Pets are excellent companions regardless of breed. Having a furry friend at home or work is like a breath of fresh air because there’s never a dull moment.
If you own a pet, you can relate to how healing it is to come home to your furry friend after a long day. They’re always there whether you’re bored, sad, or happy, and they love you unconditionally.
What’s more? You can rely on them whenever you need a friend, comfort, or emotional support, whether it’s a companion pet or a service animal. But the thing is that they perform different duties and play different roles.
What Is The Difference Between A Companion Pet Vs. Service Animal?
So in this post, let us understand the difference between these working animals. Even though these working dogs perform different duties, they are more than just pets.
The main difference between a companion pet vs. a service animal is that a companion pet is adored for its companionship and delivers excellent emotional health benefits to those in need. On the other hand, a service animal is specifically trained to guide people with disabilities, such as the blind and deaf.
Also, a companion pet may or might not possess good manners, but a service dog is trained to behave faultlessly in public.
A Companion Pet
A companion pet is also known by several names, such as a support dog, a family dog, a therapy animal, and so on. This can include even birds and cats or other animals. Unlike service animals, companion dogs don’t have or require special training skills to guide a person with a disability, such as physical or mental.
In short, companion animals possess therapeutic abilities, so most people rely on them for emotional support during anxiety and depression. However, they are not permitted or have legal access to public places like service dogs and can only go where they’re invited.
Despite not having legal access, an emotional support animal can bring life-changing events in the lives of people who are lonely or seeking comfort.
Also, some companion dogs receive training, but their training differs entirely from service dogs. As such, in hospitals, nursing homes, retirement homes, hospices, or places alike, companion dogs bring comfort to people by adding sunshine to their lives with their bright personalities.
Duties That Companion Pets Perform
The duties that companion pets do are plenty. As you may have noticed, companion or therapy dogs accompany patients in the hospital room to ease the tension of those in rehabilitation or about to get surgery. They visit nursing homes and provide unconditional love to stabilize the emotions of the elders. They sit with the children and kids to help encourage them to control their emotions and so much more.
Besides, there are several real-life stories of people with psychological challenges or PTSD who’ve had life-changing experiences developing a healthy and happy lifestyle after adopting companion pets.
Although the contribution of companion animals brings significant changes in people’s lives with their emotional support, they are not considered service dogs by the American Disabilities Act (ADA).
Moreover, doctors may sometimes recommend an emotional support animal to an individual to bring necessary changes in their life, such as eating healthy, being active, or cultivating positive habits.
You can call them the most well-mannered being in the world. They work for the benefit of people. Service dogs are crucial in supporting people with disabilities. They do what they’re trained for, i.e., to guide people who cannot perform mundane tasks independently.
Only dogs who have undergone exclusive training and successfully perform the necessary tasks of people with physical or mental disabilities are considered service dogs. This trait is what makes them different from companion animals. They are not considered pets by Federal Law; they are regarded as special equipment essential for people with disabilities to help them get through the day.
These working animals receive extensive training to guide the deaf and blind or help people with epilepsy, PTSD, TBI, diabetes, and more.
Moreover, service dogs enjoy broad legal access because they accompany the owner wherever they go. These dogs can legally access almost all public places where companion pets are not allowed, such as the church, public transportation, offices, business places, etc.
Furthermore, there are different types of service dogs, all trained individually to perform specific tasks depending on their owner’s disability. Such as there are allergy detection dogs, mobility assistance dogs, PTSD service dogs, seizure alert dogs, and diabetic alert dogs.
Duties That Service Animals Perform
Suppose you’re wondering what kind of breed is used as a service dog; any breed that meets the requirements can become one. But some dog breeds that do exceptionally well in this field are Golden Retrievers, Boxers, Portuguese Water Dogs, GermanShepherds, Border Coolies, and Great Danes.
Service animals receive special training to perform specific well-trained tasks to aid those with mental or physical disabilities, such as people who face challenges in seeing, walking, working, or hearing.
These service animals guide by alerting the blind of moving cars or navigating the road. They warn the deaf or hearing impaired about the presence of people or sounds. They assist in pulling the wheelchair of their handler, help those having seizures, detect allergens, and more.
Today, there are a growing number of service dogs trained for specific disabilities to help the living, and the industry continues to grow.
Though service dogs enjoy several advantages, they follow strict rules. Such as, they shouldn’t be aggressive, should always be under control, are not allowed to roam freely in public places, and shouldn’t sit on chairs.
By now, you already know the difference between these two working animals. Though they perform different tasks, they do what most people can’t do: helping without expecting anything in return and being there without judging.
Be it a companion pet or service animal, the magic they bring into our lives is extraordinary and plays a vital role in not only making our lives better but help us improve our mental well-being.
- Fine, A. H. (2010). Handbook on animal-assisted therapy: Theoretical foundations and guidelines for practice (3rd ed.). Academic Press. https://www.sciencedirect.com/book/9780123814531/handbook-on-animal-assisted-therapy
- Hart, L. A., Yamamoto, M., & Guo, F. (2018). Differences in human-animal interaction experiences among dog owners and non-dog owners and implications for public health: A large, representative study. PLoS One, 13(2), e0192920. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0192920
- Johnson, R. A., Meadows, R. L., & Haubner, J. S. (2018). Animal-assisted interventions research: Issues and answers. In J. S. Haubner & R. A. Johnson (Eds.), Animal-assisted interventions: Theoretical foundations and guidelines for practice (3rd ed., pp. 289-310). Elsevier. https://www.sciencedirect.com/book/9780128117197/animal-assisted-interventions
- Nimer, J., & Lundahl, B. (2007). Animal-assisted therapy: A meta-analysis. Anthrozoös, 20(3), 225-238. https://doi.org/10.2752/089279307X224773
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