Marissa Corbett Shamong NJ

Training for Specific Purposes: Service Dog, Therapy Dog, and Working Dog Training

Dogs are nothing less than amazing.

They provide love and comfort without ever asking for anything in return. They are a best friend and an exercise partner. Dogs have the power to make life more fulfilling.

Marissa Corbett of Shamong NJ explains that there are also dogs specially trained to offer essential companionship and important assistance. These are the dogs that not only brighten lives but change them.

Service Dogs

A service dog is a certified dog who is trained to help those with physical or mental impairments. This commonly includes visual impairments, a range of disabilities and certain medical conditions like seizure disorders or diabetes, and more. Dogs who specialize in helping those with mental disabilities are often called psychiatric service dogs and they have been shown to drastically help those with depression, anxiety, or post-traumatic stress disorder.

Both types of service dogs are covered as options as part of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and local laws. Service dogs are considered working animals and not typical pets. Service dogs are trained to complete tasks that someone is unable to perform themselves.

Though service dogs do not need to be registered with the ADA, it’s important to keep training documents from a professional in case a certification is challenged. According to law, service dogs must be allowed in businesses and it’s illegal for someone to ask questions about a disability.

Therapy Dogs

Therapy dogs are not trained to perform very specific assistance tasks. They are dogs whose owners volunteer to offer support and comfort to certain groups of people, primarily young people in schools, hospital patients, and those in assisted living.

Like a service dog, a therapy dog must be certified. Numerous therapy dog training programs, including one run by Petco, are active in communities across the country. They are sponsored by several different organizations.

The American Kennel Club offers a Canine Good Citizen test, a recommended precursor to therapy training that covers basic manners. A CGC test prepares a dog for therapy training tailored to the desired work, such as accompanying people on airplanes. At all times, therapy dogs need to be well-groomed, well-behaved, and up to date on vaccinations required by local laws.


Working Dogs

A working dog is trained to perform very specific tasks to help humans and is not related to therapy or emotional support.

Common types of working dogs include those trained to hunt and herd, aid police with search and rescue missions or through drug or cadaver detection, and work with soldiers in war, often through bomb detection.

For example, Belgian Malinois and German shepherds are especially good at explosives detection, while bloodhounds are popularly used for search and rescue. Scientists have trained Labrador retrievers to detect cancer in patients by recognizing the unique odor of a cancerous cell.

Working dogs must be able to recognize several physical or verbal commands that correspond to specific tasks. This is mastered through different training approaches, but sometimes owners train working dogs on their own.

Working dog training requires a lot of patience, overseeing repetitive tasks, and offering different types of rewards or enrichment incentives. As with service and therapy dogs, working dog training can last anywhere from six months to several years.