Therapy, Service Dogs and Emotional Support Dogs
Here is a great video by Zac George the explains the difference between Therapy, Service or an Emotional support dog:
Qualities of a Therapy Dog
The most important characteristic of a therapy dog is its temperament. Therapy dogs are friendly, gentle and patient, and at ease with strangers. They also enjoy human contact and excessive petting, and are comfortable around healthcare equipment. Mastering basic obedience is key to success. Great eye contact with your dog is important so that you easily have their attention in any situation. Also your dog should never pull you or another person, should you turn the leash over to them. Basic obedience is the foundation so your puppy responds to you on the first command. Your dog through training will know how to interact with positive rewards and give you their attention when needed.
Therapy animals are best known for bringing comfort, affection and happiness to people in school settings, hospitals, retirement homes, assisted living and hospices.
Training and Evaluation
Therapy dogs simply have to be obedient, tolerant, and social.
If you are unsure if your "best friend" is ready for therapy dog work, the CKC's Canine Good Neighbour Program is a good place to start.
If your dog needs additional training, check to see if a local therapy dog organization offers a training program or can refer you to one. In Canada, you can visit Canada's Guide to Dogs - Working Dogs.
You might also find this information appearing on the Pet Partners' website helpful.
Service Dogs are individually trained to preform tasks for an individual with a physical or mental disability. Family doctors are able to determine whether or not a person will qualify or benefit from a service dog. To qualify for a service dog the handlers disability must prevent them or make it difficult to perform a major life activity. Service dogs may enter into any place any person without a dog would normally be able to go. This includes, but is not limited to restaurants, grocery stores, malls, theaters, buses, taxis, trains, airplanes, motels, government buildings, parks, amusement parks, churches, etc. In addition, these public and private entities may NOT charge the disabled handler a fee because of their service animal or position or seat the handler and service animal away from other patrons to intentionally separate them. The two questions staff or an establishment may ask the person with a service dog is:
If the dog is a service dog required because of a disability
What tasks does the dog perform
Emotional Support Dogs
An emotional support dog is one that belongs to a person who is emotionally or psychologically (psychiatrically) disabled. The person’s doctor will determine if the presence of the animal is necessary for the person’s mental health and that they are considered disabled as a result. The doctor must also write a letter of prescription stating the dog is necessary for the normal day to day functioning of the disabled person. The letter must be specific in order to be accepted by property managers and airlines. Under current ADA and Fair Housing laws, an emotional support animal is ONLY protected as follows:
An emotional support animal may fly in the cabin of a commercial or private airline with their disabled handler, and the handler does not have to pay a pet or other fee. A very specific prescription letter from a licensed mental health profession is ALWAYS required by airlines, as well as advance notice in most cases that the passenger will be flying with an emotional support animal.
Landlords and property managers must make reasonable accommodations for tenants or prospective tenants with emotional support animals, even if the apartment, house, college dorm, or other residence does not allow pets. Reasonable fees may be asked of the client, similar to a pet fee. Besides requiring a letter of prescription property managers/landlords may require that the (prospective) tenant’s mental health professional complete and sign a Third Party Verification form.