Dogs have other important roles in society than just being one of man’s adorable companions. They’re not just there for you to play with or to guard your home. They are more than just working dogs that help other professionals out in their jobs, such as herding dogs and K-9s. They are also reliable service dogs to lots of disabled and sick people.
What is a service dog?
The Americans with Disabilities Act has certain provisions that allow specially-trained dogs to aid people with disabilities and perform tasks for them. These disabilities can be physical, intellectual, sensory, mental, or psychiatric in nature and limit one’s mobility and independence.
These canines are given full public access rights and can go to certain places other animals aren’t allowed, including public transport, libraries, and restaurants. This allows dogs to help disabled individuals lead independent lives. They undergo specialized puppy training that gives them the ability to perform particular tasks directly related to a person’s disability.
What are the different breeds that qualify as service dogs?
Dogs have a keen sense of smell that sets them apart from all other animals. This is one of their strengths that make them ideal working animals. But it takes more than just a sharp olfactory system to qualify as a service dog.
Service dogs are chosen according to the following:
- A dog has to be happy being active rather than just lying around at home
- A dog should have a calm and collected demeanor, especially in public and loud places
- A dog has to have a high level of intelligence that makes learning and performing complex tasks easy
- A dog must be friendly and non-threatening around other people and animals
- A dog must be able to form a strong connection with a handler to best serve its needs
Some of the ideal service dogs are:
- Golden Retrievers
- German Shepherds
- Great Danes
- Bernese Mountain Dogs
- Border Collies
- Portuguese Water Dogs
Where does one usually find a service dog?
Many individuals and organizations throughout the U.S. provide training for canines to become service dogs. However, their standards are a bit high, and the dropout rate for service dog training is in the 50 to 70 percent range. For those that don’t make the cut, plenty of homes are available for them.
Training dogs for service isn’t cheap. In fact, the typical rate for service dog training is $25,000. Understand that providing training to dogs is not an easy task. The cost covers specialized training for the dog, training for the handler, and follow-up training to ensure the dog’s working reliability.
Do all service dogs need professional training?
Under the ADA, it is not required for service dogs to be professionally trained. However, it is advantageous. If pet owners and handlers can’t afford a professionally trained service dog, they have the right to train the dogs themselves. Depending on the dog they have, they can start training them with foundational skills geared towards their special needs.
It is important to note that service dogs are not emotional support dogs. While both provide emotional support and companionship, service dogs have particular skill sets that cater to their handler’s disability and challenges. If you decide to train your own service dog, it should be tailor-made for your specific needs.
What are the different categories for service dogs?
Service dogs are classified into different categories. Here are a few of them:
Allergy detection dogs are specially trained to detect allergens and alert their handlers way before contacting them.
Autism service dogs are often paired with children and help them navigate social settings. They help people with autism connect and relate with other people on a more natural level.
Diabetic alert dogs are trained to detect potentially threatening blood sugar levels and alert their handlers about it.
Guide dogs are perhaps the most common type of service dog. They help visually challenged individuals get around. Unlike most service dogs, guide dogs are trained to obey their handler’s commands and make certain judgment calls based on their assessment of a situation.
Hearing dogs, on the other hand, are there to assist people who have hearing problems. They are trained to respond and react to certain auditory cues such as a knock on the door, a ringing phone, an alarm clock going off, or even smoke and fire alarms.
Mobility assistance dogs are typically paired with people who have brain or spine injuries, cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, and arthritis. They are trained to perform tasks such as opening doors, retrieving items, turning on lights, pressing buttons, and helping their owners get around in wheelchairs.
Psychiatric service dogs serve as companions to people with certain psychiatric issues like PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), anxiety, and depression. This proves that no other animal in the world can compare to dogs. Service dogs are just one of the many reasons they are chosen as pets worldwide and are worthy of the title man’s best friend.