What is a Therapy Dog and how is that different from an Emotional Support Dog or a Service Dog?

by | Nov 27, 2023 | 0 comments

These are most often misunderstood terms. While all of these dogs need certification of some sort, not all of them have the same rights and privileges. For instance, a service animal has all of the rights and privileges, maybe even more, as their handler. Emotional Support dogs and Therapy dogs on the other hand have very few privileges outside of those facilities to which they have been invited. In no case should you claim to have any of these dogs without some form of recognized training and certification. Don’t be fooled by some websites that claim they can certify your dog without even seeing it and verifying it meets the minimum standards of certification. Still some people want to take the easy road and who wouldn’t and why wouldn’t they? Well, me for one, and this is why. Introducing your dog to an environment that it is unfamiliar with or putting it in a situation where it feels threatened could turn out to cost you more that you know. Yeah yeah…. Your dog is a sweetheart and would never do anything to hurt anyone, right? Ok, do you know how your dog will react in every situation? What if it’s kicked at by a defensive passerby that has a fear of dogs? Does it scare from loud noises like a car backfire? How about a kid that wants to snuggle too close and pulls on it’s ear? I could go on and on. You might answer a few of these questions and be correct but I assure you that you don’t really know until it happens. And really…. So what if it does? Did you know that you could be held financially responsible for your dogs actions? You could lose your house, credit, friends and more with just one bad encounter. Many of the certifying agencies, like Pet Partners and Bright & Beautiful, include sizable insurance coverage and most have a very low evaluation cost and annual membership fee. The evaluator is most often a volunteer and is not compensated for his or her involvement. Moreover, you could be putting your dogs life at unnecessary risk. In some cases, the penalty could include putting your dog down. And for what? Your willingness to sidestep some simple processes. So how do you know if the certifying agency is legitimate? Ask a few questions. Starting with:
• Do you have an ongoing insurance policy that covers, me personally, my dog, and any facility I take my dog to?
• Does this sound too easy and inexpensive? If it does, it is!
• What are the specific guidelines I must follow to be covered by the certifying agency?
• Is this agency or trainer recognized by AKC as being qualified? (Let AKC do the work for you)
The unconditional love our dogs give is truly one of life’s great joys. Reciprocate some of that love by caring enough to protect the public, yourself and your best furry friend.