Assistance dogs are dogs that have been highly trained to carry out a range of tasks and alerts that support a disabled person or person with a long-term medical condition. Examples include a guide dog that guides a visually impaired person, a medical alert dog that alerts a person to an oncoming medical episode, or an assistance dog that alerts someone with a psychiatric condition to take medication.

Assistance dogs should have been prepared and trained in a variety of environments so that they are capable and confident when out and about and will not pose a public nuisance.

Not all assistance dogs are trained by an ADUK member charity, but all assistance dogs should be highly trained regardless of where they were trained or who trained them, whether that be a non-ADUK charity or organisation, a professional trainer or an individual.

Although many people will be familiar with Labradors trained to guide visually impaired people, assistance dogs come from a wide variety of breeds.

Watch ADUK’s animation ‘What is an Assistance Dog’ to find out more or find out more general information about assistance dogs, including expected behaviours, in our ADUK Quick Guide Welcoming Customers with Assistance Dogs

Assistance Dogs and the Equality Act 2010

The Equality Act lays out that in relation to protecting the rights of a disabled people when accessing private hire transport, an assistance dog means

(a) a dog which has been trained to guide a blind person;
(b) a dog which has been trained to assist a deaf person;
(c) a dog which has been trained by a prescribed charity to assist a disabled person who has a disability that consists of epilepsy or otherwise affects the person’s mobility, manual dexterity, physical coordination or ability to lift, carry or otherwise move everyday objects;
(d) a dog of a prescribed category which has been trained to assist a disabled person who has a disability (other than one falling within paragraph (c)) of a prescribed kind.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission states that assistance dogs:

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