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A lot of people get service dogs and therapy dogs confused.

Service dogs are individually trained to do work for or perform specific tasks for people with disabilities as defined by the American Disabilities Act. Service dogs have full public access and are allowed on airplanes, in restaurants, and in stores. For example, there are guide dogs for the blind, for those with severe physical disabilities, and seizure alert dogs.


Therapy dogs, on the other hand, are invited into specific facilities (like a hospital or nursing home) to provide animal therapy to the residents. Therapy dogs have no public access rights and are considered pets.

To help your pooch become a therapy dog, you first have to decide which organization you would like to work with. Love on a Leash and Paw’sitive Teams are two large organizations in the area. There is also a Therapy Dog Program at The Helen Woodward Center and San Diego Humane Society. After you decide, contact the organization directly to see what qualifications they have for certification. Once you pass those, you are on your way!