International Assistance Dog Week

Assistance Dog, service dogs, therapy dogs

This week from August 4-10, we are celebrating International Assistance Dog Week by posting information about the different types of assistance dogs, the training they receive, and highlighting a few local organizations that provide these services.

According to their website, “International Assistance Dog Week was established due to the efforts of Marcie Davis, a paraplegic for over 35 years and CEO of Davis Innovations, a consulting firm based in Santa Fe, NM. Davis is the author of Working Like Dogs: The Service Dog Guidebook, a resource book that captures personal stories, checklists and practical tips to provide the reader with an A-Z guide about service dogs and she is the host of the Internet radio program, Working Like Dogs, at As a member of a service dog team, she founded Working Like Dogs to honor assistance dogs around the world and is sponsoring International Assistance Dog Week.”

There are 3 types of Assistance Dogs:

  • Guide Dogs – for the blind and the visually impaired
  • Hearing Dogs – for the deaf and hard of hearing
  • Service Dogs – for people with disabilities other than those related to vision or hearing

Guide dogs have been around for over 70 years and are considered the most well-known type of assistance dogs. Over the last 10-20 years, service dogs have really made a big impact in the world and according to Assistance Dogs International, “They can be trained to work with people who use power or manual wheelchairs, have balance issues, have various types of autism, need seizure alert or response, need to be alerted to other medical issues like low blood sugar, or have psychiatric disabilities.”

Psychiatric Service dogs are used for people with mental health issues. There are 3 categories of Psychiatric Service Dogs:

  • Service Dogs: physically helps people with mental health issues. They live with the person they serve but are considered working dogs, not pets. An example would be a mentally disabled person with a tendency to wander off in any direction when disoriented – a Psychiatric Service Dog would be trained and assigned to the individual to prevent them from walking onto busy roads.
  • Therapy Dogs: provide service to people who are not their handlers – they help people in places like hospitals, schools, and nursing homes. They comfort people in uncomfortable situations, such as before a surgery or at a nursing home.
  • Emotional Support Dogs: provide therapy services to their owners. They do not assist individuals with everyday tasks, but rather provide emotional comfort and help to improve the symptoms of certain psychological disorders.

The only physical aspect an Emotional Support Animal might provide, in contrast to a Service Animal, is that they may provide physical affection on command, or respond to playful activities.

Over the next week, we will share more about Assistance Dogs on both Paws on the Prowl and Topline K9 Solutions Facebook pages. Be sure to follow along, you won’t want to miss this.