Lately we’ve been getting a few enquiries regarding training for Therapy Dogs and Service Dogs and owners wanting to have their own ‘therapy dogs’.  After chatting it is apparent people are getting confused between the terms.  Please find below a little bit of information regarding the different types of dogs.

Therapy Dogs are pets.  They are not trained to perform any specific service for their owner/handler, instead they provide lots of love to everyone.  They are usually trained (obedience) to a high level and have proven to be of sound temperament and able to handle many situations they may come across in their work.  Therapy Dogs do not have any special ‘rights’ to access public areas dogs are not allowed.  The handler must seek approval and be invited in to areas.  I can not take Ralph and Harlow in to any area pet dogs are not allowed.  Therapy Dogs can provide social and emotional support to many people.  When Therapy Dogs are working they are allowed to receive as many pats as they can, the most important part of their job.

Service Dogs and Assistance Dogs are trained specifically to help and provide a ‘service’ to their owner. The service the dog provides is different for each owner/dog team. There are many different types of Service Dogs but the most well known are Guide Dogs, these dogs are trained for a specific job, to be the eyes for their owner, just like a wheelchair is for a person with a disability. Some other Service Dogs include Autism Assistance Dogs, PTSD Service Dogs, and Diabetic Alert Dogs just to name a few. Service Dogs can access public areas pet dogs are not allowed, they can not be denied entry to the movies for example. When Service Dogs are working they should not be petted by anyone, they are focussing on their owner and their job.

When you see a Service Dog working please respect it, admire it from a distance, and do not try to distract it or pet it whilst working.  The dog may loose focus and not realise some of the signals, symptoms etc it has been trained to pick up on from its owner.

If you are interested in training your dog to be a Therapy Dog I highly recommend contacting Mel at Lead The Way.  Both Ralph and Harlow completed the Foundation AAI and Therapy-Dog certification course.  Mind Your Paws can certainly help you with the dog training side of this course but are unable to certify any dog for this kind of work.

* Head to our Therapy Dog page on the website to find out more about what work Ralph and Harlow are doing in the community.