Service, Therapy, and Emotional Support Dogs: What's The Difference?

Written by: 
Samantha Epstein

K9s For Warriors provides service dogs to post-9/11 veterans suffering from the invisible wounds of war.

Sometimes we hear individuals referring to our service dogs as support or therapy dogs, which is not correct. Although service, emotional support, and therapy dogs all do very important jobs, they are very different.

What is a service dog?

This type of dog is individually trained to perform tasks that mitigate the disability of its owner. A service dog requires a great deal of specialized training and is considered an assistive device by the ADA. These dogs are permitted to accompany their disabled handlers anywhere the public is permitted.

What is an emotional support dog?

This type of dog is prescribed by a doctor who feels that the presence of the animal will improve their patient’s mental health. Little or no training is required. Emotional support dogs do not have to perform tasks for their handlers nor do they have public access rights.

What is a therapy dog?

This type of dog has been trained to visit facilities like hospitals and nursing homes for the benefit of the patients there. These dogs are brought in by their owners and are legally pets. Therapy dogs have no public access rights and are not permitted into facilities without authorization.

K9s For Warriors Service Dog Hager

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