Is a therapy dog a service dog?

Every dog provides therapeutic benefits to their human companions, but becoming a certified facility therapy dog involves additional training and patience. If you believe your dog might be suitable for a therapy dog program, consider reaching out to a local trainer for a thorough evaluation.


What’s the difference?

So, what sets apart a therapy dog from an emotional support dog or a service dog? It primarily comes down to the level of training and their specific roles:


  1. Emotional Support Dogs: These dogs are primarily focused on providing one-on-one support to reduce a specific person’s anxiety or emotional distress. They offer comfort and companionship, but their training is typically less intensive than that of therapy or service dogs.


  1. Therapy Dogs: Dogs like Morris V. Prout undergo more comprehensive training. They are equipped to assist groups of people and work in various facilities such as funeral homes, nursing homes, rehabilitation centers, and hospitals. Their mission is to provide comfort and emotional support to multiple individuals.


  1. Service Dogs: Service dogs are highly trained to perform specific tasks that aid people with disabilities. These tasks can range from guiding individuals who are visually impaired (similar to seeing-eye dogs) to providing medical support or assisting police and military personnel. Service dogs are dedicated to helping their handlers with essential functions.


As for Morris, when he wears his vest, he understands that it’s time to work. He has been trained to differentiate between work and play, switching from a dedicated helper to a playful two-year-old puppy when the vest comes off. This clear boundary is crucial for maintaining their focus and effectiveness in their respective roles.


Do’s and Don’ts Around Working Dogs


Every dog’s role depends on their training and purpose, and it’s important to respect these distinctions, especially in public spaces.


Service Dogs: When you see a service dog wearing its vest or harness, it’s crucial to recognize that it’s on duty. Service dogs are highly trained to assist individuals with disabilities. Distractions, such as petting, can disrupt their focus. It’s essential to refrain from petting or interacting with a service dog without the owner’s explicit permission. Interfering with their work can potentially jeopardize the safety and well-being of their handler.


Therapy Dogs: In contrast, therapy dogs, like Morris V. Prout, are often present in public places to provide emotional support and comfort. They are trained to be friendly and approachable and they welcome cuddles and interactions. Therapy dogs play a vital role in offering comfort to people in various environments, so feel free to approach them when their handler is present and ask for permission to interact.


Do all dogs have the same public access rights?

Understanding the legal restrictions associated with each classification is equally important:


Service Dogs: Service dogs are granted specific legal protections under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in the United States. They are allowed access to most public places, including restaurants, stores, and transportation. It’s essential for businesses and individuals to be aware of these rights and treat service dog teams with respect and accommodation.


Therapy Dogs: Therapy dogs do not have the same access rights as service dogs. We always obtain permission from a facility or organization before bringing Morris for a visit. We also bring along copies of Morris’s training certificate and vaccination records. It’s essential for therapy dog handlers to coordinate their visits and ensure they are following the rules and regulations of each location.


Emotional Support Dogs: Emotional support dogs do not have automatic access to other public places, such as restaurants, stores, or educational institutions. Their access is primarily related to housing and air travel, and it’s essential to follow specific guidelines and requirements.


Recognizing and understanding these legal restrictions helps create a more inclusive and accommodating environment for individuals with disabilities who rely on service dogs. It also ensures that therapy dogs can continue to provide their valuable emotional support in appropriate settings without causing confusion or disruptions. Always remember that responsible pet ownership and respect for these distinctions contribute to a harmonious coexistence of dogs and humans in public spaces.


While all dogs have the potential to offer emotional support, the distinctions lie in the level of training and the specific tasks they are trained to perform. Emotional support dogs provide one-on-one comfort, therapy dogs offer support to groups in various settings, and service dogs are extensively trained to assist people with disabilities in specific ways.


Connect with Morris V. Prout and Prout Funeral Home

To learn more about our full-time Certified Grief Therapy Dog, Morris V. Prout, and the impact he makes here at Prout Funeral Home, give us a call at 973-239-2060. And follow his adventures on Facebook and Instagram @morrisvprout .

MVP Gallery

Morris V. Prout Lecture Series

At Prout Funeral Home, we care deeply about our community, which is why we added our certified grief therapy dog, Morris V. Prout to our family and it is the impetus behind the Morris V. Prout Lecture Series, an ongoing series that centers on health, wellness and public safety.


MVP Lecture Series Part I: The Rule of St. Benedict

In our inaugural installment of the Morris V. Prout Lecture Series, we partnered with the Verona Clergy Council to present “The Rule of St. Benedict.” Held at the First Presbyterian Church in Verona, this discussion featured Rev. Jane Tomaine, an Episcopalian priest and author of St. Benedict’s Toolbox: The Nuts and Bolts of Everyday Benedictine Living and The Rule of Benedict: Christian Monastic Wisdom for Daily Living and Rev. Albert Holz, OSB, a Benedictine monk and Prior of the Newark Abbey in Newark, NJ. We explored how St. Benedict’s ancient wisdom transcends religion and can be applied to modern living to help us find balance and harmony in our lives. Thank you to everyone who came out and participated in this wonderfully uplifting afternoon!

