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There is no recognized certification for service dogs or the trainers.

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Assistance dogs who lead visually impaired and blind people around obstacles are one of the most commonly known types of service dogs. , , and Lab/Golden hybrids are often chosen as guide dogs, although other breeds, such as , can also be well suited to the job. According to the , guide dogs have been helping visually impaired people for centuries, and their use may date back to Roman times. Many laws and pieces of legislation regarding service animals were original written with an emphasis on guide dogs. While people often expect guide dogs and other assistance dogs to wear vests, the does not require a vest, although they’ll often be wearing a special harness with a handle on it.

For this article I will focus on service dogs but there are many joys of owning various four legged friends.

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With the rise in food allergies has come another category of medical service dog. Allergy detection dogs are trained to sniff out and alert to the odor of things such as peanuts or gluten. Often partnered with children, allergy detection dogs can be trained to alert to allergy-inducing smells at school, providing the kids with a greater sense of independence and giving their parents a greater sense of security. While it’s clear that some dogs can be successfully trained to alert for allergies, this category of service dog attracted negative attention when some .

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Other schools in the United States, however, train and provide handlers to students. According to 4 Paws for Ability, a school district in Forsyth County, Ga., has multiple service dogs handled by school personnel, as does the school district in Keller, Texas. Not all districts are service animal–friendly; Cone hopes that will change as more parents fight the system.

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This versatile category of service dog assists people who are suffering from issues like depression, anxiety, and most often post-traumatic stress disorder. PTSD can afflict people after they’ve served in combat, worked as a first responder, or experienced abuse, natural disasters, terrorism, and other life-altering events, such as car crashes. The human handlers in this category can feel hyper vigilant about their safety, and service dogs can make them feel safer by doing things like entering the home before the human, and turning on the lights with a foot pedal. These dogs can also help PTSD sufferers who feel overwhelmed in public places by creating a physical barrier between the handler and others, giving the handler more personal space. Many PTSD sufferers find that having a service dog to care for forces the human to also take care of themselves, by getting out into the world and getting exercise with their dog.

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Not to be confused with seizure alert dogs, seizure response dogs are trained to provide help to a person experiencing an epileptic seizure, not to predict the seizure. These dogs can be trained to bark for help or to press an alarm system during a person’s seizure. They can also get a person out of an unsafe place during a seizure and help the handler to come around when the seizure ends. These dogs may also bring medicine or a phone to a person who is coming out of a seizure.

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Seizure alert dogs are a controversial type of service dog who react with a specific type of behavior right before her human has a seizure. The ability to alert to seizures seems to be a natural ability for a small number of dogs, there is no reliable evidence to suggest that dogs can reliably predict seizures. On the other hand, many patients, families, and trainers insist their dogs do accurately predict and alert to oncoming seizures, and stories about pet dogs who alert without training have received a lot of media attention. Some epilepsy organizations, like , state that it’s not possible for dogs to be trained to alert to seizures, but some dog training agencies (including UK-based and ) say it is possible to train a dog to alert.

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Other kinds of working dogs, including therapy dogs and emotional support dogs, are not classified as service animals as they’re not trained to perform a specific task to help their handlers. In most jurisdictions, these kinds of dogs are not afforded the same privileges as services dogs.