Busting Service Dog Myths

Science At Home People and Place

What do you think of when you hear the words “service animal”?

Watch this video to learn more about the specially-trained guide dogs that assist handlers with visual impairments.

Visual Descriptions

This video includes visual descriptions.

What did you notice about the narration?
For viewers that are visually impaired, these descriptions provide information about the visual elements occurring on screen.

Listen Closely

Go back and listen to the video again.

Do you think visually impaired viewers would have the same viewing experience without visual descriptions?

Learn More

Interested in learning more about audio descriptions? Check out this podcast to learn how narrators and writers craft audio descriptions.

Let’s Think…

What is one new thing you learned about service dogs?

What kinds of jobs do service dogs do?

What do service dogs and pet dogs have in common?

How are service dogs and pet dogs different from each other?

Guide Dogs for the Blind

Guide Dogs for the Blind harnesses the power of partnerships—connecting people, dogs, and communities—to transform the lives of individuals with visual impairments.

Myths – busted!

Do service animals work all day?

Some people think that service animals work all day every day, but this is not true! Service dogs spend much of their day resting while ther person is at work, school, or home. They also spend time playing, snacking, and snoozing on their cozy beds. Sounds like plenty of time for a cat – I mean – dog nap!

Who makes decisions, the dog or the human?

The human!

Dogs go through a lot of training to earn their titles as service animals. Much of that training is teaching the dog to follow directions provided by their person.

But the dogs do make some choices! If their person tells them to walk forward into a street full of cars, a service dog may choose to disobey. This is called “intelligent disobedience” – even though they have been given a command, the dog makes the decision to disobey and keep their person safe. Smart dogs!

Are service animals the same as emotional support animals or pets?

No! And it is important to know some key differences between service animals and other pets.

Service Dog

Service animals, like Shelby in our video, help people who have a disability. Service animal jobs could include opening doors for someone in a wheelchair or alerting someone before having a seizure. Service animals are protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and can accompany their handler anywhere.

Fun fact: A service animal must be either a dog or a horse!

Emotional Support Animal / Pet

Emotional support animals can help anyone with things like loneliness or anxiety. They do not need to be trained to perform a job that assists someone with a disability, and they can be any kind of animal. Emotional support animals are not protected by the ADA and may be denied entry to public spaces or certain living situations.

More Ideas

What makes a service dog?

Learn more about the difference between service animals and emotional support animals in this guide.

Guide Dogs for the Blind

Take a virtual tour of Guide Dogs for the Blind’s California and Oregon campuses.

Explore All!

Check out OMSI’s Science at Home videos and experiments.

Thanks to Our Sponsors

This project is made possible by a grant from the Marie Lamfrom Charitable Foundation.