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Information for
Service Providers.

Providing peace of mind to all.

At ADAA we are aware of the lack of clarity about what defines an assistance dog in UK law. We offer support and guidance for service providers on what their legal obligations are when it comes to assistance dogs, and what to look for when it comes to accepting assistance dogs onto their premises. 

How We Can Help.

We understand that you want to do the right thing for your business, and keep the rest of your clientele or workforce happy. With this in mind, the ADAA strive to help service providers and business owners both understand the law and give you the guarantee that our dogs have been rigorously assessed for public access.


In the last few years there has been ambiguity surrounding the legal definition of an assistance dog in the UK. This has led to confusion in recent years, which has resulted in:

  • Scrupulous organisations charging vulnerable people thousands of pounds for untrained/unsuitable dogs.

  • Abuse of the premise of an assistance dog, taking untrained/unsuitable dogs into shops under the banner of an assistance dog, when they aren’t genuine.

  • Additional stress to genuine teams accessing everyday services for fear of being challenged by service providers.

  • Confusion for service providers over their rights, and uncertainty if they can refuse teams.

Our goal is to establish uniform standards for assistance dogs, elevating owner-trained teams to a level of excellence that we can all take pride in. By doing so, we aim to bridge the gap within the assistance dog sector between ADUK teams and owner-trained teams, alleviating the challenges faced by service providers and minimising the undue stress experienced by assistance dog teams across the UK.


What is a Service Provider?

A service provider is person or business that offers a service to the public and allows the public to enter their premises or land. 


Industries include hospitality (restaurants, pubs, cafes, hotels), leisure activities, places of work and private rentals. If you offer one of these services or are an employer, there are certain legal obligations that you must abide by to prevent discrimination to those who need the additional help of an assistance dog.


If you are a service provider, we are here to help you understand the jargon to make sure that you can offer a safe space for those with both visible and invisible disabilities.

What is an Assistance Dog?

An assistance dog is a highly trained canine companion that provides essential support to individuals with disabilities. These dogs are specifically trained to perform tasks and assist with daily activities for people facing various challenges, including visual or hearing impairment, mobility limitations, epilepsy, autism, psychiatric disabilities, and more.


They offer practical assistance by performing tasks such as guiding individuals through obstacles, alerting them to specific sounds or impending seizures and providing stability and balance. Beyond their trained tasks, assistance dogs also offer companionship, independence, and a sense of security to their handlers, playing a vital role in enhancing the quality of life for those they serve.

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How to identify an assistance dog.

Identifying an assistance dog typically involves several key indicators:

  1. Vesting, harness, lead slips and mats: Assistance dogs often wear a specialised vest, harness, or jacket that indicates their role. These items may have patches or labels identifying the organisation or purpose of the dog.

  2. Behaviour: Assistance dogs are trained to exhibit calm and focused behaviour while working. They typically remain attentive to their handler, ignore distractions, and perform specific tasks to assist their handler.

  3. Training Identification: Some assistance dogs may carry identification cards or tags indicating their training organisation or certification. However, it's important to note that certification is not legally required in the UK.

  4. Handler Interaction: Assistance dogs will be accompanied by a handler who has a disability. Observing the interaction between the dog and the handler can often provide clues about the dog's role and training.

  5. Public Access Rights: In UK law, specifically the Equality Act of 2010 - assistance dogs have legal rights to accompany their handlers in public places where pets are typically not allowed. If a dog is seen in such a location, it may be reasonable to assume it is an assistance dog.

  6. Documentation: In some cases, handlers may carry documentation, such as a letter from a healthcare provider or trainer, verifying the dog's status as an assistance animal. However, it's important to note that proof of disability is not legally required in the UK.

It's important to remember that not all assistance dogs may display all these indicators, and some dogs may not wear vests or harnesses at all times. Additionally, it is illegal to ask for proof of a person's disability or details about their medical condition when they are accompanied by an assistance dog. Therefore, respect and discretion should always be exercised when interacting with individuals accompanied by assistance dogs.

Our Dog Training Standards

Our independent public access assessment has been written by experts with over 30 years’ experience within the assistance dog and dog training sectors. It is designed to rigorously test the team in a various of everyday scenarios, and emergency scenarios e.g. dog being removed from handler. 

We assess and qualify dogs that are trained to help with the following disabilities:

  • Physical and mobility issues

  • Autism

  • Mental health issues - for example PTSD and generalised anxiety

Please click here to read more about the high standards that we assess for and what this means for you as a service provider:

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