Aug 6- 12 is International Assistance Dog Week, and we want to show our appreciation for all those pups out there who help their humans every day. If you have a service or therapy dog, you know how important they are. It is also important to know how to treat these types of dogs out in public if you do not own one yourself. Keep reading to find out more about these outstanding animals.
What is the difference between a service dog and a therapy dog?
The main difference between a service dog and a therapy dog is where they are allowed to go. A service dog has special training and certifications that allow them to go inside any and all buildings in order to help their owner see, hear or walk. These dogs must go through extensive training and are technically not considered “pets”. Service dogs are also often chosen by breed, where a therapy dog can be any breed. Usually breeds like labs and retrievers are used as service dogs due to their temperament, intelligence level, size and versatility.
So what is considered a therapy dog?
Therapy dogs also need to gain AKC Therapy Dog certification, but do not have the same rights. Therapy dogs are more to bring comfort and joy rather than help perform duties. You often see therapy dogs volunteering in schools, hospitals or nursing homes.
Can I pet a service dog?
Oftentimes when we see a dog out in public, our immediate reaction is to pet the dog. While all dogs are adorable, a service dog in a harness is on duty and should not be distracted. You should ALWAYS ask the owner if you can approach/ interact with the dog and keep your time limited because like we mentioned before, the dog is working. Always give a service or guide dog and their owner the right of way.
How does my dog become certified?
To find out more about how to certify your dog as a therapy dog, visit the AKC website.
To find out more about how to certify your dog as a service dog in Arizona, visit the Arizona Developmental Disabilities Planning Council website.
As always, we love to hear from our patients and to meet new ones! If you have any questions or want to book an appointment visit us online or call us at (480) 968-9275.