Ever wondered what the difference might be between emotional support dogs and service dogs?
If so, you came to the right place.
No doubt: dogs have come a long way from being just a domesticated animal. They are not simply pets, but they have become an integral part of our society.
Today, we have two of the most important roles that dogs play – being an emotional support dog and a service dog. Knowing the difference between these terms could help you determine which one is the best choice in any given situation.
Emotional Support Dogs
An Emotional Support Dog (ESD), as its name suggests, provides emotional support. They offer various therapeutic benefits such as providing comfort, promoting a calm environment, relieving stress, preventing anxiety, decreasing depression, and others.
In most cases, a physician or mental health professional determines whether a person needs an ESD or not. They write a medical letter, which is then given to an ESD provider.
It is worth noting that Emotional Support Dogs are not like service animals. One main difference is that they have limited public access rights. If ever you need to bring your ESD with you in airplanes and other usual no-pet-allowed areas, you can present your medical letter and prescription.
For a dog to become an ESD, there’s no particular training needed. However, the dog should be responsive to emotions and commands. They should also be gentle and not aggressive dogs.
Service Dogs, on the other hand, are generally not considered as a pet. Of course, there’s no restriction to do so, especially when you grow to love and care for your service dog.
A service dog is trained to do specific tasks for a person's disability. They mainly help their owners to perform activities of daily living such as getting out of the bed, standing, and walking.
These dogs are trained to pull a wheelchair. They can even help patients to monitor and take their medications as needed. They are also trained to pick up the phone, press the elevator button, get a glass of water, and pick up a letter on the mailbox, just to name a few.
Perhaps, one of the most common tasks of service dogs is to serve as a guide to people who are visually impaired. You might also think of service dogs who help people who suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorders (PTSD).
Service dogs are covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). With this in mind, there are certain rules and regulations that are applicable to service dogs. For example, a business establishment should not refuse the entry of a service dog for the benefit of its owner.
Some service dog owner dresses up there pooch in a vest, special tags, and collars. However, it is not mandatory. Just be sure to bring with you medical documents and legal certifications that your dog is no ordinary dog, but he is there to perform certain tasks for you.
Getting the Right Dog for the Right Role
Generally speaking, any dog can be an emotional support dog, but not everyone can become a service dog. Since there are specific tasks that a service dog should do, a small dog might not be sufficient for the job. The most preferred service dogs include Labrador retrievers, golden retrievers, and German shepherds.
Emotional dogs and service dogs indeed differ from each other. Depending on your needs, you would benefit much from these noble dogs.
While they are dogs that perform special tasks, they are still dogs who deserve our respect, care, and love.
If you want to know more about these dogs, speak to your healthcare provider or vet.
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