Therapy, Comfort, Service

THERAPY DOGS…definitions

Therapy Visitation Dogs are household pets whose owners take time to visit hospitals, nursing homes, schools, airports, and  facilities (police, fire stations, etc.). They are certified dog/handler teams that are trained to provide affection and comfort.

Therapy Dog International

 An Animal Assisted Therapy Dog, is handled by a trained professional to be a therapeutic support for individuals dealing with depression, schizophrenia, addiction, autism, behavioral issues, dementia, as well as other medical or physical conditions.

Thom Herman with his animal assisted therapy dog, Carson.

“Facility Dogs  are trained in obedience and specialty cues, and used in the work setting under the direction of the professional partner who has been trained in specific techniques which enable the dog to serve as a tool and a motivator.”

Facility dogs are trained to offer services for facilities such as schools, police departments, medical offices, etc. These dogs work regularly in the facility.

An excellent book to read if you are considering starting a dog program in your school:

Service Trained Facility Dogs. By Catherine Ricchetti

SERVICE TRAINED FACILITY DOGS: Creating a Dog Program in your Facility or Agency answers the question that other professionals are asking; “How do you get a dog program up and running in a facility or agency?” The book is an easy-to-follow step-by-step guide to beginning a facility-dog program. The book reviews the process from start to finish; covering brain research, program funding, choosing a dog, socializing, training, mistakes to avoid, and working with your dog and your colleagues to support clients young and old in different facilities.


Charlotte’s Litter

Charlotte’s Litter, a program supported by Newtown Kindness, was founded in honor of Charlotte Helen Bacon, a young avid dog lover, who tragically lost her life on December 14, 2012 in Sandy Hook, CT.  Charlotte’s Litter  seeks to connect resources and experienced people to help provide input and guidance for schools in their process of fact finding and adoption of an appropriate therapy dog program.

Their website has great resources for schools. Charlotte’s Litter

Emotional Support Dogs provide comfort and support in forms of affection and companionship for an individual suffering from various mental and emotional conditions. An emotional support dog is not required to perform any specific tasks for a disability like service dogs are. They are meant solely for emotional stability and unconditional love. They can assist with conditions such as anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder/mood disorder, panic attacks, fear/phobias, and other psychological and emotional conditions.


Service Dogs  A service dog is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability, under Title II and Title III of the ADA. Tasks performed can include, among other things, pulling a wheelchair, retrieving dropped items, alerting a person to a sound, reminding a person to take medication, or pressing an elevator button.

Training service dogs can take several years, are very costly and the wait list can be long. There are some training organizations that help you train your own service dog.

Resources for service dogs:

Here is an article that has resources for affording a service dog:


Diggity Dogs Service Dogs Inc 

At Your Service Dog Training