Service Dog Training

Emotional Support Animal vs Service Dog - What's The Difference?

While both serve humans, emotional support animals — commonly referred to as ESAs — and service dogs are often confused. ESA and Service Dogs are similar in that they can both provide emotional support for their owners, but there are many legal differences between the two. Understanding these differences will allow you to properly determine and train an animal for your needs.

Service dogs are defined in the Americans with Disabilities Act and are dogs that are specifically trained to help people with disabilities. We help people with disabilities train their own dog to assist them as a service dog, specializing in mobility assistance dogs, and psychiatric service dogs.

Emotional Support Animal (ESA) Training
ESA’s are not the same thing as service animals and are not allowed places pets are not permitted, but are currently allowed on the cabin of a plane and in some types of no-pet housing. We can help ESA’s be calm for air travel and teach good manners if they are living no-pet housing.

Phone Consultations
Receive guidance to select a dog for service work, an ESA or learn about service dog training.

 Owners must be 18 years or older, or accompanied by a legal guardian.
 Able to attend training lessons for 1.5 years or longer (we offer Play and Train, Day Training, and Board and Train to compliment or assist in furthering the training of potential service dogs as well.)
 Able to commit daily time to practicing with your dog between appointments.
 Have a disability as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act
 Aware that you may end up with a dog that can only help at home or in places pets are allowed. Up to 50% of service dog candidates in programs are not able to complete training and work in places pets are not permitted.
 Willing to wait until we evaluate your dog’s suitability and help you train your dog foundation skills before putting service dog identification on your dog and before taking your dog to places pets are not permitted.
 Have support from your licensed healthcare provider for use of a service dog.

Requirements for the Dog
1. No history of aggression towards dogs, people or other animals
2. Easily trained. A breed or mix likely to have characteristics suitable for service work such as Labradors and Golden retrievers. Each dog is assessed as an individual but some breeds are more likely to exhibit characteristics suitable for service work than others.
3. No history of any serious behavior problems like fear or separation anxiety
4. Under age 4, physically healthy.


Many people think that ESA and Service Dogs are interchangeable, but they are meant for separate tasks. A service dog is specially trained to perform a function or job for an owner that has a physical, intellectual, or emotional disability. An ESA serves as an emotional companion for his/her owner. A service dog many still be able to provide the comfort of an ESA, but has been trained to complete more extensive tasks that a support dog will not.

Federal Protection

Service dogs are usually needed more frequently as they help the owner with physical tasks. Thus, they are offered legal protections through the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and granted public access rights that emotional support animals do not get. An emotional support dog, on the other hand, doesn’t share the same legal protections. It’s important to understand that if you have an emotional support dog, they may not be allowed into areas that a service dog will. Legal protection of an emotional support animal is limited to housing and air travel. However, there may be businesses that will allow you to bring your emotional support animal inside, so you’ll have to check with them beforehand.

The Process

Step 1 We begin with a 60 minute phone appointment where we discuss your needs, identify tasks that would be helpful to train, review your dog’s behavioral history, educate you on reputable service dog informational resources and give you some training recommendations. Fees for all services outlined are based on our hourly training rates.

Step 2 We conduct a 30-60 minute in-person evaluation of your dog. This is where we look at how your dog responds to some minor stressors and in a new situation to see if it is appropriate to begin training him or her for service work.

Step 3 Training for service work if your dog is suitable. This process usually takes 1 – 2 years but can take longer. Process includes group classes, day training, private training, board and train. Rates are dependent upon services required.

Step 4 Follow up support. Ongoing brush up training throughout your service dog’s working career. Fees (see hourly and package rates)