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If you’ve ever seen working dogs around malls or airports, you’ve probably seen their working dog vests. As it turns out, you can often identify the type of service dog by the vest they’re wearing.

You might not have given a lot of thought to the importance of a dog vest, but it’s a vital piece of equipment for any service dog. But you can’t just decide your pet is a service dog and put a vest on them. Service dogs, with the exception of emotional support dogs (more on these later), receive highly specialized training.

A service dog vest makes it clear to everyone that the dog wearing it is at work. It means the dog is focused on their task, and should not be approached. If you have just received a service dog, you should carefully consider the type of dog vest (and other gear, for that matter, such as a harness or leash) you purchase.

Continue reading for more information on different types of service dogs, their purposes and the special gear they might wear.

The Importance Of Using A Service Dog Vest When Out And About With Your Service Animal

A service dog is an incredible animal. People have relied on this type of working dog for decades in order to help them live their best life possible. Service dogs, unlike the awesome pups we have as pets, are trained from the time they’re puppies to perform a specific type of work. For example, a service dog can be taught to notice the signs of a seizure, or to help guide someone who is blind.1

service dog | Ultimate Pet NutritionSince this type of service animal is often in public, it’s important they wear something that plainly identifies them as such. A service dog vest tells the world the dog shouldn’t be petted, or even spoken to. If you have a service dog, you should never leave home without making sure they are wearing the dog vest. The last thing you’ll want is a well-meaning stranger coming up to offer a belly scratch and distracting the dog from performing his or her responsibilities.2

A working dog will typically wear a blue or red vest, along with a harness. There are several different roles that service dogs can play. Some help people who are blind or deaf, while others help those who have issues affecting their mental health. In some cases, you might even see a working dog helping someone in a wheelchair.3

A service dog has access to public places a regular dog does not, but they must always be secured using a harness or leash.4

Other Reasons Dog Vests Are So Important – Trust And Safety

A service dog vest not only sends a message to not distract the dog, it also tells others that they can trust the dog. If a dog isn’t wearing a dog vest and an emergency occurs, people nearby may not realize that the animal is trying to help. A dog vest helps eliminate confusion.5

Different Types Of Service Dogs: Trained Service Dogs, Emotional Support, And Therapy Dogs

You’ve already seen the different roles that service dogs play. Here’s a closer look at three of them in particular – dogs who help those with disabilities, dogs who provide emotional support, and those who provide therapeutic assistance.

service dog | Ultimate Pet NutritionService Dogs

Dogs can be trained to offer assistance to those suffering from certain psychiatric, physical, intellectual, or other types of disabilities. For example, a service dog can alert a hearing impaired person when someone enters a room or knocks on the door. They can help people with physical limitations by doing things such as opening a cabinet or door or bringing you something like a cell phone.6

Emotional Support Dogs

An emotional support animal provides comfort, but can only be obtained through a prescription written by a psychiatrist, psychologist, or a therapist. Emotional support animals don’t require any specific training, but they must be well adjusted to being around people. Also, they don’t always get the same access to public areas that other types of service animals typically receive.7

In many cases however, emotional support animals (or ESAs) will be able to board an airplane, as long as they can be easily controlled by a leash or harness.8

Therapy Dogs

emotional support dog | Ultimate Pet Nutrition

Therapy dogs aren’t trained to perform any particular task. They also typically don’t need any sort of special harness or vest. They just need to be calm, sweet, gentle, friendly, and good around people.

Therapy dogs are the beautiful pups who often visit people in hospitals and nursing homes to help lift their spirits. These dogs adore being petted and loved – they’ll often curl up with patients to help them get through whatever health challenge they’re facing.9

Search And Rescue Dogs

Search and rescue dogs are accustomed to working under intense pressure, putting their amazing sense of smell to use to help save lives. They help look for people lost after a natural disaster, or help in searches for people who have been lost in the woods. They can even help find someone with mental issues who may have wondered away from the place they’re receiving care.10

What Does A Tactical Dog Do?

police dog | Ultimate Pet NutritionThere’s a good chance you’ve seen a tactical dog on television. It could have been a bomb-sniffing dog at an airport, or part of the K9 unit of a police force. Tactical dogs are also a big part of the U.S. Military.

