The following video was originally aired January 20, 2020 in the online facebook group “Service Dog Prep”.
If you are interested in learning if a Service Dog is right for you, a family member, or a friend make sure to join Service Dog Prep on Facebook!
We are here to talk to you guys today about what a Service Dog is. The differences between a Service Dog, an Emotional Support Animal (also known as a ESA), and a Therapy Dog. The very first one that we are interested in is the Service Dog, and a Service Dog is there to help provide support to a single person. When they are providing support
to this single person they often are helping the person live their daily life. So if you need a dog to help you go up and down stairs, if you need to get up off the floor, or prevent yourself from falling, there’s a lot of different disabilities out there such as Dysautonomia and POTS where you can potentially fall over depending on certain conditions. So Service Dogs help people live their daily lives. Training a dog to be reliable enough to take them anywhere takes a lot of intensive training. Because of this intensive training and care that these dogs require many organizations value the cost of training a single Service Dog at $60,000.
Service Dogs can take anywhere from one to two years to train fully. Usually the very first year of training a service dog is training all the basic obedience in all the possible areas that someone could possibly need. Generally the last bit of the training a Service Dog is going to be training for specific tasks to help you in your everyday life. Each dog is not going to be learning the exact same task because those tasks are specifically tailored to their owner. Service Dogs are allowed anywhere and everywhere as long as it’s safe and doesn’t cause harm to the animal, within reason.
You don’t need to register your Service Dog in the United States because the governing body of the ADA does not require you to have a certification. I know that blows a lot of people’s minds but there are actually quite a few trainers in my area that provide fake certifications for Service Dogs. They provide the “certification” under their own name. It’s not managed under the ADA governing body. These trainers only offer certifications to make people feel more secure that their dog has been “certified” even though there is no legal requirement. It’s a little scammy, a little slimy, but it makes people feel comfortable. There’s absolutely no requirement to have them certified, because you can train your dog yourself without having to go through a certification school. Don’t believe me? Check out what the ADA has to say about it. If costly certifications were required it would hurt disabled people if they had to certify their dogs. It costs more money, which you know not everybody has the extra funds.
Emotional Support Animals
The next Assistance Dog that you need to know is called an ESA, also known as an Emotional Support Animal. The requirements for an emotional support animal are that they need to have at least basic training and they are not task trained. They provide emotional support to the person but that is not a task. Emotional Support is not a task. It does not help you physically get around or live your day to day life (Sometimes what people need is a Psychiatric Service Dog, not an ESA). You don’t need specific task training for a dog to be emotional support, you just need the basic obedience if your dog isn’t well behaved. Maybe Advanced Obedience too if your dog really needs some manners. So at most you’re looking at around $500 to train your ESA dog. aYou also need a doctor’s note that “prescribes” you an Emotional Support Animal and every time you have that animal with you, you need to have that note handy.
People with ESAs tend to cause a lot of problems because they are not educated on where ESAs are allowed versus where they are not allowed. People tend to blur the lines between ESA and Service Dogs which are two completely different things. There is a lot of confusion with people’s ESAs because often times people think if they now have their doctor’s note and have gone through training they are allowed to come with them anywhere. This couldn’t be further from the truth. ESA’s are not allowed the same access rights as Service Dogs. They are not allowed in restaurants, they are not allowed in Walmart, they are not allowed any place the average pet dog isn’t allowed.
ESA’s are allowed however in these things; transportation and housing. (ESAs are covered under housing laws by the FHA) So planes, other modes of transportation, and housing, as long as your dog is well behaved and potty-trained.
The very last dog that people sometimes get confused are the Therapy Dogs. Now remember how I said Service Dogs serve one person? Somewhat of the opposite applied to Therapy Dogs. Therapy Dogs provide emotional comfort to large groups of people. So think about the dogs you see that go into hospitals, those are Therapy Dogs. Think about when you’ve heard your neighbor take their dog over to a recent place that’s been hit by a hurricane to go help provide some emotional support to those people, that’s a therapy dog. For Therapy Dog training it’s kind of in the middle of the road between a Service Dog and an Emotional Support Animal. Therapy Dogs have a higher threshold of standards than ESAs. There are organizations such as Therapy Dogs International and they are a group that have their own standards and they go out as a group to geriatric homes, and schools, they do education, they provide therapy for large groups of people.
If you want your dog to become a Therapy Dog the cost is going to be somewhere in between an ESA and the Service Dog. And again Service Dogs are about $60,000 depending where you get them from and how how much it costs to house them, feed them, care for them,j how much the trainers cost, etc.