Frequently asked questions

What is the difference between a service dog, a therapy dog, and an emotional support dog?


Service dogs are trained to perform tasks and to do work that eases their handlers’ disabilities. Working as part of a team with their disabled partners, service dogs help them attain safety and independence. Emotional support dogs may live with their owner yet their main purpose is to provide support through emotional companionship. Emotional support dogs are not intended to provide support to groups of people as therapy dogs are. Therapy dogs receive training but have a completely different type of job from service dogs or emotional support dogs. Their responsibilities are to provide psychological or physiological therapy to individuals other than their handlers. Therapy dogs comfort clients via body contact and possess a calm temperament.




Are there age requirements for dogs or handlers?


A dogs in good health and temperment need to be at least one year of age to take the therapy dog certification test. There is no age resctriction for taking the tractice test or therapy dog training classes. A dog is never too old, we have dogs that have become certified therapy dogs in their late teens! Young people will need to test on their own with their dog. A parent or guardian must be present. They will need a parent or guardian to sign the membership papers and accompany them on their therapy dog visits. Some facilities have age restrictions for young people, so make sure you inquire about their rules and regulations before a visit.




How can my dog become a certified therapy dog?


All dogs have to pass the AKC and CGC tests. If your dog is well trained you can take the practice test, at that test we will evaluate your dog to see how well he/she would do on passing the certification test. You need to pass the pre-test to qualify for the certification test. If your dog has never had any formal training people normally take a beginnner class. After this, a therapy dog class should be taken which gets you ready for any of the therpay dog testing. Your success will depend totally on how much you work with your dog. You need to make your training a "life skills", practiced everyday. We work with you to be successful and become a bonded therapy dog team.




What happens after my dog becomes certified?


Immediately following the certification test, you will be given a folder with paperwork needing to be filled out by you and your veterinarian. Once completed, that information will be returned to Dogs With A Purpose along with a photo of you and your dog. Soon after that, you will be provided with a tag for your dog and an ID badge for the two of you. Therapy dog teams will incite you to visit with them to help you get started on your volunteering. Trick classes can also be taken to provide entertainment on your visits!




Where can I take my certified therapy dog?


Certified theapy dogs volunteers teams are welcomed in medical facilities, schools, extended care facilities, day cares, universities, and libraries. The list is endless! We are also invited with our dogs to be entertainment at events. When you have a certified therapy dog, you will be welcomed because you are insured and trained.