Dogs With A Job To Do


For most dogs, an average day includes napping on the couch, chasing squirrels and going for a walk around the neighborhood. However, there are some dogs that are used for more than just companionship. Nowadays, dogs perform all kinds of tasks including guiding the blind, sniffing out bombs, search and rescue and more.

So what’s the difference between service dogs, therapy dogs, emotional support dogs and working dogs? Read on to learn about the differences and to find out the rules for approaching these dogs. 

Service dog

A service dog has been specially trained to help individuals with disabilities. These dogs are certified and protected through the Americans with Disabilities Act and are allowed entrance to places that companion dogs are often not allowed. Service dogs include guide dogs, hearing dogs, mobility assistance dogs, diabetic alert dogs, seizure detection dogs and more. It is best to refrain from petting a service dog because it can distract them from their job. 

Therapy dog

A therapy dog visits schools, nursing homes, hospitals and other places. Being visited by dogs has positive psychological and physiological effects on people. Therapy dogs are used for companionship and have a much different skill set than service dogs so they don’t receive the same privileges. The owners of therapy dogs often encourage people to pet their dogs, but always ask for permission before petting any dog. 

Emotional support dog

An emotional support dog’s specific job is to bring comfort to their owner. The animal must be prescribed by a mental health professional and doesn’t require any special training. While service dogs are granted access to restaurants and stores, emotional support dogs do not receive those same privileges. Emotional support dogs may vary in temperament so always ask permission before approaching and petting. 

Working dog

A working dog is a dog bred and trained to perform a job that helps humans such as search and rescue dogs, police dogs and explosives detection dogs. A working dog wears a vest when they’re working and you should not approach the dog because they have a job to perform. If a working dog is not wearing a vest, you can ask its handler if you may pet the dog.

Regardless of whether a dog is a service dog, therapy dog, emotional support dog, working dog, or just a regular companion dog, you should always give them their space and ask for permission before petting. While your pup at home may be a big snuggle-bug, these dogs have a job to do and it’s best to leave them to it. 

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