Assistance and Support Dogs on Campus

The University recognises that there may on occasions be a desire, or requirement, for dogs to be present within the University. This policy sets out for staff and students the University’s position on, and the arrangements for, dog access to the university campus, including any necessary restrictions that are in place.

‘Maggie’s’ and The Students’ Union are not included in this policy statement, and separate policies and procedures apply.

We recognise that there might be times where other animals might be brought or requested to be brought onto campus, and any such instance will be addressed outside of this policy. However, the principles and legislative compliance requirements set out in this document will apply.

2 - Standard

As a general principle, dogs should not be brought into the University buildings, including the halls of residence, without permission. Dogs should also not be left in parked vehicles on campus or tied up outside buildings.

The development of this policy has given due consideration to the mixed-use nature of the campus and the potential for disruption to other campus users arising from:

  • Campus user health and wellbeing concerns, such as allergic reactions and the transmission of disease.
  • Health and Safety concerns, including issues such as aggressive behaviour of dogs, slips, trips and falls, delays in evacuation etc.
  • Campus users’ comfort and well-being, including fear of dogs, and cultural and religious reasons.
  • Hygiene issues, such as dog waste, infestation, cleanliness.

Some reasons why dogs may legitimately need to be within University buildings include:

  1. Assistance dogs providing specific physical support to their owners. Further definitions are provided in section 3.1.
  2. Dogs involved in specific scientific studies or teaching activity.
  3. Dogs brought into the buildings under a prearranged and agreed protocol, for example, as a dog-assisted education or therapy session.
  4. Working dogs that are required to perform a specific role, in that location, e.g., police dogs.

The University’s position in accordance with the Equality Act 2010 is that all assistance dogs will be allowed access to University buildings. The definition of assistance dogs is set out at paragraph 3.1. Owners of assistance dogs are required to comply with section 6 of this policy. No other dogs are permitted within University buildings, unless the criteria in section 3 are met and permission has been sought from the University in advance.

Dogs are permitted access to the University grounds, with such access subject to the dog being kept on lead, and to the owner adhering to the guidance outlined in section 6 below, Dog Owners’ Responsibilities.

3 - Definitions

The University distinguishes between assistance dogs, therapy and emotional support dogs, and dogs as pets or companions. This policy only covers dogs on campus and does not cover placements and placement providers who will have their own policy which would need to be adhered to.

3.1 Assistance Dogs

Under the Equality Act 2010 section 173, an assistance dog is defined as a dog:

  1. which has been trained to guide a blind person;
  2. which has been trained to assist a deaf person;
  3. 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 co-ordination or ability to lift, carry or otherwise move everyday objects;
  4. 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.

Assistance dogs are highly trained and are usually (but not necessarily) qualified by one of the charitable organisations registered as members of Assistance Dogs (UK), a voluntary coalition of 8 assistance dog charities accredited by Assistance Dogs International and the International Guide Dogs Federation.

Owners of AD (UK) registered dogs will normally have evidence that the dog is a registered assistance dog. Typically, this will include:

  • a formal identification in the form of branded jackets or lead slips;
  • a yellow ID booklet from the Assistance Dogs (UK) member organisation. This ID book contains information about the Assistance Dog and its owner, and details of the training organisation who trained the Assistance Dog.

Owners are not obliged to provide evidence, and should not be asked to do so, where the role and capabilities of the dog are obvious (e.g., a guide dog). Where there is no visible evidence that the dog is providing physical assistance, the University may request evidence of the status of the dog.

3.2 Approved working Therapets used by the University or Student Union

The Therapet scheme was devised by Canine Concern Scotland (CCS) and relates specifically to dogs. In the event that a dog is a registered Therapet, the owner will be in possession of a Therapet ID badge, and the dog will have an approved lead. Therapets are only insured by CCS while carrying out approved Therapet sessions.

The definitions and registration process for Therapets can be found on the Canine Concern Scotland website.

3.3 Therapy and Emotional Support Dogs

Therapy and emotional support dogs provide comfort and companionship; in some circumstances they can help alleviate identified symptoms or effects of a disability. Therapy dogs do not aid with mobility or practical tasks but may provide therapeutic benefits. Therapy and emotional support dogs are not recognised in UK law, so they do not have the same rights of access as assistance dogs. ADUK do not register or validate emotional support dogs.

Such dogs will generally not be allowed within University buildings, other than in very limited circumstances, and where the need for this is supported by evidence of medical need. Where permission is granted, dogs should be kept on a lead, as a courtesy to other building users who may be nervous, frightened, or uncomfortable around dogs.