Military dogs have several different roles. They’ll often wear a tactical vest and be attached to a special tactical harness. A tactical dog vest will often have detachable pouches that can hold medicine, water, or food. Here are just some of the things these magnificent dogs do in a military setting.

  • Sentries – Military dogs may help protect vital operations, such as supply dumps or airports. More than 3,000 dogs were trained to help the U.S. Coast Guard protect America from any potential coastal submarine attacks.
  • Patrol Dogs – These dogs may help spot enemy activity, protecting infantry members from surprise attacks. Soldiers on patrol walk with these animals who are attached to a special tactical dog harness. Many of these dogs can spot enemy forces at up to 1,000 yards away. It takes a truly special dog to serve this role, one with not only a quiet disposition but also an incredibly high level of intelligence.
  • Casualty Dogs – These dogs help find casualties of battle in areas that are hard to locate. In many instances, they’ve literally been the difference between life and death.11

Selecting Working Dog Vests: Service Animal Vests Vs. Therapy Dog Vests

service dog vest emblems | Ultimate Pet NutritionThere’s typically a substantial difference between the type of dog vest a service animal will wear versus what a therapy dog would wear. A service dog, for instance, will usually have a vest that states clearly what the dog does (such as being a guide dog for a visually impaired person). That makes it easy for the manager of a restaurant, for example, to distinguish between dogs that will and won’t be allowed into the establishment.12

A therapy dog, on the other hand, usually doesn’t need that type of dog vest. Therapy animals may just wear something like a bandana or a vest that identifies the organization that supplied them to the hospital, nursing home, or other facility.13

Your Best Friend’s Comfort Is Important: Consider Sizing, Girth, And Wearing With A Leash

Whether you have a service dog, a therapy dog or anything in between, you want to always think about the comfort of your companion when choosing the right type of gear. Whether you’re buying a dog harness, a dog vest, or anything else, you’ll want to make sure the dog will be able to wear it without any sort of problems.

working dog vests | Ultimate Pet NutritionThe size of the dog is super important when it comes to choosing a service dog vest. You may want to measure the chest and neck to ensure the best possible fit. If you’re buying a dog vest online, it will probably include a size chart that can help you make the right decision.14

There are also certain qualities and other features you’ll want to consider, whether the pooch will be on a leash or a dog harness. Look for padded straps and a breathable lining so the dog doesn’t get too hot if you’re outside. Durability is also important. A dog vest made of fabric containing 1000D nylon is very resistant to tearing.15

Take time and do some research before purchasing a harness, vest, leash, or any other gear for your service dog. Your dog deserves to do their job while wearing the most comfortable gear possible.

Learn More:
Dog Freaking Out Every Time You Leave? Learn All About Separation Anxiety In Dogs
What To Know About A Dog Growl And What To Do About Aggressive Behavior In Dogs
Dog Agility Classes Can Teach Your Dog New Tricks

Sources
1 https://www.petguide.com/products/dog/best-service-dog-vests-and-harnesses-for-working-dogs/
2 https://www.petguide.com/products/dog/best-service-dog-vests-and-harnesses-for-working-dogs/
3 https://www.servicedogcertifications.org/vest-for-service-dog/
4 https://www.servicedogcertifications.org/vest-for-service-dog/
5 https://www.nsarco.com/blog/service-dog-vests-are-important.html
6 https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/lifestyle/service-working-therapy-emotional-support-dogs/
7 https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/news/everything-about-emotional-support-animals/
8 https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/news/everything-about-emotional-support-animals/
9 https://www.disabled-world.com/disability/serviceanimals/therapy-dogs.php
10 https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/search-and-rescue-dogs
11 https://www.uswardogs.org/war-dog-history/types-war-dogs/
12 https://usserviceanimals.org/blog/therapy-dog-vest/
13 https://usserviceanimals.org/blog/therapy-dog-vest/
14 https://www.nsarco.com/blog/selecting-the-right-service-dog-vest.html
15 https://thecaninechefcookbook.com/blog/tactical-dog-gear