds of weather? (e.g. a band in a park, a parade, a mounted policeman, Little League game, strangers in ethnic garb, potty in street near curb?) Did the dog improve when exposed to something that caused signs of stress earlier, such as an elevator ride, dog barking at him from behind a fence, working near an escalator, climbing a staircase or when asked to potty on different types of ground? What needs more work? (e.g. walking near heavy traffic, motorcycle revving up, garbage truck, approaching a mirror, screaming kids on schoolyard playground, holding a Sit Stay during a thunderstorm,etc.)

Where did you practice basic commands? (e.g. house, garage, neighborhood, outside shopping center). Any progress? What needs improvement? (e.g. out of sight Stays or Heel w/halt instead of Sit for balance or wheelchair work.) Practice Public Access Test exercises....holding Sit or Down when adult or child pets the dog or someone drops food on the floor or puts plate down by dog or passes with a shopping cart. Practice Stay or Come with a dropped leash indoors, outdoors in safe area. Have assistant tease dog at a distance with food, smooching, say “Hi, puppy, puppy” or bounce a ball while you keep him focused on you in a Sit or Down Stay. Advanced - practice Stay in public rest room, under table in restaurant, in stores in sight, you out of sight around a corner. Off leash heeling, Downs, recall indoors, outdoors in safe fenced area.

Service Dog Tasks:
What did you introduce this week? What progress has dog made on various tasks, like fetch the phone? Beginner, intermediate or advanced stage? Any setback? Where did you practice?

Which manners were a priority this week? What improved? What needs more work? For example: Say please [with Sit Stay] for Supper, for Exiting house....expanded from 30 seconds to one minute! Enter, exit, riding in a car - improved. Lie quietly on side for nail grinder, grooming - needs work! Watchdog suppression - needs work! Jumping on visitors - needs work. Honor system - respecting “Leave It” edict re: bowl of treats on end table, 24/7....3rd week, also leaves bowl of treats on kitchen counter alone! Paw on knee - rarely tries this dominance behavior anymore. Licking self in public - only needed one correction this week, an “uh uh” with my disapproving glare at him. Doesn’t do it at church anymore or in grocery store. No sniffing other dogs while “on duty” at obedience class or in neighborhood - needs more work.

Anything unusual, worrisome, cute, exceptional? Did you read a book, see a video that helped with training? Reason for not practicing this week (e.g. sick, injured, family funeral, or dog neutered and must be kept very quiet for two weeks? etc. ) Overall progress....fair? Good?

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