Service dogs and therapy dogs are often confused with one another, but they are very different in terms of their training, responsibilities, and purposes. Here is a closer look at the differences between service dogs and therapy dogs:
- Training: Service dogs undergo extensive and specialized training to perform specific tasks for individuals with disabilities, such as guiding the visually impaired, alerting individuals with hearing impairments, and assisting individuals with mobility impairments. On the other hand, therapy dogs undergo less extensive training and are trained to provide comfort and support to individuals in a variety of settings, such as hospitals, nursing homes, and schools.
- Purpose: Service dogs are trained to perform specific tasks for individuals with disabilities, while therapy dogs are trained to provide comfort and support to individuals in a variety of settings.
- Access: Service dogs are legally protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and are allowed access to public places and facilities that are not normally open to pets. Therapy dogs, on the other hand, are not protected under the ADA and do not have the same level of access to public places and facilities.
- Certification: Service dogs must be certified by a recognized organization and must be trained to perform specific tasks for individuals with disabilities. Therapy dogs do not require certification, but may have a certification from a recognized therapy dog organization.
- Interactions with the public: Service dogs must be well-behaved and not distractible in public, as they are working dogs. Therapy dogs, on the other hand, are trained to be friendly and approachable and are typically used in settings where they can interact with the public, such as hospitals and nursing homes.
- Owner’s responsibility: Owners of service dogs must take full responsibility for the care and behavior of their dogs, as well as ensuring their dogs are trained and certified. Owners of therapy dogs must also take responsibility for the care and behavior of their dogs, but they are typically not required to have specialized training or certification.
In conclusion, service dogs and therapy dogs play important roles in the lives of individuals with disabilities and those in need of comfort and support. Understanding the differences between these two types of dogs can help ensure that they are used effectively and appropriately.