top of page

The Service Dog & Therapy Dog Difference

Updated: Aug 21, 2023

The terms “therapy dogs & service dogs” are commonly misused. They have opposite meanings: Although service and therapy dogs alike must demonstrate exceptional obedience and calm demeanors, therapy dogs are trained to interact with other people besides their owner. Service dogs are trained to aid a specific person and that individual’s disability.

Therapy dogs visit public places like nursing homes, schools, retirement homes, and hospitals to bring comfort to everyone around. Having a therapy dog is a rewarding volunteer experience! Before a therapy dog is allowed to visit a public vicinity not typically allowing dogs, owners are usually required to show a Therapy Dog Training Certificate. This makes sense, given the sensitivity of hospitals, schools, & other facilities allowing a "pet" dog to enter. Therapy Dogs (and Emotional support Dogs) are not covered by Dog Laws under the Federal Housing Act or Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), therefore not allowed public access rights.

Service dogs aid a specific person with a disability. This could be by helping the handler in various ways, from helping the handler gain independence by pulling a wheel chair, to mental therapeutic benefits. Service dogs are not supposed to be petted by others (it could distract the dog from its duty to the handler). Only service animals are the exception to a “no dogs allowed” rule in public places & ARE covered by the Fair Housing Act and ADA. Currently, The Traveling Dog Trainer focuses our Service Dog Certificate on mental health disabilities, such as PTSD, Depression, and Anxiety.

Although not required, your doctor can write a “prescription” for you to get a service dog. I recommend this in case (& hopefully you don’t) ever have to go to court in regards to a service dog complaint. Proper training is crucial. Under the ADA, Service Dogs in Training do not get the same privileges as a Service Dog until their training is complete. (Note: Not every dog has the temperament it takes to be a service or therapy dog).

The Traveling Dog Trainer LLC offers Service Dog Training and Therapy Dog Training by either:

1. We can evaluate your current dog


2. We can match and provide a qualified dog for your specific need.

For Therapy & Service Dog Certificates alike, we provide 1 on 1 private lessons in home and in public places. Lessons last 45 minutes and we typically meet once a week. After training, a Certificate is awarded, and lifelong “touch up” lessons for your dog included. We want you to succeed with your dog together, forever.

Contact us today if you’d like more information. Thanks for reading!


125 views0 comments


bottom of page