Can My Dog Be A Therapy or Service Dog?

You probably have seen or know someone with a service or therapy dog. Although both types of dogs can have a significant impact, it’s essential to understand the difference between service dogs and therapy dogs, let’s dive in.

Service Dogs vs. Therapy Dogs 

Service dogs are trained to perform specific tasks that assist their owner’s disability, such as guiding the blind, detecting oncoming seizures, or assisting wheelchair bound handlers. According to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), service dogs are legally allowed access to all public spaces.

Therapy dogs are trained to provide comfort and emotional support to people in various settings, such as hospitals, nursing homes, and schools. Unlike service dogs, therapy dogs do not have the same public access rights, but they may be allowed special permission in some establishments.

Does My Dog Have The Right Temperament for the Task?

Temperament is key before considering your dog for service or therapy work. These dogs need to have specific traits that allow them to perform well, regardless of distractions or complex situations. Some vital characteristics include a calm and friendly demeanor, confidence under pressure, adaptability to new environments, and a drive to work. If your dog demonstrates these traits, they may be a candidate for service or therapy training.

What Breeds Make Good Service Dogs?

Although service and therapy dogs come in all shapes and sizes, certain breeds tend to excel in these roles due to their natural temperament, intelligence, and work ethic. Breeds such as Golden Retrievers, Labrador retrievers, and Poodle Mixes are popular choices because other trainability and intelligence. However, it is important to keep in mind that each dog is unique, and breed alone does not determine whether your dog can become a successful service or therapy dog. 

What Training Does My Dog Need?

If your dog has the temperament and determination to become a service or therapy dog, professional training is the next step. For service dogs, an experienced trainer will need to work with your dog to develop the necessary skills to mitigate your specific disability. It is essential to teach your dog public access skills so they can accompany you in various environments.

For therapy dogs, training focuses on obedience, building a bond between handler and dog, and providing comfort and support in different situations. Many organizations offer therapy dog certification programs that will guide you through the necessary training, evaluation, and registration process.