Handler and dog abilities to pass a Public Access Test
The Public Access Test developed by Assistance Dogs International evaluates the dog's obedience and manners and the handler's skills in a variety of situations. Any properly trained Service or Assistance dog and its handler should be able to pass a few ability items steps,which include:
[if !supportLists]A. [endif]The handler's abilities to:
[if !supportLists] 1. [endif]safely load and unload the dog from a vehicle;
[if !supportLists] 2. [endif]enter a public place without losing control of the dog;
[if !supportLists] 3. [endif]to recover the leash if accidentally dropped, and
[if !supportLists] 4. [endif]to cope calmly with an access problem if an employee or customer questions the individual’s right to bring a dog into that establishment.
[if !supportLists]B. [endif]The dog's ability to:
[if !supportLists] 1. [endif]safely cross a parking lot, halt for traffic, and ignore distractions;
[if !supportLists] 2. [endif]heel through narrow aisles;
[if !supportLists] 3. [endif]hold a Sit-Stay when a shopping cart passes by or when a person stops to chat and pets the dog;
[if !supportLists] 4. [endif]hold a Down Stay when a child approaches and briefly pets the dog;
[if !supportLists] 5. [endif]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.]
[if !supportLists] 6. [endif]remain calm if someone else holds the leash while the handler moves 20 ft. away;
[if !supportLists] 7. [endif]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. 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.
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 U S Department of Justice 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.