Return to blog

Service Dogs, Emotional Support Animals, and Therapy Dogs Explained

There is controversy surrounding the roles of animals in the lives of people with disabilities or chronic illnesses. Many of us have seen the posts online about registering your animal as an emotional support animal with a small fee, and being able to keep your animal in a no pets allowed setting. This has led people to question the legitimacy of all service animals and their roles. A feeling of distrust among people who do not understand the difference between these animals, and the rights that accompany them, has been emerging as more people utilize these services.

Service Dogs are the most protected and trained of the 3 types of dogs. While many people refer to all 3 types as “service animals”, the official names for this type is Service Dog. These dogs are legally considered medical equipment and have a price tag to match, ranging from $10,000-$50,000. They are intensively trained for 1.5-2.5 years, having to pass a variety of tests to be serviceable including, but not limited to, opening cupboards, retrieving dropped objects, staying calm in public, etc.
Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Service Dogs are allowed anywhere their handler is, and cannot be turned away from an establishment or refused to go to work with their handler. DOT's Air Carrier Access Act, and DOJ/HUD Fair Housing Act and Federal Rehabilitation Act cover other circumstances that the ADA doesn't. While there is a difference between Service Dogs and Emotional Support Animals, there is a gray area for dogs that are used to calm anxiety attacks under ADA rules. Psychiatric Service Dogs are covered under the ADA only if they perform a specific action to avoid or lessen an attack. If they are just there for comfort then they are considered an Emotional Support Animal.

Therapy dogs are kind of the opposite side of the same coin as Service Dogs. Instead of offering physical aid to their handlers, they provide psychological or physiological therapy to others and are accompanied by a handler who doesn't usually need their service. The best example of a therapy dog would be dogs that go to children's hospitals to bring comfort, or dogs that work in school systems.
These animals, like the Service Dogs, require extensive training. Therapy dogs are also encouraged to be very social and interact with a variety of people, unlike Service Dogs who need to focus on their handler. Therapy dogs may be trained by anyone, but they need to meet standards to be certified. Therapy dogs do not have the same rights as service dogs, though many places will allow a therapy dog to accompany their owners, they are not required to by law.

The last type we are discussing are Emotional Support Animals. This one is the most vague and open-ended. An Emotional Support Animal does not have to have any special training and most of the time is registered by its owner because it brings comfort. Also, an Emotional Support Animal does not have to be a dog. These animals are not protected under the ADA and cannot accompany their owners in establishments where there are no animals allowed. Owners with a registered support animals can keep them in housing that otherwise does not allow pets according to the Fair Housing Act.

Recent Articles

Another Satisfied Customer

Another Satisfied Customer

There's nothing better than when someone sends us a review letting us know how one of our products helped change their life for the better. It's a nice reminder that our work is doing something good in the world.
The Shocking Truth About Shock Collars

The Shocking Truth About Shock Collars

Shock collars can be painful and harmful to your dog and there are other more humane options available to train your best friend to not bark so much.
3 Ways Dog Barking Can Ruin Your Day

3 Ways Dog Barking Can Ruin Your Day

Dog barking in the middle of the night can ruin your day. Studies show that If you don't get enough sleep you might be feeling ruff the next day. The 3:00am wake up call It's the middle of the night and bark, bark, bark your neighbor's dog is at it again. Has this happened to you? If the answer is yes, you know how frustrating it can be to repeatedly not get a good night's sleep because your neighbor's are rude or just they don't get it. What can you do to stop the dog barking? Wish you could just...

You love your dog. The constant barking, not so much...

You love your dog. The constant barking, not so much...

No matter how much you love your dog. It can be frustrating when they bark at each and every little sound or passerby. The Dog Silencer® is a safe, humane and effective way to automatically train your dog to stop barking. How's it work? When the Dog Silencer detects barking it immediately sends a high-pitched sound heard only by them. This sound is designed to simply “irritate” your dog. We compare it to someone dragging their fingernails on a black board. Any dog that's within hearing range of the Dog Silencer will hear the bark deterring sound. Using this proven...

Q&A: Will BarkWise Collars Fit My Small, 5-Pound Dog?

Q&A: Will BarkWise Collars Fit My Small, 5-Pound Dog?

Q: Will the collars be too big for my small 5-pound dog? A: The BarkWise collars fit dogs that are 8 pounds or larger with neck sizes ranging from 6–24″. They are lightweight at only 2 ounces, but for a small 5-pound dog, they have proven to be too big. That doesn't mean that we don't have a solution for you! The Dog Silencer and OnGuard do not require that your dog wear a collar, so it works for any dogs – no matter how small! The Dog Silencer® is a stationary device. Place it in the same room –...