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According to Wikipedia – A service dog is a type of assistance dog specifically trained to help people who have disabilities. – But we all know that they are so much more than that!
Dogs are not just our best friends – they are our lifelong companions. They share our lives and provide us with unimaginable health benefits. Dogs have learned to understand us, follow our commands and help and guide us in different ways.
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What exactly are service dogs?
Simply put, a service dog is a trained dog that helps a disabled person to lead an independent life. They take away the burden and help the individual feel some normalcy in his/her lifestyle. According to American with Disabilities Act (ADA), they are classified as service animals and not pets.
Types of service dogs.
A Service dog or Assistant dog falls into 3 main categories. They are Guide Dogs, Hearing dog, and Service dog.
Guide dogs – They help people who are blind and visually impaired to navigate the surroundings. Common breeds include Labradors, Golden Retrievers, and German Shepherds.
Hearing Dogs – They help alert the deaf or hard-of-hearing persons with important sounds. Commonly Cocker Spaniel, Labrador, Miniature Poodle, Mixed breed Cockapoo are preferred by trainers.
Service Dogs – These dogs help people other than visual or auditory disabilities. They help to indicate changes in elevation, locating objects on command, retrieving dropped items, carrying items, opening and closing doors, providing a counterbalance or balance support, steadying a partner while transferring from a wheelchair, etc. They also help people with autism, seizures, diabetes or low blood sugar and other psychiatric disabilities. Service dogs can even bring medication to alleviate symptoms.
Common Service Dog Breeds
Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, Labrador Retriever/Golden Retriever crossbred dogs, and German Shepherd Dogs are among the most common dog breeds working as service dogs today in the United States. They vary from small to large depending on the task at hand. For example, a Papillon is not an appropriate choice to pull a wheelchair but could make an excellent hearing assistance dog or emotional support dog.
Nowadays, many service dogs are shelter rescues.
Difference between service and Therapy dog
Many think that service dogs and therapy dogs are same. But in reality, they are so very different. They follow one dog-one person rule. They are focused only on their owners only and free from all other distractions. Service dogs wear a special collar that identifies them separately. The public
Therapy dogs are different. One dog is for all. They visit hospital wards, assisted living centers, nursing home residents, and homeless families to bring them comfort and joy. They are obedient but very social. Therapy dogs are very open to hugs, pets and doggy kisses!
Is your dog Qualified to be a Service Dog?
Not every dog can be a service dog – Just like not all soldiers can be Seals or Delta. Moreover, service dogs must be reliable and regardless of breed need certain characteristics. Test out if your dogs can:
a) Calm and Friendly
b) Alert and not Reactive
c) Anyone can touch them, including strangers
d) Willing to please
e) Tendency to follow you around
f) Socialized to many different situations and environments
g) Ability to learn quickly and retain information
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