Service, Emotional Support, Therapy Work, Medical Training

Service dog in front of owner

Understand the difference between a service dog, therapy dog, and an emotional support animal!

First you need to understand the difference between a medical / service dog, a therapy dog and an emotional service dog. Each “type” of trained dog gives you access to different things. Please make sure you understand the difference, the amount of time its going to take to get there, and the cost of the training involved.


Medical / Service Dog Training:

Involves an extensive training process to ensure the dog meets state requirements to be certified as a service dog. You MUST have a legal reason to have a service dog for this and must be determined by a professional (Medical doctor). The ADA defines a service dog as the following, “Service animals are defined as dogs that are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities. Examples of such work or tasks include guiding people who are blind, alerting people who are deaf, pulling a wheelchair, alerting and protecting a person who is having a seizure…

  1. Time involved of training a service dog can range from 1 year – 3 years.
  2. Cost of training a service / medical dog can range from $25,000 – $45,000
  3. Depending on your necessity a service dog will be permitted to accompany you to public places, can’t be denied to live with you, can go on airplanes, etc.



Therapy Dog Training: 

Is for individuals who would like to certify their dog to be used as emotional support FOR OTHER PEOPLE. Therapy Dogs provide comfort and affection to people in hospitals, schools, elderly / retirement homes, mental health institutions, etc. If you have a well-mannered dog (any breed) and are looking to give back to the community and volunteer your time and dog, then this is the route for you!

  1. Time involved of training a therapy dog: Approximately 1 year
  2. Cost of training a therapy dog can range from $10,000 – $25,000
  3. The only added place you can take your dog will be hospitals, elderly homes, mental health institutions, schools, etc.
    • Access to each place will also be dependent on the locations requirements



Emotional Support Dogs:

Emotional support dogs are for individuals that would need their dog for their own personal emotional support. Emotional support necessity will be determined by a professional (doctor / psychiatrist / mental health counselor). Emotional dogs will cover needs such as PTSD, depression, suicide, autism, etc. These dogs will provide comfort, companionship and affection. The ADA does NOT consider emotional support dogs that only provide people comfort as service dogs! If your medical professional and you determine that your dog needs to complete certain service dog tasks, then you must look into service dog training. Otherwise, emotional support dogs in themselves do NOT guarantee you access for housing, public places, etc. Emotional Support Dog training is solely for your benefit in your home.

  1. Time involved of training an emotional support dog can range from a few months – 1 year
  2. Cost of training an emotional support dog can range from $7,500 – $25,000
  3. Necessity of having your emotional support dog will depend on your level of necessity and what has been determined by your doctor / psychiatrist. Access usually only involves living situations and not being denied by a landlord.




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