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Difference between Therapy Dog and Service Dog

Posted by Susan Bero on

It’s easy to get a therapy dog and a service dog confused. So, what’s the main difference between them?

A service dog performs specific tasks that they were individually trained for to help someone who has a condition that substantially impacts their mental or physical ability. Of course, some of these conditions are not visible such as being deaf or blind. Usually, to get a service dog, one must submit an application to a service dog training organization. These are often nonprofits that specialize in service dog training and matching them with owners. Once this application is submitted, there is a waiting period between 1-5 years. Once you get your service dog placement, a training period is required. This helps you get acquainted with the dog and vice versa. This usually requires that you stick with the dog 24 hours a day and go on various outings such as movies, restaurants, parks, etc. Some organizations will even pay for dogfood and vet visits, but this decision is based on financial need.

As for therapy dogs, there are two types. AAA (animal-assisted activities) are therapy dogs that are strictly to enhance quality of life and can be administered by volunteers and para-professionals. Animal-assisted activities are typically seen in the form of library or school visits where interaction with the therapy dogs provide a calming effect.  AAT (animal-assisted therapy) is more clinical and used by a trained, health provider. The therapy dogs under this category are used as an integral part of the therapeutic healing process.

So there you have it! Therapy dogs and service dogs are not quite the same. Service dogs are more focused on the particular needs of the individual and helping them with daily tasks. Therapy dogs will typically be seen in group environments or in use with therapeutic healing processes. Either way, Greyhounds are fantastic choices for therapy dogs and service dogs.


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