What’s the Difference Between a Service Dog and Emotional Support Dog? » PETSHORT


Service dogs and emotional support dogs can offer amazing help to people of many various backgrounds. While each of all these dogs are equally amazing, there are some major differences between the 2.

To place it most easily, service dogs provide a particular service for folks that helps them live with a disability more easily. Emotional support dogs, then again, don’t provide any specific service to an individual as a service dog does.

If the difference between these two classifications remains to be a bit confusing, don’t worry. We shall be explaining every little thing that it is advisable know concerning the differences right here in this text. 

Let’s get right to it.

Why do People Have Service Dogs?

People have service dogs to assist them manage life with a disability more easily. An incredible example of a service dog is a guide dog for the blind. The dog has learned a series of skills that ultimately allows them to guide an individual without sight around safely. They are frequently also trained to bring objects to their visually impaired owner on command.

There are more kinds of service dogs than simply guide dogs, though.

Some service dogs help those with mobility issues by giving them objects and helping them once they fall down. Other service dogs alert their owners of oncoming seizures, detecting low blood sugar or fainting spells.

So long as the dog has been trained to perform a particular task to assist a handler with a disability, they’re a service dog.

In the event you’re excited by having your dog function a therapy dog for private use, you possibly can learn more concerning the training process by following this guide on “Methods to Train Your Dog to be a Therapy Dog”.

Why do People Have Emotional Support Dogs?

What is an emotional support dog?

Emotional support dogs, also known as ESAs, help their owners as well, but this isn’t in the identical way that service dogs do.

As an alternative of being trained to perform a particular task for his or her owner, the mere presence of the emotional support dog provides their owner with comfort.

For probably the most part, emotional support dogs are reserved for those with mental health conditions akin to anxiety or depression.

What are the Differences Between Emotional Support Dogs and Service Dogs?

what is the difference between service and emotional support dogs?

There are more differences between service and emotional support dogs besides function.

Knowing the entire ways in which the 2 are different can show you how to discover if you happen to need a service dog or if you happen to need an emotional support dog as an alternative.

Below are the key differences between these two classifications.

Do you wish official registration?

Service dog: No, but specialized training is required.

Emotional support dog: Yes, a letter from a licensed mental health skilled.

Where are you able to get one?

  • Service dog: Anywhere. So long as the dog has specialized service dog training, they’re a service dog.
  • Emotional support dog: Any dog can technically be an emotional support dog.

Can they aid a disability by performing specific tasks?

  • Service dog: Yes
  • Emotional support dog: No

Can they supply emotional support?

  • Service dog: Yes
  • Emotional support dog: Yes

Are there laws protecting them?

  • Service dog: Yes
  • Emotional support dog: Yes

Do they need specialized training?

  • Service dog: Yes, training to perform the service for his or her handler.
  • Emotional support dog: No, but they need to have basic obedience training and be well-behaved

Can you are taking them into public places with you?

  • Service dog: Yes, at all times
  • Emotional support dog: Not unless they permit dogs

Can you are taking them on public transportation?

  • Service dog: Yes, at all times
  • Emotional support dog: Generally no, unless they permit dogs 

Are you able to be denied housing because you may have one?

  • Service dog: No
  • Emotional support dog: No

Are you able to be denied a stay at a hotel because you may have one?

  • Service dog: No
  • Emotional support dog: Yes (unless pet friendly)

Hopefully, this chart clears some things up.

Emotional support animals are generally higher for individuals who don’t need a dog to assist them get through certain situations or tasks. All that is required for an emotional support animal is a letter out of your mental health skilled stating you wish one.

You do not want to buy any registration to legally own an emotional support animal or service dog in the US. There are some corporations offering them for a fee, but they will not be legally essential.

Nonetheless, placing a vest on a service dog stating their purpose can show you how to two navigate the world with fewer questions.

Service Dog Vs. Emotional Support Dog Laws

As we now have mentioned previously, there are federal laws protecting each service dogs and emotional support animals in the US. Which means that these laws count irrespective of where you’re within the country.

