Worried about access issues of my SD in Training at my university!

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Worried about access issues of my SD in Training at my university!

This is a discussion on Worried about access issues of my SD in Training at my university! within the Working Dogs forums, part of the Dog Shows and Performance category; In the state of Alabama, Service Dogs in Training have the same access rights as a fully trained SD. I haven't found anything specific about ...

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Old 06-24-2014, 11:51 AM
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Worried about access issues of my SD in Training at my university!

In the state of Alabama, Service Dogs in Training have the same access rights as a fully trained SD. I haven't found anything specific about if this also is true for access to schools? I start back school in the fall and will need Bristol with me in order to attend. She has her basic obedience down and has learned her 5 main tasks. We are proofing them everyday in public places and she is amazing me at how well she is doing. Our only issue is she wants to play and gets distracted by other dogs, but I have not seen any other dogs on campus. I will be contacting a trainer about this as soon as I can afford to do so.

Has anyone had an experience with this or know if the laws applies to schools as well?
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Old 06-24-2014, 12:21 PM
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I would imagine it applies to schools. Maybe just call your school and talk with an administrator? Let them know your situation and that you have a service dog who will be with you. Contact your professors/teachers after and let them know as well so no surprises.
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Old 06-24-2014, 01:02 PM
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Housing is different because it isn't title three. I believe with housing it depends on how many other buildings the owner owns and they might be able to require doctoral papers. When I'm at a computer I'll check in my notes and see if I can find links and more info.
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Edit: Eep, I thought you meant dorm rooms. You have to go through your office of disability services. They can require diagnosis information from a qualified physician and knowledge of how your disability affects your life in most university access cases.

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Old 06-24-2014, 01:16 PM
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I emailed my DSS (disability support services) counselor and asked for a meeting and explained. Waiting to hear back. I am already registered with them and they knew the possibility of me getting a dog. I just don't want any issues because she is in training. I will not take her if I don't think she can handle it.
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Old 06-24-2014, 07:32 PM
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I'd contact the department/person at your college who's in charge of making sure students' ADA needs are covered. At the college where I teach, that would be Student Academic Services, but where that task is handled may differ from university to university. I know the ADA covers service animals, but I'm not sure about service animals-in-training.

If it's an ADA issue, they have to allow you to have the dog on campus, assisting you in classes etc. I'm not sure how it affects on-campus housing, but I do know that there were students on campus with seeing eye dogs living in campus housing (apartments) when I was in college. It's no different than having interpreters for students who are hard of hearing or special desks for students who require them for whatever reason. For instance, I had a student who was a veteran and had injured his back pretty severely while he was in the service. He was provided with a specially supportive chair and desk, because he couldn't sit in the standard student desk for more than a half an hour without experiencing pain.

Believe me, your university will want to work with you, because it's to their benefit to do so, as they are required by law to meet ADA standards and want to have a comprehensive list of all the students on their campus who have special needs and how they were met. That way they can prove to the federal government that they're in compliance with ADA regulations. It's also helpful to you in that they can contact your professors in advance, so that no one's surprised when you show up with a dog in class the first day (and, should there be a problem--say, a particular professor is highly allergic to dogs--they can figure out a way to deal with that before it becomes a problem by doing something like putting you in a different section taught by a professor who isn't allergic)
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Old 06-27-2014, 03:39 PM
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Thank you Tilden for your advice! I did email my Disability counselor/coordinator and we are meeting Monday. She welcomed me to bring Bristol (my SDiT) and that we would discuss how this will work, so obviously that is a good sign!

ADA doesn't cover dogs in training, that varies from state to state. Alabama gives full access to SDiTs just like fully trained SDs. Even if they didn't, under the ADA she is a trained dog as she has her obedience skills covered and she already works and performs tasks for my disability. I just prefer to say she is in training until we have more experience under us! She already goes everywhere with me and does a great job. Our only issue is she becomes extremely distracted by other dogs. I start with a professional trainer tonight on working on that issue.

I hope everything goes smoothly Monday! I need her on campus with me!
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Old 06-27-2014, 11:09 PM
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If you dog meets ADA standards and your state gives full access to SDiTs anyway, I should think you're going to be fine. As I said, universities/colleges are typically anxious to meet the needs of differently abled students, especially given the competition for students in general these days. But really, they are legally bound to meet ADA needs anyway. If they don't, they could be in trouble with regard to federal funding, and no school wants to be in that position, because too many students are involved in federally funded programs of one type or another.

