What’s the difference?

Woman in manual wheelchair petting her service dog

Service Dog

A dog that is specially trained to perform tasks (jobs) to mitigate the disability of a specific individual.

  • To assist or respond to symptoms that interfere with activities of daily life
  • To improve independence and access into the community
  • Permitted to accompany handler in public areas such as restaurants, stores, public transportation and hotels
Woman and child sitting in the grass petting a small size dog therapy dog

Therapy Dog

A dog that is trained to safely interact with individuals and/or groups of people at the direction of their handler.

  • To participate in interactions with people that has a positive emotional effect on them
  • To engage in goal-oriented therapy, education, and activities that are beneficial to people
  • Permitted in places where specific therapy dog programs are implemented such as schools and hospitals
Child with closed eyes laying his head on a large size dog

Emotional Support Dog

A pet dog that lives with a person with a disability to improve their mental health. Emotional support dogs do not work in public areas and are not required to have any training according to U.S. law.

  • To provide comfort and companionship in the home
  • To alleviate symptoms of loneliness, isolation, and stress
  • Permitted in “no pet” housing upon the recommendation of the person’s health professional