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Therapy Dogs

  and Assistance Dogs!

Clearing up the confusion...



A Therapy Dog is completely different from a Service Dog (U.S.A.), or an Assistance Dog (Australia). Therapy dogs provide an incredible service to hospitals, respite centres and schools, and their work should never be diminished. However, they do not have the same extensive training as Assistance Dogs, nor do they hold legally protected access to areas pet dogs cannot go. They may only attend the facility for which they have written authorisation.

There is currently no regulation for therapy dogs in Australia, in spite of many companies training and "certifying" them. You can, in fact ,train your own therapy dog. This is not an ideal situation, as no rigorous standards are in place.

Assistance Dogs are trained to an excepional standard  to serve one disabled handler, and must pass rigorous tests, as with guide and hearing dogs. This training takes time, and is expensive, requiring highly skilled trainers across many months of work with and without the handler. Many people assume a PAT test qualifies their dog.  They are truly misinformed. the PAT test is the simplest part of assistance accreditation.


Generally, Assistance Dogs were never pets ( although some exceptions can be made for soldiers with P.T.S.D. and their dogs), but bred for a specific need  and matched to a specific person with a disability. These pups go to puppy raisers for the first year and then are carefully matched to a handler. 

People who pretend to have service dogs are a very real threat to people with disablilities and their Assistance Dogs. Assistance Dogs and ther disabled handlers are protected by both state and commonwealth law. Individuals and organisations can be heavily fined for denying access to these teams. If you see an assistance dog behaving badly in public please report it to Guide, Hearing and Assistance Dogs Qld.  

We are a Qld. Government Approved Assistance Dog Training Institution. It is not an easy process to obtain this approval. Many unapproved organisations are making promises of accreditation that they are unable to keep. There is a list of all Qld. Government approved trainers at this link:

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