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Key Difference Between Therapy Dogs and Emotional Support Dogs - 2021 Guide

A lot of people aren’t aware of the fact that therapy and emotional support dogs aren’t the same thing. There’s a significant difference between these two types of dogs in terms of their purpose or what they’re trained to do. Let's examine some of these differences so you know which emotional support animal letter best suits your needs.

Purpose of therapy dogs

Therapy dogs are used in different facility centers to provide comfort to people and give their love and affection to them. It is scientifically proven that spending time with a therapy dog reduces blood pressure and keeps the heart rate constant. It also helps in reducing anxiety while releasing some useful hormones in the human body like endorphins which are pain relievers. Therapy dogs do not require specific training like service dogs do in order to perform certain tasks. Therapy dogs are mostly found in care homes and rehabilitation centers.

Therapy dogs are not allowed to go to public places like airplanes, markets, etc. Depending upon where the ESA letter therapy prescribed, these dogs and their handlers have to pass an evaluation test to show that they can provide therapy successfully.

Therapy dog training

If you have a dog and are curious to know whether your dog is a therapy dog or not? Then here is your answer… First of all, you need to know that not all dogs can be therapy dogs. Dogs used for therapeutic purposes should be naturally calm and peaceful. They must show affection and friendliness to strangers. They need to be obedient and in addition, they need regular checkups and grooming sessions before visiting people in rehabilitation and care homes. 

To make your dog a therapy dog, you need to follow these steps: 

  • Make your dog socialize with new people. Make him visit new places and give him new things to play.
  • Train your dog to be obedient by giving him commands and after acting upon the commands properly, give them a treat as a reward. This training is important for them so that they won’t jump and harm other people.
  • You need to enroll your dog as a therapy dog in a training session of dogs where they are trained to be therapy dogs.

Emotional support dogs

Emotional support dogs provide their owners with comfort, a peaceful presence, and good company. Emotional support dogs can’t go to all public areas without authentic documentation. Firstly, they travel along with their owners who have psychological and emotional disability. Secondly, they can’t be kept as a pet in the house. A special letter is required for residential areas that don’t allow pets. For that you need an ESA letter for housing. Therapy dogs are used in facility centers whereas esa dogs are used by a single person at a time, and they have rights too, issued by the Government. There is no formal training required for esa dogs that is why a few dogs are not very well-behaved.

ESA must be loyal to you and devoted to your response and needs. Unlike therapy dogs, ESA dogs are recommended to be around one year so that a person who adopts him should develop a good bonding with him. However, a puppy can be an esa but in that case, they need to be people-oriented. A puppy can’t be a therapy dog. Only a grown dog can be used for therapeutic purposes. 

Therapy dogs and esa dogs serve the same purposes but in different ways. The therapy dogs perform their duty in rehabilitation centers and care homes whereas the latter performs its duty at an individual level. The difference in their training, rights, and enrollment is also different.