service dog consulting for businesses

Service Dog Consulting for Your Business

Michele Forto and her team at Alaska Dog Works have been training service dogs for more than 15 years. Here in Alaska there are a couple other companies that train service dogs but they do not have the experience of Michele. It is true that you can train your own service dog. But to do it right, leave it up to the pros.

Along with training service dogs for her clients in Alaska and around the country, Michele has witnessed firsthand the need for an evolving training program to provide businesses that offer a product or service to the general public. There is so much confusion on how to properly interact with a service dog team. What to say or what to do.

As you may know, there seems to be an infusion of personal pets falsely being portrayed as service dogs. The businesses recognize this too. You may have seen the signs posted at the entrance of the grocery store or read in the news about the airlines changing their policies.

We offer the “technical” information and leave the legal advice to those who are qualified to give it. 


Along with the added knowledge of how the presence of service dogs can impact your business, gaining a potential customer who has money to spend is also a plus. Did you know that there is $175 billion in discretionary spending from those that are disabled? In addition, you don’t want to risk costly litigation and negative publicity (social media, etc.) by being uninformed.

Let us be a part of your new employee orientation or in-service education programs

Michele is very hands-on. In developing the concept there is definitely an advantage to having her train your staff because of the multitude of questions that will arise, plus with her informative “demo” on how to properly interact with a service dog team, helps your staff see and do things they might not be able to do by watching a webinar or PowerPoint presentation.

Benefits to you from our training program

  • Clarify what tasks/work service dogs are trained to do
  • The different types of working dogs in public settings
  • Understand how to interact with a service dog handler and their dog
  • Explore your role in properly welcoming service dogs into your business
  • Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) discussion
  • Etiquette for the customer/guest/patient/client
  • Demonstration of how to properly interact with a service dog team

From one-on-one intensive VIP training to virtual webinars, there is a training package suitable for every type of business and employee availability.

Alaska state and federal laws are clear that service animals are allowed in places of public accommodation. A service animal must be allowed to accompany the handler to any place where members of the public, customers, or clients are allowed.

Michele Forto and her team at Alaska Dog Works have been in the industry for a long time. They have seen changes in the industry and the challenges, over the years with the Americans with Disabilities Act to public access, to traveling with service dogs. We know you have questions and concerns for your business and your clients/patients/guests about service dog access.

Please note, we are service dog trainers and business owners. Not attorneys. We are providers of technical information regarding service dogs as they relate to federal and state laws. We do not give legal advice. It is always recommended you seek legal counsel for any specific issues that may arise.

Training Opportunities 

VIP Training Session

  • Provide one-on-one training in person or in a virtual webinar
  • Informational manual with applicable documents as a back up for situations you may encounter with a service dog issue
  • All technical aspects of service dogs discussed to give you the most up-to-date information on the tasks/work performed by service dogs
  • Click here to get more information and to sign up for your free consultation

On-site Training 

  • Personalized training held at your site and includes service dog education information as well as bonus of etiquette and a demo on how to assist guest/clients with service dogs
  • Service dog and handler will be invited to participate (depending on area and access of the dog/handler on the day of training)
  • Information manual (additional charge) for your staff/employees as a reference guide
  • Click here to get more information and sign up for your free consultation

Commonly Asked Questions About Service Dogs in Places of Business

Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), privately owned businesses that serve the public, such as restaurants, hotels, retail stores, taxicabs, theaters, concert halls, and sports facilities, are prohibited from discriminating against individuals with disabilities. The ADA requires these businesses to allow people with disabilities to bring their service animals onto business premises in whatever areas customers are generally allowed.

The ADA defines a service animal as any guide dog, signal dog, or other animal individually trained to provide assistance to an individual with a disability. If they meet this definition, animals are considered service animals under the ADA regardless of whether they have been licensed or certified by a state or local government.

Service animals perform some of the functions and tasks that the individual with a disability cannot perform for him or herself. Guide dogs are one type of service animal, used by some individuals who are blind. This is the type of service animal with which most people are familiar. But there are service animals that assist persons with other kinds of disabilities in their day-to-day activities. Some examples include:

_ Alerting persons with hearing impairments to sounds.

_ Pulling wheelchairs or carrying and picking up things for persons with mobility impairments.

_ Assisting persons with mobility impairments with balance.

A service animal is not a pet.

Some, but not all, service animals wear special collars and harnesses. Some, but not all, are licensed or certified and have identification papers. If you are not certain that an animal is a service animal, you may ask the person who has the animal if it is a service animal required because of a disability. However, an individual who is going to a restaurant or theater is not likely to be carrying documentation of his or her medical condition or disability. Therefore, such documentation generally may not be required as a condition for providing service to an individual accompanied by a service animal. Although a number of states have programs to certify service animals, you may not insist on proof of state certification before permitting the service animal to accompany the person with a disability.

The service animal must be permitted to accompany the individual with a disability to all areas of the facility where customers are normally allowed to go. An individual with a service animal may not be segregated from other customers.

Yes. A service animal is not a pet. The ADA requires you to modify your “no pets” policy to allow the use of a service animal by a person with a disability. This does not mean you must abandon your “no pets” policy altogether but simply that you must make an exception to your general rule for service animals.

Yes, if you refuse to admit any other type of service animal on the basis of local health department regulations or other state or local laws. The ADA provides greater protection for individuals with disabilities and so it takes priority over the local or state laws or regulations.

No. Neither a deposit nor a surcharge may be imposed on an individual with a disability as a condition to allowing a service animal to accompany the individual with a disability, even if deposits are routinely required for pets. However, a public accommodation may charge its customers with disabilities if a service animal causes damage so long as it is the regular practice of the entity to charge non-disabled customers for the same types of damages. For example, a hotel can charge a guest with a disability for the cost of repairing or cleaning furniture damaged by a service animal if it is the hotel’s policy to charge when non-disabled guests cause such damage.

Yes. Taxicab companies may not refuse to provide services to individuals with disabilities. Private taxicab companies are also prohibited from charging higher fares or fees for transporting individuals with disabilities and their service animals than they charge to other persons for the same or equivalent service.

No. The care or supervision of a service animal is solely the responsibility of his or her owner. You are not required to provide care or food or a special location for the animal.

You may exclude any animal, including a service animal, from your facility when that animal’s behavior poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others. For example, any service animal that displays vicious behavior towards other guests or customers may be excluded. You may not make assumptions, however, about how a particular animal is likely to behave based on your past experience with other animals. Each situation must be considered individually.

Although a public accommodation may exclude any service animal that is out of control, it should give the individual with a disability who uses the service animal the option of continuing to enjoy its goods and services without having the service animal on the premises

There may be a few circumstances when a public accommodation is not required to accommodate a service animal–that is, when doing so would result in a fundamental alteration to the nature of the business. Generally, this is not likely to occur in restaurants, hotels, retail stores, theaters, concert halls, and sports facilities. But when it does, for example, when a dog barks during a movie, the animal can be excluded.


We offer a FREE Discovery Call.

Click on the graphic to learn more