Service Dog

A war veteran returned home after serving his country overseas with post-traumatic disorder (PTSD). With the baggage of a psychological condition that affects a person for life, he found it hard to find happiness in his everyday life. His therapist suggested adopting a service dog to help him fight everyday depression and have a companion.

This is an all too common story where people in physical and emotional distress often rely on the companionship of the loyal dogs who help them deal with their daily battles.

These loyal companions are known as service dogs.

What are Service Dogs?

As per the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), service dogs are specially trained pets that assist their owners with disabilities and help them perform one or more tasks.

These disabilities can be physical, mental, intellectual, psychiatric, or sensory. Service dogs are also known as guide dogs, assistance dogs, and even hearing dogs.

Did You Know: As per a study by NCBI, animal-assisted therapy helps reduce pain-induced insomnia to a great extent.

Also read: Apartment Friendly Dog Breeds

Different Types of Service Dogs

There are different types of service dogs, each trained to support different types of disabilities. Here are some of the types of service dogs.

1. Mobility Assistance Dogs

People with physical disabilities use the help of mobility assistance dogs. These dogs help their owners perform their daily tasks like retrieving objects, opening doors, etc. Mobility assistance dogs are usually paired with human partners with disabilities like cerebral palsy, extreme arthritis, muscular dystrophy, etc.

Since these dogs are here to offer support to human partners with movement issues, they are usually large breeds, weighing at least 55 pounds. Some mobility assistance dogs have special harnesses that allow them to pull their partners who use wheelchairs, transfer them to different places around the house, etc.

2. Diabetic Alert Dogs

The diabetic alert dogs are trained to alert the partner of their extreme blood sugar levels. These fluctuations can either be hyperglycemia or hypoglycemia. Most dogs start alerting their partners by bumping softly against their legs, indicating to them to test their sugar levels or maybe inject insulin.

Some dogs are even trained to call 911 on the special K9 alert phones in case of unconscious human partners. Their vests usually carry the list of protocols to be carried out to help the first responders take suitable measures.

3. Hearing Dogs 

As the name suggests, these hearing dogs are meant to support their human partners who are deaf or can sparsely hear. These dogs are trained to understand the cues and lead their partners towards the noise. These cues can be fire alarms, doorbells, door knocks, alarm clocks, or maybe their names. Hearing dogs are usually fitted with bright orange vests to indicate that they are working.

4. Seizure Alert Dogs

These dogs help their human partners before, during, or after their seizures. They often alert their partners of an upcoming seizure, allowing them to settle down safely. During their seizure, they stimulate deep pressure to calm the seizure down and bring them their medicines when it passes. They also call for help with their K9 alert phone. 

Some medical experts and dog professionals have differing opinions about their ability to help with seizures. However, there is no doubt that their partners feel much safer with their companions next to them.

5. Autism Service Dogs

Autism service dogs are usually paired with children, helping them navigate through the conventional social setup. They help these children express themselves more emotionally and overcome their shyness to connect with their peers.

Autism service dogs also help children overcome their aversion to touch and make it bearable for them when embraced by friends and family. However, it is not always the case.

Another excellent thing autism service dogs are trained to do is track the child’s behavior and stop it by alerting the parents. These pet partners also prevent children from running away by raising the alarm immediately. 

6. Allergy Detection Dogs

These dogs are trained to detect the odor of allergens and alert their human partners. Pet owners often place the food item in front of their pets, and if they react, they probably have allergens in them. This ability helps them prevent their human partners from going into an anaphylactic shock.

Allergy detection dogs are often paired with young children to check for allergens in their food. These dogs usually smell the allergens even before the human comes in contact, thereby alerting them well before time.

Most of these dogs carry with them in their vests the medication and relevant information. These vests often have a patch, directing first responders in the right direction in case of an emergency.

7. Guide Dogs

One of the most commonly known service dogs, the guide dogs, are primarily reserved for their blind or low vision, human partners. They are technically the eyes of the individuals, helping them navigate the world.

A unique thing about these dogs is their ability to assess situations and judge based on the circumstance, despite the instructions given. The specific act of not following orders is known as selective disobedience, where the dog prioritizes his partner’s well-being over the instructions.

For instance, if the partner asks them to cross the road, the guide dog can disobey if cars are coming their way. Breeds like German Shepards, Golden Retrievers, and Labradors are the standard choice for guide dogs.

8. Psychiatric Service Dogs

Psychiatric service dogs are specially trained to assist individuals suffering from psychiatric issues like depression, anxiety, or PTSD. Thanks to their unique training, these dogs can observe changes in their owner’s behavior and alert them of an impending attack.

They usually sit close to them if the attack prevails, giving them deep simulation for comfort and reassuring them that they are safe. These service dogs also play the role of a barrier between their partner and other people to preserve their mental health.

Psychiatric service dogs are highly trained and do not fall under the category of regular pets. These are usually recommended by counselors and mental health experts and require documentation.

Read More About: How to Help a Dog with Separation Anxiety

These Service Dogs Will Always be there!

Thanks to their extensive training, these service dogs will never leave their human side. They are trained to perform incredible tasks that ultimately help individuals lead self-reliant and independent lives.

Take care of your Service Dogs with WaggleCam

When you leave your service dogs  home alone, ensure their comfort and safety using WaggleCam. It is a pet-friendly camera with multiple features, facilitating you to watch, talk and toss a treat to your pets from where you're. Stay connected with your fido 24x7, and don't give space for separation anxiety.

FAQs

What are service dogs?

As per the ADA, service dogs are trained dogs to help people with disabilities perform one or more tasks. These disabilities can be mental, intellectual, psychiatric, sensory, or physical.

Are service dogs similar to emotional support dogs?

Service dogs are equipped to support individuals with physical and mental disabilities and require extensive training. On the other hand, emotional support dogs offer emotional comfort to their human partners and do not require special training.

Can we approach service dogs?

Please don’t touch or interact with a service dog when they have their vest on or without the prior permission of their owner. Third-party interaction can distract them from their job that can directly affect their human partner.

What are the common breeds opted for service dogs?

Golden Retriever, Labrador, German Shepherd, Great Dane, Boxer, Poodle.

- Shefali Mathur