Over the past 15 years I have helped clients train their dogs to become service dogs. After finding out what kind of service they want their dog to provide, I let them know what type of training will be involved. Strong basic obedience training and having a dog with the correct temperament are very important. When the dog and handler have demonstrated that they have skills to become a service dog team I give a public access test in the field, and if passed I will designate them as a service dog team.
The basic difference between a service dog and therapy dog is that a service dog provides a specific service (or services) for an individual (and no one else). These services can be for physical or psychological reasons. A therapy dog is one that a handler shares with others for their enjoyment, or for therapeutic reasons.
For 25 years I have belonged to Pet Partners which is an organization in Bellview, Washington that certifies handlers and dogs as Therapy Dog teams. I have also been certified as a Pet Partner evaluator for 20 years. A Pet Partners therapy dog team is one that is trained and tested to see if they qualify to visit hospitals, schools, or anywhere that has people who would benefit by having a chance to interact with handlers and dogs. Again, basic obedience training is necessary for a handler and dog to successfully pass a test to become certified Pet Partners.
Gary worked with me and Freja from the time she was 5 months old with the goal of making her a service dog. We attended obedience classes as well as having private sessions for public access work. All along the way Gary was supportive and invested. He was and still is available for questions and concerns. Gary loves his work and because of him, I have a devoted and reliable service dog in Freja. She has made my life much easier and I am very grateful to Gary for making this possible.