What’s The Difference Between a Service Dog, Therapy Dog, and an Emotional Support Dog?

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SOURCES

ADA Requirements: Service Animals

Service Dog

Right to Emotional Support Animals in “No Pet” Housing

Fair Housing Act

Air Carrier Access Act

Assistance Dogs International: ADI Guide to Assistance Dog Laws

Mader, Bonnie, Lynette A. Hart, Bonita Bergen. (1989). Social Acknowledgments for Children with Disabilities: Effects of Service Dogs. Child Development 60.6 doi:10.2307/1130941
www.jstor.org/stable/1130941

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48 Comments on “What’s The Difference Between a Service Dog, Therapy Dog, and an Emotional Support Dog?”

  1. I’m currently working on a law dissertation on the subject of service animals. I love the way that you have very clearly outlined the laws around these different statuses. If you’re curious there are a few articles out there that outline a lot of the changes that should be coming to this area of the ADA. In addition, many states have recently enacted laws that allow them to prosecute individuals that impersonate service animals in public accommodations. Also to more thoroughly understand the Department of Justice’s definition of “individually trained” I recommend looking at some of the case law surrounding this issue. Some good ones would be Lentini v. California Center for the Arts, Escondido or Storms v. Fred Meyer Stores Inc. Another important issue would be the constitutionality of excluding emotional support animals under the ADA, because their handlers meet the definition of “disabled” under the ADA. It will be interesting to see if this ever makes it to the Supreme Court and is overturned. Thanks for such an education video Zak!

  2. I’m glad to see this topic properly presented! There has been too much confusion on proper definitions between the three designations. Great job!

  3. I have been watching your channel ever since we found our little furbaby Bella. I must say I am so excited you made this video. I am a young disabled mom of 2 with over 13 surgeries and counting and a survivor of cancer. My conditions began effecting me in my mid 20s,(5yrs And counting now) so the changes were rapid and hard to deal with. I lost my first dog because my condition sped up to where I couldn’t take care of myself and it was unfair to our little Charlie (a wonderful but very hyper pit mix who needed exercise daily as any other dog would too.) I’m happy to say I am in remission now and one year surgery free from the other conditions. Life is getting better and I took this time of health to find Bella. She is an aussie/husky breed. Your videos have inspired me to begin her training at home and they have all worked! I have trained Bella solely using your videos! This made it possible for her to actually become service dog Trained. The cost of getting a service dog was overwhelming for us. Being able to do all of her initial training helped us enormously. They only had to train her for my specific needs which was far easier finacially. My conditions are fatal and incurable, so having Bella really is life changing. Training her at home has also pulled me out of a terrible depression as well. I guess you can say my service dog became my therapy dog! Lol
    So, we would like to say from myself, my family and bella, thank you so much for all your videos!!!!!

    1. MyWifi IsMyLife you’re correct. I meant to say trained. Thank you for your correction though! There is a lot of misinformation out there and I do not wish to add to the problem! 🙂 She really is an amazing friend and I am so lucky to have her! Thanks for your comment I do appreciate it.

  4. thank you thank you thank you loved the video and how accurate it was. I am waiting for my Service Dog candidate litter to be born and am already learning so much from your videos. I should be getting my puppy sometime in the spring. I love that you mentioned the commitment for a service dog because some people don’t realize the training we put into our dogs. thank you again.

    1. I am owner training. Lol I don’t know if i would call it self training because I am getting tips help and advice from professional dog trainers as well as watching Zak’s videos and listening to other service dog handlers that have had to train the same types of tasks as i need to. I am not going thru a program for various reasons.

    2. This is still Dawn update puppy was born in late jan and had been home about 2 months now. Hes doing really goods minus some puppy biting but we are unseing your vid to fix that

    3. I’m looking to get a puppy and train it as a service dog for my anxiety disorder. I would like to train it myself, but other than extensive training, what else would I need to do to get it registered? Do I NEED a doctor’s recommendation?

  5. I saw this video pop up and I paused wondering how mad this video was going to make me.
    As a service dog handler I have heard the “service dog registration” question so many times. And even big dog trainers like CM have registered their dogs.
    I loveed the video. The information was correct, and covered everything equally and accurately.

    Thank you so much.

