Glossary of Terms

dog and human hand

Glossary Of Terms

There are lots of different terms for assistance animals which can be confusing. Here are the main ones:

Assistance dog / Service Dog

A service dog is a pet that has been trained in specific skills to aid or assist a person. Examples include guide dogs for the blind or partially sighted and hearing dogs. Over time service dogs’ roles have expanded and now also include assistance for a range of conditions including mobility issues, diabetic / epileptic seizures, and psychiatric illnesses.

Emotional Support Animal / Emotional Support Dog

Emotional Support Dogs do not need to have had specific training related to the handler’s disability, although some may do. Their primary role is to provide companionship and emotional support. Because of this the role of Emotional Support Dog does not qualify as a service animal under United States Law, although they do enjoy some legal privileges with regards to domestic air travel and housing.

Therapy Dog

A therapy dog is a dog trained to provide affection and comfort to people in need or suffering from emotional trauma. They are used in hospitals, retirement homes, nursing homes, schools, by counsellors and also help people with learning difficulties or those who’ve been in stressful situations such as disasters.