Therapy and emotional support dogs should not normally be permitted within laboratory, workshop, or food handling areas.

3.4 Pets or Companion Dogs

The University recognises that pets or companion dogs often provide great support and comfort to many people and is sympathetic to this. However, it is important to balance that against the right of other campus users to work and study in an environment that they find comfortable, healthy, and safe. Many people may be physically uncomfortable around dogs, however well behaved those dogs may be.

There are also potential issues of allergy and hygiene that those who do not own dogs may find unacceptable within their working or learning environment. In some cases, dogs may be disruptive either in normal circumstances or, potentially, in an emergency. The policy position is therefore that pets or companion dogs should not be brought into University buildings.

4 - Access Arrangements

If an individual wishes to bring a dog into any University building, it is for the line manager, with the support of HR where required, in relation to staff, and Student Services, in relation to students, to discuss the situation with the individual involved in the first instance, in order to establish the status of the dog and the access requirements. In this process, further advice from the Human Resources, Health, Safety and Wellbeing Team, Disability Service and the Equality and Diversity Adviser may be sought to help inform a decision on whether access can be agreed, and under what arrangements. The typical arrangements for each category of dog covered in this policy are set out below.

4.1 Assistance Dogs

Pre-arranged access is not required for assistance dogs, as defined in section 3.1, whose status and role are obvious or can be demonstrated by the owner. Such dogs should normally be allowed entry with no further enquiry or restrictions, other than to high-risk areas where the presence of a dog is not appropriate for reasons of health and safety. Advice should be sought from the Health Safety and Wellbeing Manager if it is proposed to exclude an assistance dog on health and safety grounds.

If a student or member of staff seeks to bring an assistance dog into campus buildings on a regular basis, it is recommended nevertheless that they inform Student Services/ HR in advance about this to ensure support for this can be provided.

Staff and students using an assistance dog should ensure:

  • The dog is registered with ADUK
  • Appropriate public liability insurance is in place
  • They have notified Accommodation Services in advance if intending to live in the halls of residence, so a suitable room can be allocated.

4.2 Therapets

Therapets will be allowed on the premises for pre-arranged Therapet sessions arranged by the University or the Students’ Union. When Therapets are present at University premises they are the handler/owner’s responsibility. The handler/owner is responsible for the Therapet’s behaviour.

4.3 Therapy and Emotional Support Dogs

Students who consider that they require a therapy and emotional support dog on campus should discuss their situation confidentially with the Disability Service who can, if appropriate, advise on provision of suitable medical evidence.

Staff should approach their line manager and may also discuss their situation confidentially with their HR Partner and should be prepared to provide evidence in support of their case, normally via HR.

The decision whether to allow access will be based on risk, to ensure that a dog does not become a threat, health hazard, nuisance, or distraction to University staff, students, and visitors. The safety and wellbeing of the dog should also be considered. A list of relevant hazards to include within the risk assessment are set out below.

Typical hazards associated with dogs on campus:

  • Delayed or stalled evacuation in an emergency
  • Aggressive dog behaviour
  • Allergic reactions
  • Transmission of disease
  • Zoophobia – phobia of dogs that causes distress or dysfunction in an individual’s everyday life
  • Slips, trips and falls
  • Dog waste
  • Damage to University property

The student or staff member will be required to provide the following to Student Services (for students) and Human Resources (for staff):

  • Proof of registration with an approved assistance/support/therapet organisation.
  • Proof of insurance, including liability insurance.
  • Proof that the dog has undergone appropriate training with an appropriate training provider.
  • Evidence that a support dog is required (for example a letter from a medical professional).

Therapy and emotional support dogs will not normally be permitted within lab, workshop or food handling areas.

Therapy and emotional support dogs are not permitted in the halls of residence.

The University reserves the right to exclude a dog from a facility or, in extreme circumstances, from the campus, if the dog poses a threat to the health and safety of others.

4.4 Organised Events

Where an organised event has been arranged on campus that involves the use of dogs and other animals, and the relevant safety and risk assessments have been completed, as per the QMU Conference and Events Booking Policy, this activity will be permitted.

4.5 Companion Dogs or Pets

The policy position is that companion dogs or pets are not permitted in University buildings and will not be allowed access.

