Tuesday, August 11, 2015

What is a therapy dog?

Last week was assistance dog week. Therapy dogs don't fall into the same category as assistance dogs, but they still perform important work, both for their handlers and others. Read on to learn more about what a therapy dog is!

A therapy dog is trained to provide comfort and affection. Many are pets who have been trained to follow their owners to nursing home, hospices, retirement homes, and hospitals. Some even live in a facility. Others have been trained to provide stress relief at airports, or to give comfort during disasters.

There are many examples of disasters where therapy dogs and their handlers have worked around the clock to provide relief to rescue workers and those affected by the disaster. The 9-11 tragedy is probably the most known - over three hundred dogs were present.

There are three basic kinds of therapy dogs:

Therapeutic visitation dogs visit hospitals, nursing homes, and other places where a visiting dog can comfort and motivate people. These are often volunteers.

Animal assisted therapy dogs assist therapists with physical and occupational therapy. They often work in rehabilitation facilities.

Facility therapy dogs live in a facility, often a nursing home, and are trained to help patients with Alzheimer’s and similar.

An important difference between therapy dogs and assistance dogs is that therapy dogs and their handlers are not currently covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act. This means that their presence is dependent on the good will of business owners and similar.

~ Maria Sadowski ~


  1. Thank you for helping to clear this up for people. MA tries to explain therapy dogs help others, service dogs help the owner who is disabled.

    1. Thank you for coming over, Carma! A lot of people confuse these two, but it's pretty straight forward once you think about it. =)