SitStay | Good Dog Blog

Service Dog vs. Therapy Dog

Posted by sitstaydogs

Feb 7, 2014 3:03:40 PM


People often ask, what’s the difference between service dogs and therapy dogs? While both provide essential assistance, service dogs and therapy dogs are not one and the same. Oftentimes, these phrases are used interchangeably, but we’re here to tell you exactly how service dogs and therapy dogs are different.  

Service dogs are trained to assist individuals with specific disabilities, while therapy dogs offer joy and comfort through the kind of affection that only a dog can give. According to Assistance Dogs International (ADI), service dogs are “for people with disabilities other than those related to vision or hearing.” These dogs are trained to perform a variety of tasks, such as pulling a wheelchair, opening doors, retrieving objects, or alerting individuals to a medical crisis and providing assistance during that medical crisis, among many other things. While both service and therapy dogs provide relief and companionship, service dogs are for people with recognized mental and psychiatric disabilities.

Service dogs are covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). They are considered working dogs, not pets. This allows them to enjoy a list of benefits that includes the ability to enter restaurants, stores, and other public places and fly in the cabin of an airplane. Unlike service dogs, therapy dogs are not allowed the same privileges unless they receive special permission.

Therapy dogs are generally someone’s friendly and good-tempered pet. These dogs receive specific training that differs greatly from what service dogs go through. They often visit hospitals, nursing homes, rehabilitation facilities, and schools. Sometimes they even participate in various physical rehabilitation therapy. Therapy dogs provide love and comfort and often boost the confidence of children, students, adults, and seniors alike. Therapy dogs and service dogs often wear vests, though it isn't mandatory. 

The dogs who work as service dogs and therapy dogs are amazing animals. It’s helpful to understand the difference between a service dog and a therapy dog for a number of reasons, one being that you know how to interact with these dogs when you meet one.

If you encounter either a service dog or a therapy dog, make sure to ask before you pet. While both are friendly, both have specific jobs and tasks. As mentioned before, service dogs are working animals which often means they shouldn’t be petted. You may even see them wear service dog patches that say "Ask To Pet Me, I'm Friendly" or "Please Don't Pet Me, I'm Working". 

To both service and therapy dogs, and their incredible owners, hats off to you.


Topics: Training, Service & Therapy Dogs

Service Dogs & Americans with Disabilities Act

Posted by sitstaydogs

Nov 2, 2013 9:11:00 AM


In accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act

Businesses MAY ask two questions:

  1. Is the Service Dog required because of a disability?

  2. What work or tasks has the dog been trained to perform?

Businesses MAY NOT:

  1. Require special identification or training documentation for the dog.

  2. Ask about the person’s disability or require medical documentation.

  3. Ask that the dog perform work or tasks.

  4. Refuse admittance, isolate, segregate, or treat this person less favorably than other patrons.

A person with a disability cannot be asked to remove the service dog from the premises UNLESS:

  1. The dog is out of control and the dog’s owner does not take effective action to control it.

  2. The dog is not housebroken.

Any business that sells or prepares food must allow service dogs in public areas even if state or local health codes prohibit animals on the premises. If a business requires a deposit or fee to be paid by patrons with pets, it must waive the charge for service dogs.

Refusal to provide equal access to people with disabilities with service dogs is a federal civil rights violation provided by the Americans with Disabilities Act. Violators of the ADA can be required to pay money damages and penalties.

Questions: Call the ADA. 800-514-0301 (An agency of the US Department of Justice Civil Rights Division).

SitStay works closely with organizations throughout the US. Our service dog vests, service dog patches, therapy dog vests and therapy dog patches are meant to accompany the companionship of a certified service or therapy dog.

Topics: Service & Therapy Dogs

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