    1. S Kendall ” You obviously don’t know anything about dog training. Ceaser Millan is a fantastic dog trainer!

  6. This was a great video! I have a service dog and the questions or comments I receive most often are: How did you get one / how can I get a service dog? What I think should really be emphasised to people who are considering owning is how much work a service dog requires. Are you prepared to to extensive research on local laws and regulations, as well as what breed/characteristics would be most suitable for the tasks you need your dog to preform? Can you provide extensive training (as much as several hours a day) either yourself or by hiring a professional? Are you prepared to plan your day out extensively and ensure your dog has adequate excersise before outtings so he can preform his tasks calmly and competently? How about when you plan a specific outing and end up having to leave because a lady would not stop her children from trying to run over your dog with a stroller even after being confronted about it politely? How would you handle losing months of training to one person bringing their untrained dog into a coffee shop and letting it off leash to “say hi” in the middle of the busy restaurant? Can you handle staff and other customers comments about your physical appearance and whether or not you should have a service dog? Without my dog I would not be able to go out in public safely, but owning one requires a complete change in lifestyle and an enormous amount of patience and knowledge. It is not for everyone 🙂

    1. Amen, I’m a puppy raiser for a local guide organization and can only say that every situation you’ve been in I can identify. Just wanted to say God Bless and hang in there. I can only say sorry for the ignorant (or arrogant) people out there.There is more of us who try to do the right thing then there is the other.

    2. retdep thank you so much for your well wishes. 🙂 You are right about ignoring negativity, my quality of life has increased greatly despite the setbacks I’ve gotten. I wouldn’t trade my dog for the world now that I know the difference he’s made. Hopefully those who read my comment gain a bit of insight on the effort involved in having a working animal versus a pet.

  7. I don’t have a service dog but do have depression. I used to think a dog for emotional support was a joke…but my little aussie saved me…I realized the difference they make. I don’t know how I will function without him now. He is only 6 months and still training. I don’t even know how he gets trained for service dog. I just thank God I have him now.

    1. Sorry to hear you are suffering from depression I am glad to hear your wonderful dog is helping though. Please,please,please don’t just buy an emotional support dog certificate from some phony on line vendor. Please seek out a support dog training organization near you. Your dog will do more for you than you ever thought possible. Your dog will be more alive than ever with true training and support. Both of you will reap the benefits.God bless.

    2. Janice leatham Your comment confuses me?
      Service dogs are trained for people who are disabled and do multiple tasks for their handler only

      Emotional support dogs provide comfort to their owner but require no training and don’t have public access

      And Therapy dogs help other people, and go to hospitals, nursing homes and sometimes schools

    3. I guess i just meant mine is not certified to be for emotional support. I just realized he helped me tremendously when i got him and began working to train him. Sorry just a statement on my part. Didn’t mean to confuse anyone just saying i just realized they really make a big difference.

    4. Janice leatham Your dog is not a therapy dog. Therapy dogs do not work for individual people, they only work in hospitals, schools and nursing homes.

    1. Also, don’t talk to, wave at, feed, make kissy sounds, call over, take photos/videos of…. in other words, do not distract the dog in any way, please. I tell more humans to “LEAVE IT” than I do my service dog! 🙂 Thanks for the coment!

    2. Or bark, or make rude comments to the handler. And teach your children to never pet any dog without asking. And don’t pitch a hissy fit when told no. We should write a rulebook to hand out! 🙂

    1. Yep, people who have no problem at all, think that they can do this and have their own service dog with out having and real medical problems.

  8. I’m so grateful that you made this video. I’m training my own service dog right now and love to watch informational videos about them and it just made my day that this popped up in my subscription box and I didn’t even have to search for it like I normally would have to for a video like this

  9. can i just say how thankful i am for this video ive had people bring their pets into stores and say they are service dogs and they have attacked my service dog or just straight out been out of control i once almost got kicked out of a store because of someone else’s dog attacking my service dog, thank you so much for making this video and putting your voice out there for us

  10. Thank you for getting the differences spot on! Many trainers and informational media outlets get it all wrong, and false service dogs are a big hassle to those of us that require these smart guys to help us out. Sadly, what’s more troubling are the many strangers that distract our working animals by touching, calling and some even stalk and taunt us. This is actually a federal crime due to the fact that the dog can miss a que and we could have an episode, get a seriously injure or even be killed! All because people have no impulse control and can’t read the large patches stating that the dog shouldn’t be distracted at all. I’ve gone to the hospital before when my dog was distracted and I’m not the only one. Great vids!

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