Difference between Emotional Support Animals, Service Dogs, and Therapy Dogs

Jan 19, 2021 | Dogs, Emotional Support Animals

What exactly is the difference between an Emotional Support Animal, Service Dog, and Therapy Dog?

As per the law, Emotional Support Animals or Emotional Support Dogs won’t be requiring any sort of special training. The main objective of emotional support animals is that they have to provide emotional comfort, companionship, friendship, and be affectionate towards their owners. The whole concept of having an emotional support animal is to have emotional support, especially for people who have trouble functioning properly. Having an animal companion makes such people behave/function normally. However, it should be clarified that these emotional support animals are not to be confused with ordinary pets, as they serve a higher purpose than regular pets. Emotional Support Dogs and Cats are allowed to live along with their human companions in housing places where there is a “no pets policy” and in cabins of airplanes. For this, the owners should have had obtained an ESA letter from a licensed medical health professional.

Service dogs are known to be having excellent training so that they help their owners who have limitations such as physical impairment or blindness. Service animals can effectively push wheelchairs, guide blind people in their activities (especially outdoor), or alert other people when their owner might be having a seizure. Service dogs are qualified for accompanying their owners, no matter where they go.

Therapy dogs are also known to obtain intense training. Yet, in contrast to service dogs, therapy dogs receive training that makes them become more socially adjustable to different types of people. Therapy dogs can usually be found in certain types of places such as schools, hospitals, or communities that are known to calm people or provide healing in terms of psychology or physiology. Therapy dogs won’t be granted access that can be acquired by service dogs or emotional support dogs.


Emotional Support Animals: Most important facts that should be taken into consideration.

Emotional Support Animals, also known as ESAs, are those animals that provide companionship and comfort to people who are dealing with mental, emotional, or psychological issues. Generally, dogs or cats are the most common types of ESA companions. However, there have been some instances where other types of animals such as horse, turtle, or a rabbit might also be considered to perform the tasks of an ESA.

A person who has an emotional support animal should have a prescription to have one, which has been provided to a person by their respective doctor. A person’s psychologist, therapist, psychiatrist, or any other mental health professional having a valid license must determine that person who requires an ESA must have them so that they can be relieved from the issues that they would have to face because of their mental health condition.

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