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

Cool Summer Fun

Posted by sitstaydogs

Jul 23, 2013 1:59:00 PM


We have all heard the warnings of summer heat and your dog…avoid outdoor activities during the mid-day hours, provide plenty of water, never leave your dog in a car… but without activity, dogs that just sit in the house all day can become bored and look for their own ways to “entertain” themselves. But what to do in the heat of summer? With a little creativity, there are many safe and entertaining activities to keep your dog busy during the hot summer weather.

Nose work: teach your dog to find objects. Once a dog gets the idea of “go find” and they understand to use smell to do it, it quickly becomes a favorite game. It can be played both inside and outside without a lot of exertion.sanddog

Smell walks: Give your dog the opportunity to explore on his own on a low-key, low speed walk to “stop and smell the roses”. Unlike your normal walk when you have a destination and a time frame, just let him wander and explore with his nose.

Sandbox: a small sandbox with wet sand can be a hide and seek haven for a playful dog. Wet the sand to keep it moist and cool and hide toys for your dog to find.

Training or brain games: using his brain is tiring to a dog just as aerobic exercise is. Do some manners or other training with your dog inside to spend their excess energy. Remember to make it fun for both you and the dog.

Keep your dog cool & exercised, summer dog days can be fun!

Joann Neve, CPDT-KA, M. Ed
Packleader Behavior & Training


Topics: Wellness, Training

What to do about whining?

Posted by sitstaydogs

Jul 23, 2013 1:11:00 PM


Whining is one doggie behavior that can really drive humans crazy! The natural inclination is to try and make the dog stop it. Unfortunately, most people try to accomplish this by punishing the behavior. The fact is that some dogs can’t help it, and probably don’t even realize that they are whining.

Rather than trying to punish the behavior away, it is essential to determine WHY the dog is whining and remedy the situation. Whining can be the result of several different things: pain, fear, anxiety, needs, and finally wants.

The solution to the first problem - pain - is obvious, an immediate vet check is in order. Global fear of things and generalized anxiety should be evaluated by a Behavior Counselor who can give case specific suggestions and may suggest a Vet visit as well. If the dog is whining for something that he needs (i.e., a potty break or a drink) you must attend to that immediately. Whining for wants on the other hand require some good old fashioned impulse control! Teach the dog to be patient, and quiet, to get what he wants!

What tactics have you used to problem solve whining?

Share it in on our Facebook page! > 

Elisabeth Catalano, M.A., CPDT, CDBC
Director of Behavior and Training

The Coventry School, Inc.


Topics: Wellness, Training

Not-so-Ho-Hum Training

Posted by sitstaydogs

Jul 23, 2013 12:52:00 PM


When you attend an obedience training class, most, if not all, trainers will tell you that you must practice frequently with your dog. Some will even get specific and tell you that you need to practice at least 10 times a day for a period of 2 to 5 minutes each time (and this is very good advice).

However this is where the problem comes in and things start to fall apart for the owner. Basic training, sit/down/stand/stay/etc, is pretty boring stuff…boring for you and for the dog. These are the kinds of things that make it difficult for dog parents to follow through with work at home and therefore lead to less desirable results from the training class.

What if I told you, however, that your at-home sessions need not be so boring? Not only don’t they have to be, but they shouldn’t be. If you and the dog are not having fun, learning is not happening. So why not make it fun? There are many games and activities that can teach and reinforce teaching to give you solid reproducible, predictable results with your dog.

nothohumtrainingWorking on recall? How about playing hide and seek with your dog? When you make a game of it, your dog LOVES to hunt you down to find you (especially if you are out of sight or move quickly away from him). You can even go so far as to teach your dog YOUR names and use this and recall to have him deliver messages attached to his collar to the other humans in the house.

Teaching stay with distractions? Once he has the idea, the old Monkey in the middle is excellent for stay and self-control (just make sure he gets the ball every once in a while so he can have fun too).

How about loose leash walking (LLW)? Make a maze with chairs and other household objects and have your dog follow you through the maze. If you can teach him to stay by your side without a leash and add distractions to that, Lose Leash Walking is almost a given.

Also, never be comfortable that your dog has learned it all. Every and any skill can always be taken to the next level, be made harder and practiced while having fun. Adding distractions, combining skills, and placing the skill in a new situation will all present a challenge for your dog. For example, if you have taught your dog to sit, can they do it with the kids running around? Can they do it at the dog park? Can they do it at a distance? Can they do it while they are in motion on their way to you?

There are many games you can play or make up to have fun teaching your dog even the basics of self-control, position changes, and just about anything you want. Use the Net to search training games, make them up yourself, or find a trainer that uses these methods and can help you. The important thing is that you are having fun with your dog. While you are doing so, you will also be increasing his “education”.

What training tips and tricks have you used?
Share it in on our Facebook page! >

By Joann Neve, CPDT-KA

Pack Leader Behavior & Training   |


Topics: Wellness, Training

Praise to the Gentle Leader

Posted by sitstaydogs

Jul 22, 2013 10:39:00 AM


The Gentle Leader is a special collar that fits on a dog’s head, much like a halter on a horse.It’s one of my favorite training tools, and also one of the most misunderstood among both the general public and professional trainers.

I use the Gentle Leader for every foster dog who comes through my doors, and it’s rare for a dog not to be as comfortable wearing it as a regular flat collar within 2 days. The secret? I put the Gentle Leader on before pleasant things (mealtime, walks, playtime, Kong time, etc), and take it off when the pleasant activity is finished. I also ignore any pawing. I find that many owners unintentionally reward this pawing because they pay attention to it. My dogs are trained to stick their noses through the nose loop of the Gentle Leader as soon as I hold it out, and they do this happily because they know it means good things are going to happen.

So, why do I like the Gentle Leader? For me, this management tool makes the training process quicker and more effective. If I can control my dog’s head, I can control my dog’s focus. I’m able to redirect him if he becomes focused on a squirrel, another dog, or a biker outside. I’m able to teach him right from the start to walk on a loose leash, not to bark, and to sit politely for greetings. There’s a reason veterinary behavorists and well-known professional trainers use Gentle Leaders with their own and clients’ dogs. They work. They’re humane. They’re effective. They save owners time and prevent dogs from engaging in bad behavior until the dog is trained.

The Gentle Leader is a must-have for working with aggressive or reactive dogs, but I also use it in basic training with all puppies and adolescents, or with untrained or strong adults. There are so many uses! A Gentle Leader and drag-line in my house allows me to teach house manners quickly and easily.

My goal is always to train every dog to a point where he doesn’t need any equipment (including a collar or leash). I find that the Gentle Leader is a great place to start the training process, but I don’t stop there. I work with the dog and teach him to walk nicely on leash, ignore distractions, and greet people politely. Once he knows these skills, we fade the Gentle Leader and the dog instead wears a flat buckle collar on his neck. I could certainly teach these skills on that flat collar to start with, but I find that dogs just learn faster with the Gentle Leader, and it’s easy enough to fade.


Topics: Training, Uncategorized

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