ADI states that for dogs to be certified for access to public places like shopping malls, movie theaters and public pools, they must pass a standardized test. This test is called the Public Access Test (PAT) and is administered by a staff member of the assistance dog organization. Every type of service dog is put through this test if they are being used in the public and the organization training the dog is ADI accredited. National Service Dogs puts every dog through this test and bases much of their training on the skills the dog must have to be able to complete it successfully.

The PAT tests skills such as remaining calm when greeted by a stranger, remaining in a down stay while being approached by a shopping cart, ignoring dropped food and remaining in a heel position while walking. Each service dog team places completes this test annually for the first 3 years of their working life and then every 3 years following until retirement. The skills on the PAT represent a minimum; NSD strives to far exceed the expectations by the time the dog is placed with a child with autism. A sample of the PAT can be found on the ADI website.

The ability to pass the PAT is not the sole determination of whether the dog will be put to work. All of our dogs are evaluated for health, personality and temperament throughout their training process. The PAT ensures that everything the dog has learned can be put into practice.

Tomorrow we’ll be doing a special blog recognizing all the important people that help us fulfill our mission. We can’t thank them enough!