• Community Therapy Dogs

Therapy Dogs Versus Service Dogs

All three categories of dog perform special work in our communities but there are some significant differences between the three types of dog.

Therapy dogs:

1) are trained to a level of obedience which covers basic commands.

2) are encouraged to be accessible to more than one person during a therapy session.

3) when out walking, the handler and dog are “off duty” and can be approached.

4) are normally family pets trained by their owners or professional dog trainers.

5) can be from any breed of dog.

6) generally cost the same amount to raise as any other dog.

7) have no more access to places in the community than regular dogs.

8) have no specific fitness or health regimes to abide by.

9) can continue working for as long as is appropriate (may vary by therapy dog group).

Service dogs:

1) are trained to a high level of obedience, with concentrated training performed by specially trained dog trainers to teach the dog to service the needs of its handler.

2) are trained to service the needs of its handler and its handler alone.

3) when in harness, is working and should not distracted by people approaching it.

4) are bred specially for helping people with disabilities.

5) tend to come from specific breeds of dog.

6) cost considerably more to raise than a regular dog because of the amount of labour-intensive training and overhead cost required.

7) are allowed access, by law, to any facility that their handlers have access to.

8) are carefully monitored for fitness levels and weight to ensure they can continue to perform satisfactorily for their handlers.

9) are normally retired from service at around 10 years of age.

Comfort/ Support dogs:

1) are trained to be supportive for people with mental disabilities, particularly PTSD, depression or traumatic stress.

2) can be any breed of dog.

3) often start life as pets but, with the right temperament and good obedience skills, become the support their owners are looking for.

4) have a one-on-one relationship with their owners.

5) have no more legal access rights than any other dog, unless the owner has a note from their doctor or psychologist stating that the dog should be with the owner at all times.

6) generally cost the same amount to raise as any other dog.

7) have no specific fitness or health regimes to abide by.

Common characteristics:

All three categories of dog:

1) have a friendly disposition and can relate to people and other dogs in a non aggressive way.

2) play a significant role in adding value to people’s lives.

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