Nonetheless, these laws are technically different and promise different rights to service animals than they do to emotional support animals.

Here’s what these laws are and what they mean to you in additional detail.

The Fair Housing Act

The fair housing act was amended in 1988 to incorporate individuals with disabilities. Which means that an individual with a service dog or an emotional support dog can’t be denied housing due to their dog. For emotional support dogs, you could have to present your letter from a mental health skilled stating your need for an emotional support animal. Nonetheless, you possibly can still be denied housing in case your dog is destructive or aggressive.

The Air Carriers Access Act

The air carriers access Act was instated within the Eighties as well, and it states that an individual with a service dog can’t be denied access to air travel. Their service dog can’t be denied access either. Which means that a service dog can sit within the cabin with their handler to supply their service.

A vital thing to notice is that the air carriers access act used to use to emotional support animals as well. Nonetheless, as of January 2021, this now not applies. Which means that weight limits and pet fees do count for emotional support dogs, and you can not take an emotional support dog onto a plane irrespective of what.

Consequently, it’s idea to at all times double-check an airline’s pet policy before traveling with an emotional support dog.

The Americans with Disabilities Act

The Americans with disabilities act is possibly a very powerful law protecting service dogs specifically. This law reinstates that those with a disability can’t be discriminated against, not even for his or her service dog.

This extends past the appropriate to housing and public transportation access.

The ADA states that service dogs also needs to be allowed in places that don’t typically allow pets akin to public stores and even restaurants. That is so long as the service dog is well behaved and never destructive.

Considering that service dogs ought to be incredibly well-trained, this shouldn’t be an issue.

Service Animal vs. Emotional Support Animal FAQs

Service dog vs emotional support dog

Are Emotional Support Dogs Certified?

There isn’t a certification needed for emotional support dogs. All you will want to have an emotional support animal is a letter from a licensed mental health skilled akin to a psychiatrist stating that you just need one. Another certification isn’t legally essential, but some people find it helpful.

Do I Need an Emotional Support Dog or a Service Dog?

That is dependent upon if you happen to would wish a dog to perform a particular task for you or not. Most individuals with physical disabilities akin to vision or hearing impairment need a service dog. The identical goes for those with invisible disabilities where their dog can alert them of an imminent health concern or those with mobility issues.

While there are psychiatric service dogs, they do still have to perform a particular service for his or her handler. For many individuals with mental health conditions, this might entail providing pressure for comfort or reminding them to take medicine. In the event you need a dog to perform a task for you, you then need a service dog. 

Emotional support dogs don’t perform specific tasks, and so they don’t require specialized training. Nonetheless, having an emotional support dog can still be extremely helpful. In case your dog provides you with vital comfort, but you do not want them to do anything for you physically, then it’s best to consider having them as an emotional support dog.

Are bully breeds good service dogs?

If properly trained and socialized, bully breeds akin to pit bulls could make excellent service dogs. It is crucial to notice, nevertheless, that some organizations and public places can have breed restrictions in place that prevent certain breeds from getting used as service dogs.

Can You Take Emotional Support Dogs Into Stores?

No, you can not take an emotional support dog right into a store unless the shop allows pet dogs. Only service dogs are allowed in public spaces that will not otherwise allow dogs. It is because oftentimes those with disabilities need their service dog with them in any respect times for his or her safety. This is the reason service dogs are protected under the ADA and emotional support dogs will not be.

Can Any Dog be an Emotional Support Dog or Service Dog?

Any dog can technically be an emotional support dog. Nonetheless, it helps to have an emotional support dog that’s well trained and socialized. It is because the laws protecting emotional support animals will be revoked in the event that they are aggressive or cause damage. At a minimum, housebreaking your emotional support dog and performing some basic obedience training is idea.

Service dogs have to receive specialized training to give you the chance to perform the specified tasks successfully. This training will differ depending on the variety of service dog. Additionally they must be calm in public and never cause safety concerns. Any dog that meets these requirements is usually a service dog.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here