There are so many different types of working dogs out in the world today that it can be difficult for the public to navigate who is who, especially with all of the news reports of "fake" Service Dogs or Emotional Support animals causing havoc on planes, in malls, and for real, legitimate Service Dog Handlers.
Given all of the misinformation and misuse of these terms it is important to be aware of the differences between each group of working dogs. There are many more, but I want to focus on Service Dogs, Emotional Support Animals, and Therapy Dogs.
Service Dogs, according to the Americans with Disabilities Act are:
"dogs that are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities".
These dogs, under the ADA, must be extensively trained to perform "work" that relates directly to one person's disabilities.
Service Dogs receive full public access to all public spaces with their handler in order to assist and mitigate their handler's disabilities.
For answers to more FAQs, view our FAQ page and to learn about the types of tasks a Service Dog can do, read more on our service dog Training Process page.
Emotional Support Animals
Emotional Support Animals are animals that have minimal training and function to provide only emotional comfort in the home. These animals receive special status only in private home locations under the Fair Housing Act and on a case by case basis, depending on the airline, in air travel.
These dogs do not have full access to public spaces and they are not required to be "task" trained to mitigate their handler's disability.
Therapy Dogs are trained, loving dogs that provide comfort to groups of people. For example, therapy dogs go into hospitals, trauma centers, schools, etc.
They often have specialized training, but are not required to. These dogs only have access to non-dog friendly environments where they are "working."