Here’s What You Need to Know Before Getting a Service Dog

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Dogs play an important role in so many of our lives. As well as the physical benefits we get from exercising with our dogs outside, spending time with our dogs has many benefits for our mental and emotional health and can help us to manage stress and maintain a positive mood. For many people, however, dogs play an even more vital role in their daily lives. Service dogs are specially trained dogs that can help people with a range of physical, mental, and emotional needs. There are so many amazing service dogs around the world who help their owners to live happier and more independent lives.

In this guide, we will tell you everything you need to know before getting a service dog.

What is a Service Dog?

The? Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) defines a service dog as “a dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for a person with a disability.” There are a huge number of disabilities that can be helped with the addition of a service dog into someone’s life and in recent years, the number of people with physical or mental impairments that are using service dogs has increased significantly. 

The Process of Becoming a Service Dog

In order to become a service dog, there is a range of requirements that the dog must meet and in which they are trained. All service dogs must:

  • Be calm,
  • Be alert but not overly excited,
  • Be willing to please,
  • Be able to learn and remember information,
  • Be socialized to situations and different environments,
  • Be able to perform repetitive tasks reliably.

Dogs first receive in-house training where they learn the basic commands that they will need to follow and the various tasks that they will be required to perform. Once a dog is totally drilled on this, it is trained to perform the same tasks and follow the same commands in a new unfamiliar place. It is very important that a service dog performs exactly the same no matter where it is or what the environment is like. When it has shown that it is comfortable in unfamiliar surroundings, it is then trained to perform with unfamiliar people all around, with the sound and scent of other animals and with strange people trying to distract it. If it shows it can perform in these circumstances, it is ready to be assigned to its owner.

One thing that is important to note is that there is no legal registration for service dogs. These days, many people have started making fake registrations for their pets so that they can take them on planes or other places where animals are not usually allowed. Service dogs do not require any kind of registration but according to the ADA are the only animals permitted to accompany their owners in many locations and situations. Unfortunately, these fake registrations for untrained animals belittles the highly skilled talents of trained service dogs.

What are the Different Types of Service Dog?

Unlike therapy dogs or emotional support animals which do not usually undergo any specific training, service dogs are meticulously prepared for the individual needs of their owner. There are as many different service dogs as there are special needs and disabilities but here are some of the most common:

Guide Dogs

Guide dogs act like a flashlight to help visually impaired and blind people to overcome obstacles such as changing clothes, crossing the street and all the other daily tasks which may be difficult for them.

Hearing Dogs

Hearing dogs help to alert deaf people and those with hearing impairments to alarms, doorbells, text messages and crying babies. Hearing dogs are very important to their owners as there can be emergency situations that a hearing-impaired person would not be alerted to without their service dog.

Mobility Assistance Dogs

There are many people who benefit from mobility assistance dogs including people with spinal cord and brain injuries, wheelchair users, and people with debilitating arthritis. The dogs deliver objects, open automatic doors by pressing buttons and can even pull a wheelchair up a ramp.

As well as these, there are service dogs who assist diabetics, people who are prone to seizures, people with psychiatric issues, and children with autism and other emotional needs.

Service dogs are such wonderful members of society and do an incredible amount of goodwill. To acquire the necessary skills to look after their owners, service dogs undergo rigorous training that develops them into truly amazing animals. If you are thinking about getting a service dog, make sure to find a dog that matches your needs and your personality and it can dramatically transform your life.

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