Categories of Working, Assistance, and Therapy Dogs
It is helpful for practitioners to define working and service dogs according to their specialized function or work environment, as follows:
- Working dogs, further categorized as detection or protection animals. As the name implies, working dogs are trained to accomplish specific, defined tasks.
- Assistance dogs, categorized as either service dogs or emotional support dogs. Assistance dogs help persons with a diagnosed psychological or physical limitation who benefit from interaction with the dog. Service dogs have a specific job to accomplish, whereas an emotional support dog does not have a specific job but provides support by their presence alone.
- Therapy dogs perform either animal-assisted activities (AAA) or animal-assisted therapy (AAT). AAA dogs have been described as “happiness delivery” animals, performing duties such as hospital visits and de-stressing interactions with people. AAT dogs provide goal-directed therapy, often directed by a healthcare professional such as an occupational therapist or psychologist.
|Working Dogs||Assistance Dogs||Therapy Dogs|
|Trained to accomplish specific, defined tasks||Help persons with a diagnosed psychological or physical limitation who benefit from interaction with a dog||Perform either animal-assisted activities (AAA) or animal-assisted therapy (AAT)|
|Categories of working dogs||Categories of assistance dogs||Categories of therapy dogs|
These guidelines are supported by generous educational grants from the AAHA Foundation,
Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health USA Inc., CareCredit, Merck Animal Health, and Zoetis.