Autism Service Dogs, Emotional Support Animals & Therapy Dogs | Interview with Caitlin Bird

I know there’s a lot of confusion over how animals can be used to help children with autism, so I asked Caitlin Bird to come and share her expertise with us today. Having majored in Integrative Animal Biology with a minor in Psychology, Caitlin decided to help teach parents how to train their own autism service dogs for their children with autism.

One of the most surprising things I learned in this interview is that each of these kinds of animals have very distinct jobs and abilities to where they are allowed to go based on law. Emotional support animals can be any kind of animal, from the expected dog to a goldfish or even an iguana. Caitlin really clears up any confusion about the terms, certifications, and laws surrounding these animals.

The phrase “service dogs” is an umbrella term for all of the different types of dogs that help a person live their daily life, whether that’s a diabetic dog, PTSD dog, allergy dog, or autism service dogs. But no matter what kind of dog it is, they’re all given extensive training to help a person live as close to normal as they can.

The choice of whether to get an autism service dog will have to be one that a family weighs very carefully. There are so many considerations to take into account including the behavior of the child, the overall atmosphere of the home, the temperament of the dog, and how committed the family is to training the dog to be obedient. This could be a great option for some families who would like to explore how autism service dogs could help their child.


Caitlin Bird coaches parents to train their own autism service dogs for their children with autism so that they gain greater independence in their daily lives.

When growing up, Caitlin was influenced by the 1967 musical “Doctor Dolittle” and in pursuit of becoming a “Dr. Dolittle” herself, she pursued a training career teaching alpacas through zebras. Caitlin graduated college with an Integrative Animal Biology degree and minor in Psychology.

Caitlin also offers a free online live workshop, Service Dog Prep, for individuals that are ready to learn more about choosing, raising, and training a new puppy or current dog as a fully competent and highly skilled companion that is able to open the world in a greater capacity for their child with autism.


  • The difference between an emotional support animal and a therapy dog.
  • When and if you need a doctor’s note or a certificate when going out in public with your support or therapy dog.
  • Some different ways an autism service dog might be able to help a child or adult with autism.

Start making a difference for your child or client with autism or signs of autism through free training!

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