"The Dog Knowledge Service Dog Foundation"

Helping families. Training dogs. Changing lives.

Therapy vs. Service Dog

There is a lot of confusion about the role of a Therapy Dog versus the role of a Service Dog. Simply put, a Therapy Dog is a dog trained to provide affection and comfort to people in hospitals, retirement homes, nursing homes, schools, hospices, disaster areas, and to people with learning difficulties. A good therapy dog must be friendly, patient, confident, gentle, and at ease in all situations. A Service dog is a type of assistance dog specifically trained to help people who have disabilities including visual difficulties, hearing impairments, mental illness, seizures, diabetes, Autism, and more.

Who Qualifies for a Service Dog?

When The Dog Knowledge Service Dog Foundation receives a request to consider either finding a potential service dog or training the family pet for a specific service, we begin the process by telling the clients that any dog that The Dog Knowledge Service Dog Foundation certifies for service must first produce a letter from a physician somewhat like a prescription for medicine. In the opinion of The Dog Knowledge Service Dog Foundation this letter from a physician, stating that someone has a disability and requires the specific services of a service or assistance dog is similar to someone who applies to social security for disability benefits.

What Dogs are Eligible?

As stated under the definition of a Service Dog, program-trained dogs, (dogs that have already undergone obedience training and have exhibited the characteristics required for a Service Dog) are matched with their future handler/recipient near the end of the training process. By this point, it is nearly certain the candidate dog will complete training and will become a service dog. Advanced training can last six months to one year, but a number of organizations are working to decrease the length of this phase in order to increase the service dog’s working period.