Not All Service Dog Vests Are Equal: Here's What You Need to Know

Not All Service Dog Vests Are Equal: Here’s What You Need to Know

Service dog vests and service dog harnesses make therapy dogs instantly recognizable and distinguish them from the other loyal dogs you see in your community. The vests are usually blue but also come in red, green, or orange. Although these colors are often used for dog vests, in general, it is often the patches on the vests that identify them as service dogs.

Why do we need to distinguish therapy dogs from other pets? It’s a matter of safety. Our first instinct when we see a pet owner with their dog is to pet them. However, a service dog has a job to do, and distracting that dog from his owner’s care can often have traumatic results.

Another factor to consider is that if a service dog is easily identifiable, the owner is less likely to be embarrassed if approached by a store owner due to the presence of their dog. As we all know, it’s illegal to discriminate against people with disabilities, but if a store owner is not aware that the dog is performing a job, they are well within the law to ask that dog to be removed.

What Color Service Dog Vest Should I Buy My Pet?

Before we look into which color is best, it’s important to know the definition of a service dog. According to Animal Planet, a service dog performs tasks for disabled people while a therapy dog is a source of comfort for people suffering from mental illness or people living in eldercare facilities.

A study conducted in 2016 by Megan Huckaby found that service dogs were able to reduce the symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in war veterans. For these purposes, the color of your dogs’ therapy vest is not as important as ensuring it has the right features. The dog should be comfortable and safe while wearing its vest.

Which Factors Should I Consider When Buying a Service Dog Vest?

There are many factors you need to consider when deciding which therapy dog vest to buy, the least of which may be color. For the comfort of your dog and yourself, you should consider the following:

  • Size and weight of the dog
  • The weight of the vest fabric
  • Does the vest have reflective patches?
  • Where do you and your dog live?
  • What type of service dog is your pet?

Your service dog’s harness is another consideration. The harness should:

  • Be flexible and light
  • Be easy to put on and take off
  • Fit both you and your dog well

If your therapy dog’s harness has all of the above features, including being comfortable for you, then communication between you and your pet will be much easier for you both. Communication is, of course, the most important aspect of your relationship with your guide or service dog.

There are still other factors to consider. Will your dog be carrying bulky or medical supplies? If so you may need to look at tactical dog harnesses. These harness vests are specifically designed to enable dogs to carry emergency supplies comfortably.

Emotional support dog vests should ideally have a patch that states they provide emotional support. Again, it’s about safety, and other people need to be aware of what type of support you may need. If you suffer from anxiety attacks, you may need different support when out in the community than, for example, a visually impaired person.

Should a Dog in Training Wear a Service Animal Vest?

It is perhaps even more important that while a dog is involved in service dog training, they wear a vest. A service dog in training vest should be comfortable enough for the dog to be able to get used to wearing it, but it must also be adjustable for size. Training a service or therapy dog can take up to two years to complete so the vest needs to be able to grow as your dog does.

Is There Anything Else That Can Help Me Decide Which Service Dog Vest to Buy?

Ultimately, the decision to buy a service dog vest is driven by need. You are the only person who knows exactly what your needs are. It’s also important to remember that your needs may change over the years and therefore, you may need to replace your dog’s vest.

As we’ve seen, there are several options available to you  when you need to shop for a service animal vest. The important thing is to make sure that the vest you choose meets all of your requirements.

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