What are Service Dogs?

Service dogs are a type of assistance dog, specifically trained to help people with physical mobility limitations to reach high or low places, or to open doors and turn on the lights. Other duties may include moving wet laundry to the dryer, or they may help in public by pulling a wheelchair up a steep incline.

Other service dogs may also be trained to detect medical problems and to warn the authorities. Some does have been trained to warn their handlers of seizures before they happen and to contact the medical emergencies by pushing a button (already preset to contact).

Service dogs have a very varied range of jobs and duties. Some handlers rely on their dog to pick up dropped items or reach high counter tops. Since the dog performs many physically demanding tasks, it is very important that service dogs be physically strong enough to keep up with his daily chores.

The majority of service dogs are Labrador retrievers, Golden retrievers or a mix of these two breeds. However, there are also German shepherds, Rottweilers and other herding, gun and mixed breeds working as service dogs.

Not every dog is up to the task of being a service dog. Although some service dog organizations breed dogs especially to serve this role, others adopt young adult dogs from shelters. The service dog is always matched with a person after he/she has been trained and is ready to help someone in need.

Since the range of physical limitations is great and vary differently from people to people, it is important that the dog is able to learn new behaviors and commands once he is placed with his handler.

Service dog handlers often rely on their dog for emotional support as well as physical help. For many people with disabilities, leaving their homes and interacting with the public is difficult. But having a dog at their side can give them comfort, confidence and security that they need.

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