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Working Dogs

Therapy dogs provide a one-of-a-kind service to individuals in need of comfort and support, but there are also other types of working dogs and dog teams that provide very specific types of support in their communities. Knowing the distinction between the different types of working dogs and teams is critical.

For more information, read Working Dogs Comparison Chart.

Service Dogs

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) states that a Service Animal is any animal that has been individually trained to provide assistance or perform tasks for the benefit of a person with a physical or mental disability which substantially limits one or more of the person’s major life functions.

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Therapy Dogs

Therapy dogs provide psychological or physical support to individuals other than their handlers. They visit and participate in programs at schools, hospitals, nursing homes, assisted living facilities, hospice organizations, and more.

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Military Working Dogs

Military working dogs are dogs that are trained to assist in armed forces efforts. They are used for improvised explosion device (IED) detection and security protection. Military working dogs provide support directly to the military and are considered active duty personnel.

Police Dogs

Police dogs (or K-9 units) are dogs that are trained to assist police and other law-enforcement personnel in their work, such as searching for drugs and explosives, searching for lost people, looking for crime scene evidence, and protecting their handlers.

Search & Rescue Dogs

Search and rescue dogs are dogs that are trained to use scent to locate missing people during a wide variety of situations, such as natural disasters, mass causality events, or in a missing persons’ case in law-enforcement.

Detection Dogs

A detection dog or sniffer dog is a dog that is trained to use its senses (almost always the sense of smell) to detect substances such as explosives, illegal drugs, chemicals, insects, diseases, or blood. Search dogs that search for missing humans are generally not considered detection dogs.

Emotional Support Animals

Although not technically a working dog, emotional support dogs are dogs that provide emotional comfort directly to their handlers. Individuals with depression, loneliness, and the elderly often benefit from a personal emotional support dog.

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"I think dogs are the most amazing creatures; they give unconditional love. For me they are the role model for being alive."
- Gilda Radner

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