Around the world, dogs are commonly used to assist and better the lives of many individuals in need. Let’s celebrate International Assistance Dog Week and learn more about different types of working dogs. In the United States, there are three more commonly known types of assistance dogs under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). This includes service dogs, therapy dogs, and emotional support animals. It is important to know the differences between these types of assistance dogs. They all have important but very different purposes. Its easy to confuse the types of assistance dogs but being able to differentiate between these very different types of assistance dogs is essential to protect their ability to do their jobs.

Service Dogs:

A service dog is a dog that assists an individual with a disability. They are highly trained to task or perform work that helps mitigate an individual’s disability. Service dogs can assist a wide range of disabilities and perform many different types of tasks for assistance. They assist individuals with physical and psychiatric disabilities. Consider a service dog as medical equipment just like a wheelchair. Importantly, the rules and regulations that apply to a wheelchair are very similar to those of a service dog. A service dog is an extension of their handler because they are completely dependent upon their service dogs ability to work. Service dogs are legally the only assistance dogs in the U.S. that have full public access rights and can accompany their handler in non-pet friendly places. Without a doubt, service dogs provide independence, security, and a higher quality of life for individuals with disabilities.


Therapy Dogs:

Next, a therapy dog is a dog that has been trained to visit facilities to provide comfort, support, and happiness to individuals that are ill, in distress, or in need. Some of the places they often visit are hospitals, nursing homes, schools, airports and more. Therapy dogs generally do not have public access rights. A facility grants access to therapy dogs by inviting their assistance. Further, they assist many individuals, sometimes many at once and therefore should have a calm and gentle demeanor. Therapy dogs typically train with an organization. The ADA defines but does not protect therapy dogs legally. Therapy dogs can be very soothing and uplifting to the individuals they encounter. 

Emotional Support Animals:

Following, an emotional support animal (ESA) or also known as comfort or companion animals are animals that’s sole purpose is to provide security and comfort to an individual in need by simply their presence. ESA’s provide companionship to only a single person. The ADA defines and protects ESAs legally. The ADA does not require ESA’s to have specific training. An ESA must have a doctors note and the doctors note proves how their animals company is necessary in the appropriate cases. Public housing and airplanes must allow ESAs to accompany their owners. Non-pet friendly places do not allow ESAs access because they do not have full public access rights. Undoubtedly, ESAs can be very healing and supportive to individuals by providing companionship. 


Heres How to Support:


1) Honor assistance dogs by doing research to learn more about different types of assistance dogs in the United States as well as their roles around the world. Help stop the spread of harmful and misleading information.


2) Respect laws in place for different assistance dogs and follow them accordingly. For example, not bringing pets or ESAs in non-pet friendly places.


3) Support legit assistance dog teams. Give them a kind comment or words of encouragement. Shout them out for their amazing work together. Also, be sure to share this blog post with your family and friends and pass the support onward. 


To learn more about assistance dogs, more specifically service dogs within the U.S., be sure to follow @DogisGood on Instagram. Keep an eye out for exciting and educational upcoming posts. Dog is Good is so proud to announce partnership with service dog specialist, advocate, and handler, Bri Harris, of @followyourarrow_gsp to create a DIG Service Dog campaign for September in honor of Service Dog Awareness month.