Service Dogs? Therapy Dogs? Emotional Support Animal?


Some clarification – and some videos you might enjoy

All one species and all different jobs Dogs can do.


A Service Dog is a working dog regardless of the breed and size. These dogs are trained and certified to do at least three specific tasks a person cannot accomplish on their own. It is a serious job with a lot of responsibility for the family and the dog. Each service dog team or triad is as unique as the dog and people involved. Skills and task sets will vary, as will abilities and outcomes. There are many skills a dog can be trained to do. A service dog is allowed to go with the person to school, public transportation, church, etc. The work of a service dog is serious business and can actually mean life or death for the person the dog serves. Because of the investment of thousands of individuals with integrity in the past, we respect and value the reality of these highly important jobs. We endorse doing this job right and certified if you are going to jump into this opportunity for a person you love.

A service dog is still a dog and you cannot take the dog out of the dog. Dog behaviors are part of the package.

In the case of working with persons with FASD, it is recommended there be a team of three (triad) 

  1. Task specific trained dog with a temperament that can handle the persons being served
  2. Full-time neuro-typical responsible handler (parent, spouse, partner) where the dog can get training, direction, leadership, protection
  3. Person (child, adult) who lives with the challenges of FASD who dog provides friendship, love and supports to

Service Dog Stories for person with FASD

Limey retired from being a service dog to our home. When he returned to our house (we were the initial trainers and breeders) he opened sliding doors, turned door knobs, pulled latches and hit the unlocks. We had to get a push then pull special latch to keep him in the house. Today I wish I had taken videos. He could open all the toilet lids for the other dogs to drink. Limey left being a service dog for my friend with FASD and became a service dog for our whole dog pack. It was crazy. Best to be prepared if you take on a service working dog for re-home – Limey did not retire, he simply changed jobs.

On the other hand, his calming and soothing skills proved valuable when I broke my back. He knew intuitively to lay still next to me barely breathing. His gentle rhythm moved and soothed my back against soft warm poodle fur all night. I know Dr Limey was part of my successful healing.

He also decided for the next five years to try to usurp the mild giant that would never start a fight, but was a finisher to the end. He never learned not to torment or not poke that big bear. Wise, brilliant and trained dogs are very special and they come with surprises.

  • Chancer – First Service Dog for Child with FASD – trained by 4 Paws for Ability
  • Sasha – Service Dog for Savannah – trained privately
  • Feather – Service Dog for Katherine – trained privately
  • Toby – Service Dog for Jordan (teen)

What can a service dog do for a child with FASD?

(Note: Dogs are not babysitters – even a standard poodle which I breed and train for high intelligence reaches only a 3 year old level, yes they can learn colors and read pictures, but they are still dogs)


  • Track if a child elopes (task)
  • Tether in public and stop if child bolts (task)
  • Seek caregiver if alarm sounds – window/bedroom/doors (task)
  • Find a caregiver when a certain behavior is displayed (task)
  • Provide support during waking and night terrors – our dog alerted with a buuffff and it reset our daughter’s system so she could awake. As an adult she explained it was like she was locked in a white wall and had to scream her way out, but the dog’s low bark could get through. (task)
  • Provide navigation and companionship to bathroom at night (task)
  • Behavior interrupt – dog is trained to know certain behaviors and interrupts them with play or kissing. Possible behaviors – head banging, picking, nail chewing, flapping (task)
  • Sense meltdown coming and redirect with play or calm petting (task)
  • Retrieve things (task)
  • Sense stress/anxiety and redirect (task)
  • Alert for seizures or blood sugar (task)
  • Pick up dropped items (task)
  • Help in cleaning room (task)
  • Steady for balance (task)

(These often fall in realm of job of EMOTIONAL SUPPORT ANIMAL)

  • Companion and friend (not a task)
  • Calm in anxious situation (not a task)
  • Social lubrication/bridge – other kids like the dog and accept the child as a friend (not a task)
  • Increase confidence (not a task)
  • Provide focus in unstructured environment (not a task)

What can a service dog can do for adult with FASD?


  • Alert for seizures or blood sugar (task)
  • Interrupt behaviors like head banging, picking, nail chewing, flapping (task)
  • Provide safety in the community blocking, stopping (task)
  • Picking up dropped items if lacking balance or bracing when standing (task)
  • Guide home on command (task)
  • Enter home and check for safety (task)
  • Enter and sit in bathroom stall for safety (task)
  • Sense stress/anxiety and redirect (task)
  • Bark for help (task)
  • Retrieve a cell phone in a crisis (task)
  • Bring medication/juice box if needed (task)
  • Wake person in a loving way, kissing, pulling off covers, nuzzling (task)
  • Provide navigation and companionship to bathroom at night (task)
  • Open/shut doors, latches, drawers (task)
  • Turn on lights to enter house (task)
  • Help develop planning skills (task)
  • Stop at street curb and won’t allow person to go across street without proper signal (task)


  • Provide social lubrication (not a task)
  • Provide companionship (not a task)
  • Exercise and lower stress levels (not a task)
  • Being more in tune to keep dog safe in public (not a task)
  • Looking out for the needs of another beyond yourself (not a task)
  • Provide mitigation for excessive noise – hand drying machines, flushing toilets (not a task)
  • Provide navigation through crowds of people (not a task)
  • Increase confidence (not a task)
  • Provide focus in unstructured environment (not a task)
  • Backs away from aggression, goes to safe place (not a task)

If you are thinking of using a psychiatric service dog (PSD) the following states have special requirements. If you are in one of these states check out your details. You may also want to check what is happening with autism service dogs. Hope this information is helpful – not everything you read on the web is true. Check out ALL organizations, breeders and trainers carefully.

