emotional support dogs

Is There A Difference Between Emotional Support Dogs And Psychiatric Service Dogs?

Dogs are adorable creatures that make you go “aww” every time you look at them.


Sloppy kisses, much needed cuddles, laying on back just to make their belly rub. Everything they do with us seems to make our day in one way or the other. We forget all the ongoing tensions and stress.


Dogs are incredible and immensely helpful as an aid in the therapy for both mental and physical illnesses. Perhaps they are perfect companion whether you have any medical emergency or not.


But there is always a confusion between the animal assistance for both psychiatric service dogs and emotional support dogs.


  • Do they mean the same?
  • Do they serve the same purpose?
  • Do they enjoy the same status in the eyes of the law?


These are some of the commonly asked questions which create a lot of doubt among the ones who are looking for dogs as emotional assistance.


What’s the Similarity?

Both psychiatric service dogs and emotional support dogs provide emotional and psychological assistance to the ones who are emotionally incapable of handling themselves. Especially in the presence of their triggers or other factors.


What’s the Difference?

Decoding the differences between the two.



  • Psychiatric Service Dogs 


They are the ones that help to assist disabled people with everyday tasks. Thereby making their lives easier by relieving stress factors tremendously.


They are trained specifically to meet the needs of their handlers in terms of emotional and physical assistance.


Like every other service dog, they are also certified by the Americans with Disability Act (ADA).


For instance, a psychiatric service dog will be helpful in preventing the patient from walking onto the busy roads if they are emotionally disoriented at any time of the day.


Their work capabilities include the following-


  • Providing security for individuals with PTSD
  • Blocking persons in dissociative episodes from wandering into danger.
  • Preventing or interrupting impulsive or destructive behaviors, such as self-mutilation.

They are trained to sense the changes in natural patterns.



  • Emotional Support Dogs


The type of assistance that they provide to their owners is similar to that of psychiatric service dogs. But, they are most helpful in providing emotional assistance.


They might be able to provide physical affection on command. But, they are mostly not trained or not required to be trained as per the federal guidelines issued for them.


Emotional support dogs do not carry the same level of access as compared to the other service animals.


Which Laws Supports These Animals?

As per the ADA, psychiatric service animals are exempted from any public restrictions. It means that the handlers can take their dogs anywhere without any legal implications.


However, it is not the same for emotional support dogs. These dogs have access to the perks under the two federal laws namely- Air Carrier Access Act and Fair Housing Act.


According to them, you can either live and fly with your support dog without any additional fares or pet deposits.


Other than that, the dogs are subject to subject to public restrictions.


In the eyes of the law, they are both different entities and have to be treated differently.


For emotional support dogs to access the perks mentioned, the handler needs to have genuine emotional support animal letter.


To wrap it up, having any type of animal assistance is a blessing in disguise. As dogs have the innate ability to help their handlers be happy, calm, and relaxed at all times.


They trigger endorphins and oxytocin popularly known as “feel good” hormones. Their presence only lowers the tensed situations.


So, whether you are in need of a psychiatric service dog or an emotional support dog, talking to a mental health specialist is the best option to deal with your condition positively.


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