What’s the Difference Between a Service Dog and an Emotional Support Dog

Did you know that owning a dog can say a lot about your personality? Dogs are not just the best companions to have but they are also loyal and faithful. This might however depend on the type of breed you have.

Service and Emotional Support!
Dogs can be trained to perform and do amazing things, from protecting your crib, guiding the blind, sniffing out contrabands in airports, and much more. And in the modern world, their canine and human-loving sides make some dog breeds great at offering companionship and help to owners or humans who need it the most… sometimes even when they don’t actually need it!

But since different dog breeds may have entirely different temperaments, it so happens that some are better at providing emotional support to people with certain mental challenges, whereas others do best at helping disabled individuals navigate their day-to-day activities with ease.

This brings us to the question, how exactly does a service dog differ from an emotional support dog? Perhaps these four pointers can bring us closer to the answer!

How Service Dogs and Emotional Support Dogs Differ

Service dogs go through individual training to learn how to perform specific tasks in their lifetime. These are tasks that will benefit individuals with a disability, whether sensory, intellectual, or physical.

And in case you didn’t know, some service dogs are actually former military working dogs, meaning that they possess highly advanced training that usually takes no less than three months.

The best part is that service dogs are easy to give commands to, and they’ll follow them to the letter most of the time if not always.

Among the most popular service, dog breeds include golden retrievers, German shepherds, and Labs. Breeds like Collies, St, Bernards, and Cocker Spaniels are also becoming quite popular as service dogs these days.

Unlike service dogs, emotional support dogs do not necessarily have to undergo emotional support animal training. While it’s not a mandatory requirement, you might still find the need to enrol your emotional support dog in training classes to learn specific commands that might help provide you with the much-needed calming presence.

The kind of dog training that service dogs receive helps equip them with great tolerance skills. It, therefore, becomes easier to handle these dogs while carefully following certain approach techniques when handling them. For instance, a service dog owner needs to adapt to using non-threatening body postures and modulated voice whenever interacting with the canine fellow.

When it comes to emotional support dogs, they are well easy to handle and live with. The breeds chosen to be emotional support dogs are more gentle and docile. They are great comfort givers and are also great at following orders.

Animal Rights
Depending on your jurisdiction, a service dog may have full access to public areas, including rented homes and accommodations.

These rights give both owner and dog full access to areas where other animals are forbidden such as restaurants, stores, and no-pet-policy apartments. These rights also extend to public transportation including airlines.

There are, however, limitations to the rights an emotional support dog owner can enjoy. First and foremost, you need to certify that your dog is an emotional support dog. It’s only when you’ve qualified for the ESA letter will you get to enjoy your freedoms. This brings us to the next important point.

Owning a service dog doesn’t necessarily require an official letter to confirm ownership or the need thereof. Nevertheless, there are instances where dog owners have to register their service dogs in adherence to vaccination and local licensing rules.

On the other hand, you need some form of certification confirming that your canine friend is an emotional support dog. Commonly referred to as ESAs (emotional support Animals), will be animals solely kept to comfort owners and they’ll come with official documentation signed by a mental health professional.

This letter will certify that the dog can be used as an emotional support animal as part and parcel of a person’s treatment plan.

The terms service dogs and emotional support dogs have for so long been used interchangeably. But as you can see, there’s a huge disparity between the two. The above pointers will probably help you determine the type of dog to own that will be ideal for your specific needs.

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