AAHA's Working Dog Guidelines Work for You

WorkingDogGL_Nav.pngWhat’s the difference between working, assistance, and therapy dogs? Not all working dogs’ jobs are the same—and they often undergo extensive training to meet the rigorous physical and psychological demands placed upon them.

Your veterinary team can better meet working dogs’ health needs by understanding their different duties and roles. 

Learn more about how to care for these special patients in our 2021 AAHA Working, Assistance, and Therapy Dog Guidelines 


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
  • Protection dogs, such as police, military, and security dogs are trained to alert and deter human or animal threats.
  • Detection dogs are trained to sniff out specific scents, including plant, animal, human, and mandmade odors.
  • Service dogs have a specific job to accomplish.
  • Emotional support dogs have no specific job, but provide support by their presence alone.
  • 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 under the supervision of a professional such as an occupational therapist or psychologist.



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