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Type: Dog Types

Emotional Support Animal

According to the National Service Animal Registry website, an emotional support animal (ESA) is:

“…an animal that has been prescribed for a person by his/her licensed therapist (a licensed mental health professional) in a properly formatted letter. This letter should state that the person is determined to be emotionally or psychiatrically disabled and that the presence of the animal is necessary for the disabled person’s mental health.”

Emotional support animals are not trained to perform any specific tasks, or bred for any particular temperament, but nevertheless provide support for their owners through their bond and physical presence.

Service Dog

A dog that has been trained to perform tasks that are helpful to people with physical, neurological and/or cognitive disabilities.
Some service dogs provide alerting to impending medical issues likes seizures or hypoglycemic attacks, others physically assist with daily tasks like shopping and laundry, and others provide sensory assistance like guidance for people who are blind.
Psychiatric service dogs are specifically for people whose mental health condition causes their functioning to be significantly impaired, and can be prescribed by a psychiatrist.  They are trained for specific tasks related to their handler’s disability, such as interrupting repetitive behaviors or reminding them to take medications.   This makes them different from emotional support dogs.
Service dogs are sometimes specially bred for their tasks, but dogs from any situation can have the potential to become a service dog with the right temperament and training.  Service dogs in training are often abbreviated to SDiT.

Sport Mix

A designer dog that has been specially bred to be predisposed to excellence in a given sport.  Popular breeds to include in a sport mix include collies and whippets.

Therapy Dog

Therapy dogs are used to give comfort and emotional support to people who need it.  Examples include children with special educational needs or emotional difficulties, people in senior care or assisted living facilities, and people in hospital.
Some therapy dogs are trained by specialist organizations, but many are trained by their owners.  Unlike emotional support dogs, therapy dogs must be trained in basic obedience and temperament tested, and also registered before they can work with clients.

Working Dog

A working dog is not a pet; they are trained to perform tasks that assist humans.  Examples include herding, military service and police dogs.

The term “working dog” can also refer to a dog that comes from a working breed, but has had no training and is living as a pet.  Not all professional working dogs come from working breeds, and not all working breed dogs are suitable for professional work.

Yard Dog

A dog that is kept outside in its daily life, rather than in a house with people.  Yard dogs are often used to protect a property, and can develop problems with territorial aggression and reactivity if they do not receive adequate human contact, enrichment and socialization.