MVP Lecture Series Part II: Tesla Crash Course for First Responders

Our second installment of the Morris V. Prout Lecture Series, the Tesla Crash Course, is born out of our commitment to public safety and sustainability. With the growing number of electric vehicles (EV’s) on the road, it is becoming more and more important for our first responders to be prepared for any scenario involving EV’s. That is why we are partnering with the Delaware Valley Tesla Owners Club, a 501(c)7 not for profit organization independent of Tesla, to offer Verona and Essex County area first responders an interactive course on what to do in the event of an accident involving an EV, free of charge.

This three-hour course will cover how to ID and operate a Tesla, relevant security features, ID high-voltage components and how to disable a HV battery, methods for occupant access and extraction, fire-fighting recommendations for Li-ion batteries, hand-off to 2nd responders and so much more! It includes lunch, presentation, Q&A, handouts, hands-on interaction with Tesla vehicles and is approved for three elective EMT CEU’s in NJ and 0.25 technical CEU’s from the NJ Div. of Fire Safety. Registration is required and restricted to area first responders; emails with the registration link will be sent to area agencies.


Connect with Morris V. Prout and Prout Funeral Home

Do you have an idea for a future installment of the Morris V. Prout Lecture Series? Want to learn more about Morris’s involvement in his community? Give us a call at 973-239-2060 or email us at for more information on community events. And don’t forget to follow Morris’s adventures on Facebook and Instagram @morrisvprout !

Meet Morris!

All about My Job

Morris V. Prout in the News

Extra! Extra! Read all about Morris V. Prout in the News!

Morris V. Prout’s top priority is being a source of  comfort and calm to the families we serve at Prout Funeral Home. He’s a certified grief therapy dog with a lot of love to give so it’s not surprising to find him out and about in Verona and the greater Essex County community, turning heads. His sweet nature has even turned a few heads in the news:

Read on to learn more about Morris’s role here at Prout Funeral Home as a certified grief therapy dog and Director of Public Engagement, his ongoing Lecture Series and the benefits of grief therapy dogs.

Connect with Morris V. Prout and Prout Funeral Home

Follow Morris’s adventures on Facebook and Instagram @morrisvprout !

Q&A with MVP

One of the best parts of my job as a full-time Certified Grief Therapy Dog and Director of Public Engagement at the Prout Funeral Home is connecting with the people I meet. I’m often asked a lot of questions about who I am and what I do so I decided to sit down with my handler, Julia Prout, and answer some of your most pressing questions.


Q: Where were you born?

A: I was born in Indiana to my father, Snickers and mother, Mirage. I come from a long line of service dogs and therapy dogs on both sides of my family!


Q: How were you trained?

A: I was trained by Beth of Ultimate Canine in Indiana. Beth took me into her home as a young pup and taught me everything I know about being a great therapy dog. We went to schools, hospitals, hospices, nursing homes and I even interned with a grief therapy dog at a local funeral home!


Q: What does it mean to be a certified therapy dog?

A: I trained very hard to be the certified therapy dog I am today. I lived with my trainer and we worked full-time for months on obedience and commands. I even had to pass several rounds of testing to ensure I was ready for the job. At just seven months old, I passed all my tests and came home to my family at Prout Funeral Home in New Jersey where I trained them on how to be A+ certified therapy dog handlers.


Q: Why do you wear a vest?

A: My vest is my uniform- when I “get dressed,” I know that I am going to work and need to be on my best behavior. It also shows those who meet me that I am a therapy dog, ready to give lots of love and cuddles- unlike a service dog, I am here to be pet! Learn more about the benefits of grief therapy dogs.


Q: What do you do in your free time?

A: When the vest comes off, watch out! I am your average two year-old puppy- I love to play chase and tug of war with my family, squeak all of my toys as loud and fast as I can, go on long walks around Verona and play with my puppy friends!


Q: What is your favorite food?

A: I will try to eat anything and everything! While I love my kibble and treats, I especially like chicken, carrots and the puppy desserts Julia makes me.


Q: Do you have a favorite toy?

A: I love all of my toys but Ducky is my best [stuffed] friend.


Q: Why do you have a middle initial?

A: My parents (and Prout Funeral Home’s third generation owners), Meg and Bob Prout, first met in college at SUNY Morrisville in Morrisville, NY. When it came time to name me, Dad suggested “Morris V. Prout,” in honor of where it all began. Julia Prout likes to call me the family’s little “MVP!”


Q: What makes a good therapy dog? Can any dog be a therapy dog?

A: Great question! While all dogs provide comfort to their humans, not every pup is well suited to be a working therapy dog. It all boils down to temperament- are they comfortable in crowds? With strangers? Can they remain calm in difficult situations? Read more about what it takes to be a certified therapy dog here.


Q: What are the differences between a service dog, therapy dog and emotional support dog?

A: In short, service dogs go through intensive training to perform specific tasks for individuals with disabilities; therapy dogs like me provide emotional support in often stressful situations; emotional support dogs offer comfort to a specific individual with emotional or psychological conditions. It is very important to note that each category entails different levels of training and come with their own legal considerations as far as where they can and cannot go in public places. Learn more about these differences here.


Connect with Morris V. Prout and Prout Funeral Home  

Do you have questions for me? Feel free to send them to and don’t forget to follow my adventures on Facebook and Instagram @morrisvprout !