Types of Service Dogs and How They Can Benefit You

By Kim Casey, Newburyport.Com Correspondent
Kim is a huge animal lover and proud owner of two labs. Kim is also an Internet marketer and works closely with The Beach Dog Daycare in Newburyport. She enjoys writing and researching combined with blogging. She is an independent marketer and is self-employed but being an animal lover The Beach Dog Daycare is one of her favorite clients.
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More and more people are using service dogs, but with the popularity comes a bit of confusion and the regulations seem to vary state to state. The service animal amendments keep changing and so does the confusion. The Beach Dog thought it would be helpful to give some insights on the different categories and what criteria apply to each. There are a few terms used such as Service Dogs, Emotional Support Dogs, and Therapy Dogs. All of which are wonderful ways that canines can enrich our lives. So what is a service dog, and could any of these categories benefit you? Let’s Break down the categories and rules to help simplify the types of service dogs and how they can benefit you.

Service Dogs

A service dog typically assists a person with a disability to aid in functions that a person is unable to perform. Some service dogs can aid in emergency help such as alerting to situations in a crisis or by performing tasks when a person is incapable to do so for themselves. Service dogs are trained to provide services for their owner but certification is not required if someone questions your animal. A local establishment is allowed a set of questions pertaining to your service dog, (1) is the dog a service animal required because of a disability? and (2) what work or task has the dog been trained to perform? You do not need to answer questions pertaining to your specific disability or have your dog perform any tasks proving his or her legitimacy. A service dog must, however, be obedient at all times, and groomed for public hygiene purposes.

Because of the growing trend in service dogs, it is a good option to register and have a pet ID that states your animal is a service dog. Having a vest or visual is also a good idea; this eliminates any unwanted questioning that your dog provides a needed service. While a service dog cannot be denied access to public transportation, including domestic flights which are protected through the Air Carrier Access Act, pre-registering may require documentation of some sort. Preregistration is also a good idea to avoid delays at the airport.

Listed below are some examples in which a service dog is rendered important and beneficial.

  • Mobility issues
  • Visual Impairment (blindness)
  • Hearing Impairment (deafness)
  • Seizures
  • Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
  • Diabetes
  • PTSD
  • Autism
  • Epilepsy
  • Other physical/mental disabilities

The laws that offer protection of your rights regarding service dogs are covered through Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Any breed dog can be deemed suitable for this level of service as long as they are capable of performing the duties through training. This law also protects you in any housing situation in all 50 states regardless of the landlord’s policies. The same law also allows your dog to fly for free on any domestic flight. The Department of Justice clearly defines any legal issues pertaining to service dogs in this easy to download PDF.

Emotional Support Dogs Verses Service Dogs

Emotional support dogs assist individuals with emotional or mental health issues. An emotional support dog acts as a comfort zone to his or her provider in situations that can peak strong emotional afflictions. Emotional support dogs do not require training to provide comfort. Emotional support dogs must be leashed, calm, obedient, and properly groomed for hygiene purposes in public places.

Emotional support dogs are protected through the same laws that cover a person with disabilities when the owner has a medical diagnosis. Emotional support dogs are a trickier category than a service dog because sometimes a mental health person may not appear disabled. Having a documented dog with a certification makes life easier but is not required by law.

Unfortunately, amendments to the laws are radically changing because some individuals fraudulently state the animal is for emotional support. This trending issue is blurring the lines for the true necessity of an emotional support dog. Having proper Id or certification paperwork lessons the conflict.

Below is a partial list of emotional issues that can qualify for a support dog of this type.

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Bipolar/mood disorders
  • Panic attacks
  • Other emotional/psychological conditions

Therapy Dogs are a Facility Type of Service Dogs

A  facility category of service dog typically means the dog is owned and cared for by a second or third party and is used by an organization to provide a service to a patient. Therapy dogs are often used in facilities for recovering individuals such as hospitals, rehabilitation centers, and nursing homes. Therapy dogs offer affection and comfort. Studies have shown that rehabilitating patients heal faster and with less psychological stress when therapy dogs are available to them. Below is a list of some of the therapeutic values associated with therapy dogs.

  • Lower blood pressure
  • Cause release of oxytocin, a hormone that eases stress levels
  • Reduce awareness of pain
  • Improve coordination and motor skills through petting
  • Aids in communication when verbal skills are limited
Lets Summarize Service Dogs  

So let’s sum it up the types of service dogs and how they can benefit you. A service dog is trained to aid an owner with disabilities. A service dog requires training to accommodate the person with disabilities. By law, an establishment can only ask if a person is disabled and what tasks the dog is trained to perform. Registration as a service dog is not a state requirement but Service Dog identification is helpful in public situations. An emotional support dog does not require training and also cannot be turned away for any reason. Both service dogs and emotional support dogs must be under control at all times and properly groomed for public hygiene. Having your dog registered or certified is not a legal requirement but will aid in authenticating and verifying your needs. Just as legal documentation is not required a ‘service dog vest’ is not a valid criterion for admittance to public access but may alleviate unwanted questioning. A therapy dog typically works in a facility to aid the healing and comfort level of a patient. 

If you are wondering if registering your dog is a good fit for you read,  Service Dog Registration isn’t Essential but can be Helpful. 

If you found this helpful, make sure to review other helpful blog posts from The Beach Dog Doggie Daycare.