4.6 Unplanned Access

It is likely that on some occasions, line managers, and staff within Security, will be confronted with a situation where an individual arrives with a dog, or is found to be already within a building. In such circumstances, by necessity, discretionary decisions will be taken by those in charge, following discussion with the owner, on whether to allow temporary access pending further enquiries. In making this decision the rights of other building users will be considered as well as the circumstances of the owner. Where the dog is well behaved, is causing no concern to others and it is judged that the owner may have had a reasonable expectation that it would be admitted, it may be reasonable to allow the dog to remain for a short period, on that occasion only.

5 - QMU Responsibilities

5.1 QMU provides a spending pen for assistance dogs and will maintain the spending pen to a state that ensures the dog’s health and the owner’s safety.

5.2 QMU will provide familiarisation with and orientation on the campus as part of an induction for assistance dogs and their owners.

5.3 When a resident student has an assistance dog, the Accommodation Services Office is responsible for informing other students in the accommodation who are likely to come into contact with the assistance dog and for asking them to confirm that they would not be adversely affected by the presence of the dog. For assistance dogs belonging to staff, the HR department will be responsible for informing other staff who might come in contact with the assistance dog.

5.4 Student Services staff will provide relevant advice to students with assistance dogs, and signpost them to this policy to ensure that they are aware of the help provided by QMU and aware of their rights and responsibilities. If required, the Disability Services team will liaise with the student’s academic department and student accommodation to ensure that any reasonable adjustments needed have been made.

6 - Dog Owner's Responsibilities

Assistance dogs and approved emotional support dogs will be allowed access to University buildings at any time. Where the status of the dog is not clear the owner may be asked for proof of the dog’s status.


6.2 Assistance dog owners must ensure, where possible, that their assistance dogs are clearly identifiable by the use of special collars and/or harnesses when on duty.

Access restrictions

6.3 Assistance dog owners must respect access restrictions established by the University on grounds of health and safety, e.g., laboratories. Owners must ensure also that assistance dogs do not enter staff and students’ privately assigned spaces, such as bedrooms and flats within residences, without permission.

6.4 Owners must keep the dog on a lead at all times when inside the University buildings if the dog is permitted.

Dog misbehaviour

6.5 Preventing and correcting assistance dog’s misbehaviour is the owner’s responsibility. Owners must make sure that their assistance dog is not disruptive in any way or cause harm or injury to others and damage to University property.


6.6 Assistance dog users share responsibility for the clean-up of the dog’s waste, consistent with reasonable capacity. Owners must use the designated areas identified by the University.

In the unlikely event that the dog does foul outside of these designated areas, the owner must report this to Security, who will make arrangements for the area to be cleaned and sanitised.

Dog care and supervision

6.7 Dog care is the owner’s responsibility. The owner ensures regular health checks, vaccination, and an adequate standard of grooming. Owners must ensure the assistance dog has its requirements in relation to feeding, watering and toileting fully met.

6.8 Owners must ensure that assistance dogs are kept on a lead at all times when walking around the University estate. Owners of assistance dogs that are ill, in poor health, excessively unclean or unkempt may be required to remove the dog from University premises. Queen Margaret University is not responsible for the loss, ill health, or death of the assistance dog.

6.9 Owners are responsible for the training and training needs of their assistance dog.

Consideration for Other Campus Users

6.10 Owners must have due consideration to other students and staff who might be uncomfortable with dogs on campus and in teaching areas. In situations where this is the case it is expected that the dog is removed from the area unless it is an assistance dog.

6.11 Owners must have due consideration for the other wildlife that inhabit the campus and ensure that any dog within their control does not attack or injure other campus wildlife.

6.12 Campus users must have due consideration to owners of assistance, guide and support dogs and their dogs. The dogs included in this policy are working dogs and not pets, and campus users will need to show consideration for this and not disrupt the dog in carrying out their purpose. It is not acceptable to approach, pet, feed and in any way disrupt an assistance, guide or support dog.

7 - Complaints About Dogs On Campus

If a student or staff member wishes to make a complaint or express concern about a dog on campus, they should report this to the security team at main reception/ the Campus Operations Supervisor or Campus Operations Manager.

This will be raised with the individual and their line manager/Head of Department.

Every attempt will be made to resolve the matter informally with the owner. If the matter cannot be resolved informally, or the informal resolution is not complied with, then the issue will be escalated and dealt with through the University’s Complaints Handling Procedure

QMU reserves the right to refuse access for any dog if regular infringements of this policy occur.

Any feedback on this policy should be sent to Dr Jessica Lindohf, Head of Student Services.