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Types of Working Dogs

For hundreds of years dogs have been helping people by assisting in hunting and retrieving game as well as offering protection. Today dogs are used to aid people with balance, site and cognitive issues. Returning soldiers and trauma victims find solace with their trained dogs. 

Therapy dogs are helping children practice reading skills and providing relief from loneliness in hospitals and nursing homes. Search and rescue dogs save lives in disaster areas. A dog can be much more than a beloved member of the your family. 

Thanks so much. I want to say you are a really special person, and I’m so lucky to find someone that is such a great trainer for Dewey and also so honestly understanding of how hard mental health can be. The work you do is amazing!


The Private Training and Day Training services are offered at $150 per hour, payable by check or cash. Basic Training requires a commitment to at least four sessions ($600) in order that you and your dog have the best opportunity to succeed.

Working Dogs:What Access Do They Have?

Types of Working Dogs - by Jean Cary, Service Dog Tutor

Service Animals: Dogs and Miniature Horses (used for mobility) are the only animals recognized by the ADA as service animals. The dog must be specifically trained to do tasks directly related to his owner’s disability. These must be tasks that the owners cannot do for themselves. Examples of the tasks are reminding the owner to take a medication, alerting to a fire alarm or doorbell, retrieving medication, carrying or retrieving objects, providing mobility support, etc. Training a service dog takes 6 mo. to 2 years depending on the dog’s previous level of obedience training and temperament. Service animals learn to focus on their owners in highly distracting environments and still perform their tasks. They are allowed access to transportation, stores, restaurants, hotels and theaters, hospitals, offices and schools. The service dog is not required to wear an identification tag or vest, but it is to the owner’s advantage to have his dog clearly identified as a service animal to prevent interference from the public as the dog performs his duties. A service animal must not bark, eat from the table, sit on chairs, shopping carts, or interact with people other than his owner.

Emotional support dogs: These dogs provide comfort to people with high anxiety to cope with social situations.These dogs do not qualify as service dogs because they are not trained for any specific task but merely provide comfort by their presence. These dogs and their owners are not allowed full public access (restaurants, grocery stores,etc.) as provided by ADA regulations. Airlines, schools and some rental units will allow these dogs access in some instances. (Psychiatric service dogs are trained with interruptive tasks and are service dogs.) San Mateo and Santa Clara counties do not recognize emotional support dogs as service dogs.

Therapy Dogs: These are family dogs who have passed intermediate obedience training, Canine Good Citizenship testing as well as temperament testing by a vet. Then they undergo additional training dealing with stranger handling, focus around other dogs, positive safe interactions with children, the elderly and the disabled. These dogs have an outward focus on other people and possess outgoing personalities. It may take six months to a year after the dog has passed intermediate obedience training to complete the training to visit patients in hospitals, schools, libraries, jails and nursing homes to alleviate loneliness and foster social interaction. They are not service dogs and do not have the right to access to restaurants, stores and other places where dogs are not allowed.

Persons presenting their dogs as service animals when the dogs have not completed the requirements above are subject to a several hundred dollar fine and are breaking a federal law. Buying a vest or tag on the internet does not allow you to refer to your dog as a service dog and take him everywhere.


The best way to judge a service dog is by his behavior. He should be calm, focused on his owner and be unobtrusive in public settings.

The only two questions you can ask a person who has a service dog before granting access are:

   1. Is that animal required because of a disability?

   2. What task is that animal trained to perform?

For more articles on training service dogs to help with PTSD, Autism and mobility challenges

please go to  Articles and Resources

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