What is the difference between a therapy dog and a service dog?

Animal-Assisted Therapy Dogs

Service dogs are trained to perform specific tasks to assist someone who has a disability. They keep them safe and support their independence. In contrast to therapy dogs, who often work with various individuals or groups of people and are usually handled by a therapist or a volunteer handler, service dogs only work with their owner or handler and form a special bond with them. Sometimes they are provided to the person in need at no cost.

Service dogs help people with visual impairments, deafness or hearing loss, autism or mobility limitations, whereas therapy dogs are used in a therapeutic context as part of a treatment plan. Therapy dogs and emotional support dogs are not considered as service dogs.

One of the ways therapy dogs help people is by being petted. Service dogs are usually not petting- animals, as this would prevent them from doing their job properly. Most service dog handlers and owners have a no-petting policy.

People with disabilities have the right to be accompanied by their service dog in public places such as hotels, shops and restaurants. This also applies to public transport. There are no such rights for therapy dogs.