Therapy Assistance Dogs
Therapy Assistance Dogs are not considered assistance dogs and do not have the legal access rights that assistance dogs have. Therapy Dogs are used to provide comfort. Therapy Dogs work great in nursing homes, hospitals, schools, hospices, disaster areas, and to people with learning difficulties.
Research indicates that interaction with therapy dogs can temporarily affect the release of various neurotransmitters in the brain; levels of oxytocin (linked with bonding) and dopamine (involved in the reward-motivation system) are increased, while cortisol levels (an immunosuppressant associated with stress) are decreased.
One example of the use of therapy dogs is the building of self-confidence. Many children have difficulties reading. As a result, they can develop low self-esteem when reading in public. By reading to a dog, children relax and focus on the dog and 'the reading', therefore building self-confidence.
Therapy dogs are not trained to assist specific individuals and do not qualify as service dogs under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Institutions may invite, limit, or prohibit access by therapy dogs. If allowed, many institutions have rigorous requirements for therapy dogs.