Both play a valuable role, and both of these roles are very different. It is important to know the difference between a therapy dog and a service dog not just because they perform different jobs, but also because you would interact with each differently.
: A service dog
is trained to provide specific medical assistance to ONE individual. Such tasks include medical alerts, mobility assistance, seeing eye for the blind, and much much more. When you see a dog that is a service dog
(as it will usually be labeled on a vest), you should NEVER talk to, pet, stare at, or distract the dog in any way. There is a very important reason for this – if you distract a service dog
, then this dog may miss a vital signal to provide a medical alert for a seizure or other episode, or miss a cue to assist with fall risk, and so on. When others distract a service dog
, they are putting the handler in jeopardy without realizing it. An individual with a service dog
, whether you can see it or not, has a disability that requires constant help from the dog. Be aware that a service dog
is not a pet, and pets are not service dogs. All dogs trained in Paws and Stripes are service dogs, not therapy dogs.
: A therapy dog
is trained to be very social with one or more individuals at one time. Therapy dogs
are taken to hospitals, nursing homes, rehabilitation centers, orphanages, and other such facilities for patients and residents to interact with the dog. They spend time with people who are ill, elderly, in recovery, or otherwise in need of comfort. Therapy dogs
are very well socialized and trained to be handled by people of all ages, sizes, and physical conditions. Thus, their job is to provide comfort to many, rather than perform specific tasks for one. Also, a dog MUST BE trained to be either a service dog or a therapy dog. A dog is not a service or therapy dog simply because someone claims it is. Certain skills, socialization, and good health (up to date vaccinations for starters) must be in place in order for the dog to be deemed a service or therapy dog.
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