How to Customize Your Service Dog Vest
There's a service dog vest for every type of service dog, whatever its size or breed. Although each vest serves as a visual indication that the dog is a service dog, not every handler has the same needs, and not every service dog provides the same function. However, with thoughtful customization, a service dog vest can meet the handler’s needs.
Finding the Perfect Fit
Service dogs come in all shapes and sizes, meaning they must accommodate a wide range of service dog vest sizes. Most vests can be divided into large or small sizes with the following requirements:
● Large - Over 30 lbs. and over 30” girth
● Small - Under 30 lbs. and under 30” girth
Each service dog vest has an adjustable girth and chest strap that secures the vest to the dog. Girth strap extenders can be added for growing service dogs to avoid causing the animal discomfort due to a too-tight vest.
The material of the vest itself may be chosen by the handler. A padded service dog vest is made with soft yet high quality woven cotton fabric for comfort, while a mesh vest offers breath-ability for warmer weather. Colors may vary as well from red, blue, orange, raspberry, or a camouflage pattern.
Conveying the Right Message
You can also customize what you want a service dog vest to say. Messages can explicitly state “Service Dog” on the vest, as well as help identify what the service dog is trained to do. This is accomplished with sewn-on patches that say:
● Service Dog
● Medical Alert Dog
● Seizure Alert Dog
● Guide Dog
● Hearing Dog
● Diabetic Alert Dog
Service dog vests can have multiple patches to provide the public with a more complete understanding of the dog’s presence in a public place.
A service dog vest can also have additional helpful features. For example, a zipper pocket provides the handler with a protected, enclosed space to place small belongings such as keys, a phone, or a wallet. An ID badge holder attached onto the vest provides a convenient area for additional identification. Reflective strip service dog vests provide safety for both animal and handler during nighttime or evening outings. Handlers may incorporate these features to create the ideal custom service dog vest for their needs.
Choosing the right combination of materials, messaging, and features for your vest is an important step in traveling in public with a service dog. Make sure to know what your service dog vest needs to help you have an easy outing.