I don't know how many dogs are typically on your campus, but as my campus is, thankfully, extremely dog-friendly, I have had my dog on campus a lot, as it was a great place to practice for his TDI test (which he thankfully passed on his first try). I find that everyone--people I don't even know--want to pet my dog when he's on campus. You may find that almost as distracting as other dogs being around, so you will need to come up with a polite way to make it clear to other students when (if ever) it's okay to pet your working dog. As for being distracted by other dogs, have you trained the "leave it" command with your dog? I know it's supposed to be for things like food, but I've found my dog gets that "leave it" means leave alone whatever's distracting him. I used it to keep him from yanking to the end of his leash after a rabbit the other day. I saw him contemplating doing just that, told him "leave it," and he did. Granted, he wasn't free to run after it anyway, but he didn't pull forward either. In fact, he sat when I told him to and didn't move as the rabbit ran past. Color me shocked. I really didn't think it would work that well.
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Old 06-30-2014, 03:16 PM
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Well I just left from the meeting with my DSS advisor and Bristol is cleared to be on campus with me! I gave her a copy of my doctor's prescription to keep on file. She said they have several new service animals on campus this year, so they are doing training with faculty on how to respond, which is good!

That is awesome that leave it worked so well for you! For Bristol, we have found it's more of a "barrier" or leash frustration about seeing other dogs. We have had two training sessions and she is slowly doing better with it. In fact, today at the park we were able to pass 2 dogs with only a small amount of pulling and some whining, which is huge improvement actually! She wouldn't take the treats I offered (I need higher value for this) so I clicked the clicker and praised her like crazy!

My campus is not pet friendly aside from Service Animals, which works best for me right now until I get her better trained. I am starting this week to take her on campus and "tour" the various buildings that we will be attending classes in this next semester. They have new student orientations going on 4 days of the week, so that will be a good distraction tester and get her use to the crowds. She has done good so far in crowds, but it never hurts to have more experience!
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Old 06-30-2014, 03:42 PM
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I'm glad you're feeling more secure about having Bristol on campus and that your meeting went well. Very recently I read an article about a New Jersey school where an elementary school student and his family were hassled endlessly about his service dog--and ended up paying a $10,000 fine because of it, since it was determined that the school was in violation of ADA standards. Schools and universities are going to have to become more understanding about service animals or face financial penalties if they don't.

I think it's a really good idea for you to do a campus tour with Bristol. The more comfortable the two of you are on campus the better. Even if you didn't have a service animal, I'd still advise you to check out the different buildings you need to be in and the amount of time it takes to get between them. It makes things so much simpler if you know exactly where you're going those first few days. Even on the relatively small private college campus where I teach, freshmen are continually getting lost. I once had to tell a student that he was standing in the building to which he was asking directions. There's no way to tell someone that and not have it be embarrassing.

In addition, if there are other freshman doing tours and orientation at the same time you and Bristol are doing it, that gives you a chance to meet people who might be in your classes and educate them about what Bristol does for you. That will help them understand how they need to behave around her when she's working. Even if you only get to tell a couple of people about that, you'd be surprised how quickly word spreads on college campuses, and the more people who understand what they should and shouldn't do around Bristol the better. Honestly, I suspect having a dog on campus will also help you meet people more quickly simply because a lot of people like dogs, and a lot of other students will be missing the family pets they had to leave behind when they left for college. I've had people I don't know stop me on campus when I've had my dog, who is not a service dog, with me. In fact, one young woman stopped, asked if she could pet my dog, played with him for a bit, turned to me and said, "Thanks. I really needed that today," and took off again. I have no idea who she was, but I'm glad to have helped her out.
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Old 07-01-2014, 08:03 PM
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Thank you. I have actually been attending this college for 2 years now, but had to do a medical withdrawal last semester and failed some classes the semester before. I received a head injury June 2013 that put me in the hospital and gave me some severe issues that I still deal with. On top of this, I had priorly dealt with depression and anxiety from childhood and adult traumas. The head injury increased my symptoms until I was diagnosed with PTSD in September.

So thankfully I am familiar with the campus, it will just be a new start for me and hopefully having Bristol to help with my issues from PTSD and some dizziness issues from the head injury, I will be able to pick my grades back up.

I am hoping to slowly meet and befriend more people, all though it will be a slow progress. Having Bristol will help I am sure. Not just in socializing, but also showing me I can be around people (mainly guys) without being terrified. She is not aggressive at all, however she is very quick to get between me and certain people i have noticed. This does help with my hyper vigilance. Before getting her, I never wanted to get out of bed and I dissociated most of the time. She now gives me something to focus on and goals to set for each day, even if it's just taking care of her needs and wants.

She has already started alerting me on her own when I am becoming anxious or dissociated, sometimes before I really notice it. I have trained her how to properly alert me via nosing my arm or leg and then pawing me if that doesn't work. She also knows how to apply deep pressure therapy which helps with panic attacks and flashbacks. I also dare say 90% of the time, she is touching my leg with some part of her body. This helps with keeping me from dissociating as well as when I have dizziness issues, it helps center/balance me. If she is not doing this automatically, I have trained a cue for her to do so.

Overall I am optimistic for the first time in over a year that I will be able to get back on track and go after my dreams. I know I have many challenges ahead, but I will get through it one day at a time and having Bristol makes those days easier and sometimes just possible!
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