Potential task list for PDA

States with special requirements for PDA

  • Arkansas (Public Health Code § 20-14-304(a))
  • Delaware (Commerce & Trade Code § 6-45-4502)
  • Florida (Social Welfare § 413.08)
  • Georgia (Handicapped Persons Code § 30-4-2)
  • Idaho (Public Welfare Code § 56-701A(7))
  • Illinois (Civil Liabilities Code § 740.13/5)
  • Louisiana (Public Welfare Code § 46.1952)
  • Massachusetts (Criminal Code 1.272.98A)
  • Michigan (Penal Code Penal Code § 750.502c)
  • Mississippi (Criminal Code § 97-41-21(5)(g), referring to a service dog for a “physically limited” individual)
  • Missouri (Public Health & Welfare Code §
  • Oklahoma (Blind Persons Code § 7.19.1.D.2)
  • Oregon (Education & Culture Code § 346.680)
  • South Dakota (Personal Rights Code § 20-13-23.2)
  • Tennessee (Professions, Businesses and Trades Code § 62-7-112(a))

Links to learn more:


An emotional support animal (cat, dog, rabbit, bird) is just that – an animal used for emotional support to help a person deal with emotions. An emotional support animal has permission to live in housing areas not otherwise allowing pets. Some of the dangerous breeds may be disqualified and take legal action to gain permission. An emotional support animal is prescribed by a doctor.


A therapy dog begins life as a puppy going to obedience – my recommendation is that before taking the therapy test they have passed the AKC Star Puppy and been titled in AKC Canine Good Citizen, AKC Advanced Community Canine Good Citizen and AKC Urban Canine Good Citizen. These three titles and tests provide the basis to begin taking the Therapy Dog Classes and moving into higher levels of job performance.

Please comment and ask me questions. This is important stuff. It is important for ALL the quality service dogs and people who have gone before us to keep the sanctity of these roles wholesome and safe.

I volunteer in our community and made some short TV shows to help families – one on Gentle, Sharing and 3 Holiday Safety and Kids videos with our kind of kids helping me. All my shows are for our families – enjoy

My hope is to develop a Family Centered Dog Training Program to help children/teens/adults build executive function skills in the Twin Cities. Let me know if you are interested.

Here is some more information A Complete Guide to Service and Emotional Support Dogs

Dis’ Ability Etiquette

If you are not used to relationships with persons who face significant life challenges and also may have a service dog, here are some tips of etiquette:


  1. Offer assistance if you feel like it, but WAIT until your offer is accepted BEFORE you help.
  2. Listen carefully to any instructions the person gives you and follow through

Giving Directions to Person in a Wheelchair:

  1. Consider distance and weather conditions
  2. Consider physical obstacles such as curbs, stairs and steep hills

Giving Directions to Person with Vision Impairment:

  1. Be specific – “go two yards and turn right” or “left one hundred feet, stop at curb.”

Give Grace in Time:

  1. Let the person set the pace for walking and talking
  2. Let the person set the pace to get things done or said.

Event Planning:

  1. Consider disability needs ahead of time – do you need extra chairs, where.
  2. If there will be barriers let the person with a disability know and discuss with them ideas to solve it

Dog working place etiquette:

  1. No messing on floor, if a mistake occurs owner must clean it up
  2. Dogs should not disrupt business or distract clients
  3. Dogs confined to work area of employee
  4. No excessive barking

Resources Beyond PawZup

Favorite Trainers

The world is filled with excellent positive dog trainers who are willing to work together to help families and dogs. If you need information you won’t go wrong searching on these sites.

“TOP” paw-sitive trainers:


Interested in learning more about Dog Training – check out some of these organizations.

Favorite organizations:

Interested in becoming a Dog Trainer?

Best Resources

Here are my favorites books for your personal dog library. I have linked most of the book titles directly to the authors – their hard work and wisdom deserves the reward.

Favorite”TOP” reading list:

Favorite “VIDEO” trainers:

  • Gabor Korom, Dogschool of Népsziget, HungaryMirror Method training incorporates positive reinforcement through the use of a clicker. The trainer teaches the dog by encouraging it to mimic his or her actions by three basic strategies.
    • – Building the relationship with the dog and establishing its ranking order in everyday life
    • – Teaching the dog by using only positive reinforcement and the clicker with absolutely no force or negativity involved
    • – Enforcing the dog’s required lifestyle by providing him with the opportunities to work down his instinct-energies
    • YouTube include: