A service dog vest is usually brightly colored, it may feature patches, and emblems and could have a reflective surface of some kind. As the name suggests, you have probably seen dogs wearing a vest and a person often accompanying them with impaired vision. These dogs are guide service dogs, but there are quite a few other types like psychiatric service dogs, diabetic alert service dogs, the medical response service dogs.
If you see a dog wearing a vest it is very likely that the dog is working and has been trained to provide a vital service to its user/handler. News reports often show working dogs like police dogs, border patrol dogs, and rescue dogs employed by mountain rescue teams. It is important to note that a service dog vest is like a uniform and its purpose is to communicate the role and capabilities of the animal to others.
The laws in the US, the UK, and Canada do not require service dog owners and handlers to put a vest on their animal while traveling, to visit public spaces, or going on a walk in the neighborhood (double-check your local regulations). So the answer to the question above appears to be simple – No. I believe we should ask another important question:
What Does a Service Dog Vest Do for Me?
As mentioned briefly above, a dog vest is usually used as a way to communicate information to others in your surrounding. A police dog vest or a border patrol dog vest should help people understand that the animal is working an important job and should not be approached as any regular pet. This way of thought should be applied to service dog vests as well. While your dog is not required to carry one, by law at least, you should think about what the service dog vest can help you to communicate to others.
The service dog vest will be invaluable in informing others that your paw partner is trained, disciplined, and performs a vital service for its handler/user. As such, the dog must not be petted without consent and must not be harassed or offered food.
If you are relying on the care and support of a service dog and you want to have a relaxed, focused, and unimpeded working dog with you on public transport, the local store, a sports event, or on an aircraft — you might want to buy a service dog vest. The vest is recommended to have a reflective surface so that your paw partner is easily visible to car drivers when you are out in the evening. You will want the vest to have the text “service dog” in bold and big letters on the sides of the dog’s body for easy identification. Many owners like to have stickers, logos, and emblems of sports teams, a dog training school, or a brand they like.
Service Dog Vest Fitting
These should not obstruct the text “service dog” and should not interfere with the reflective surface. The vest must be compatible with your harness in case you have mobility issues. The vest can cover the dog beginning from its neck down to its waist and it should be loose enough so your dog can breathe comfortably. Most vests require you only to measure the girth of your dog’s chest at the shoulders, but some may require you to measure the lower side of the neck to find the correct size. Also, you may need to measure the length of the back from the waist.
Recommended Materials and Features For a Service Dog Vest
When you are shopping for a service dog vest you will need to consider the materials used since your dog will be wearing the vest for a big part of the day. We recommend choosing a vest made of a mesh lining or an alternative breathable fabric. The vest should have an easily adjustable harness and a welded D-ring on the back for a leash to clip on. As mentioned earlier – a reflective surface is a valuable feature you should not skip. The reflective material is best positioned on the sides, on the front (below the neck and/or around it), and at the top of the back of your dog. Metal clips are preferred but sturdy plastic ones should do fine as well.
Some owners may want to have a pouch on the vest so you can put medication inside or a GPS tracker (which I strongly recommend) that can be followed via your phone or those of your family members. A transparent pocket can be positioned on the back of the dog or around its neck where you can put an ID card if you have one. This pocket could be used to list instructions for a medical worker in case you are not conscious and need someone to help you with knowledge of your particular health problems.
Where to Buy a Service Dog Vest
You can buy a quality service dog vest online or at any local pet accessories store as long as the store is sufficiently stocked. I would recommend buying a vest online as your choice will be rich. Shops like “SitStay.com” and “Chewy.com” are good places to start your search. You should make sure your dog is accustomed to wearing a vest during work hours. The service dog should not bite into the vest as this will interfere with the functionality of the vest. Not to mention, biting the vest will not reassure others of your dog’s discipline.