Service dogs are a special kind of dog that are trained to help people with disabilities. They’re not like regular pets, who might be trained to do tricks or obey commands. Service dogs have been taught to perform specific tasks that help their owners with their disabilities.
They can be trained to open doors for someone using a wheelchair, fetch items for people who are blind or deaf, or even help people with autism communicate their needs more easily.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) defines a service dog as: “Any guide dog, signal dog, or other animal individually trained to provide assistance to an individual with a disability.” That means that any kind of animal can be a service dog—as long as it has been specifically trained to perform tasks that benefit its owner’s disability.
Service dogs often wear vests identifying them as such so that businesses don’t make assumptions about whether or not they are allowed in public places. They also come in all shapes and sizes—from dachshunds on up!
Types of Service Dogs
Not all service dogs are the same, though. Some are trained specifically for one task and not another, while others can perform multiple tasks at once. Let’s take a look at some of the most common types of service dogs:
Guide Dogs: Guide dogs are trained specifically to guide their handlers safely through public spaces and assist them with navigation. They may be able to help their handlers find their way around in unfamiliar places (such as airports) or around obstacles that might otherwise hinder movement (like stairs).
Medical Alert and Assist Dogs: Medical alert and assist dogs are trained to help their handlers with a specific issue, such as diabetes or PTSD. These dogs can sense when their handler’s blood sugar is low, for example, and will alert them by barking or licking them until they respond. These dogs can also be trained to retrieve medication for their handler during an episode of severe depression or anxiety. In addition to these tasks, medical alert and assist dogs may also be trained to detect other problems that require immediate attention from their handler, such as high blood pressure or heart issues.
Severe Allergy Alert Dogs: Severe allergy alert dogs are trained to let their owners know when they’re about to come into contact with something that their owner is allergic to. This could be anything from peanuts (which many people are allergic to) to bee stings, or anything else that might cause an allergic reaction. These dogs can often sniff out things like pollen or mold spores in the air as well, so if you suffer from allergies and have trouble knowing when it’s safe for you to walk outside without getting sick, this may be the type of dog for you.
Hearing Dogs: Hearing dogs alert their handlers when there’s an important sound going on in the environment—like someone knocking at the door or ringing a bell. They’re often trained with auditory signals (like bells or whistles), but some hearing dogs have been taught to respond to visual cues as well (like hand signals).
Psychiatric service dogs: these are used to help people manage mental health issues like PTSD or depression, as well as behavioral problems such as anxiety disorders and aggression.
Seizure alert and response dogs: If you have epilepsy or another type of seizure disorder, having a seizure response dog can mean having more freedom from fear of having seizures at inconvenient times (such as when you’re driving). These dogs can detect signs of an imminent seizure and warn their handlers so that they can take steps towards safety.
Are Service Dogs Protected Under Law?
Service dogs are protected under federal law under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). This means that businesses must allow service dogs on their premises unless it would cause them undue hardship (for example, if there are no bathrooms available for dogs). If a business denies a request to bring in a service dog, then it must provide an accommodation that doesn’t require bringing the dog in—for example, allowing the person to use his cell phone while shopping so he doesn’t have to risk leaving the store without being able to call for help if needed).
Common Service Dog Breeds
When you’re looking for a service dog, it’s important to understand that they are not all the same. Every breed has its own set of strengths, and it’s important to find one that fits your needs.
Here are some common service dog breeds:
Labrador Retriever: These dogs make excellent service animals because they are extremely intelligent, reliable and easy to train. They can be trained to do almost anything!
Golden Retriever: Golden retrievers are another great option for people who need a service dog because they have an excellent temperament, are very gentle and patient with children, and don’t require much exercise. They also tend to be very friendly with strangers.
German Shepherd: German Shepherds make great service dogs because they have strong protective instincts and are very intelligent—they can learn just about any command you want them to perform.
Poodle: Poodles are small but mighty! They’ve been used as guide dogs for decades because they have such incredible intelligence and natural instincts for doing so; however, poodles can also be trained as hearing aid dogs or seizure alert dogs due to their sensitive nature toward other people’s needs.
Collie: These dogs are known for being very affectionate and loyal, which makes them perfect for helping people with disabilities. They’re also hypoallergenic and don’t shed much hair, which is great for people who have allergies or just don’t like pet hair everywhere.
Where to Find The Service Dogs?
There are many different places you can go to find a service dog. You can go to an animal shelter or rescue group, or you can buy one from a breeder. If you choose to buy from a breeder it is important that they are reputable and have health tests for both parents and puppies.
If you choose to adopt from an animal shelter or rescue group you will need to make sure that the organization is reputable as well. I would suggest looking up reviews on Google+ or Yelp before making any decisions about where your new best friend will come from!
Once you have found your new best friend there will be many things that need to be done before they can start working with you. The first thing is getting them trained by someone who specializes in this type of training (there are many options available). After that comes paperwork and certification which must be completed by an official agency such as: UAAVA (United Amputee Association of America), Paws With A Cause (PWAC), or Canine Companions for Independence (CCI).
This can be one of the most difficult parts of adopting a new best friend as it can take anywhere from a few months to over a year. However, this is well worth the wait as it ensures that both you and your new best friend are properly prepared for the life-long bond that will come with each other.
What to Look out for When Searching for a Service Dog?
Here’s what to look out for when searching for a service dog.
1. Check their license: Service dogs are required by law to have a valid certification from their state or country of origin. This certificate will include information about their age, gender and breed as well as any certifications that they have received in order to perform their duties as a service animal. If the company doesn’t have this document on hand, it’s probably not a good sign!
2. Ask about training programs offered by the company: There are many different types of service dogs out there, each with specialized training requirements unique to its role performing tasks for people with disabilities such as autism spectrum disorders or PTSD symptoms due to military service. When interviewing potential organizations about their training programs make sure that they offer at least one course that fits your needs before committing yourself financially or emotionally (or both!).
3. Ask about the organization’s financial stability: A reputable service dog provider will be able to provide you with a complete list of their donors, or at least some kind of accounting for where the money goes when it comes in. You should also ask for an estimate of how much your dog will cost and what percentage of that price is covered by donations versus fees from clients.
4. Confirm that the organization has a good working relationship with local law enforcement and other disability rights organizations: While the ADA does not require service dogs to be certified by any particular agency, all service dog providers that are serious about their work will have close ties to both local law enforcement agencies and other disability organizations. You should ask if there is any kind of contract in place between your provider and either of these groups.
Service dogs are considered a reasonable accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). They can be trained to do almost anything, from guiding their blind owners to opening doors and retrieving dropped items.
But service animals are not just for people with physical disabilities. They can help with mental health issues as well, by providing companionship and support to their owners. Service dogs can also help those who suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) by alerting them when they’re having an anxiety attack, and helping them calm down through behaviors like licking or pawing at the owner’s hand.
Service animals can also help those who have difficulty communicating verbally, by giving verbal cues on behalf of their owners. For example, if you have autism or another disorder that affects your ability to speak, a service animal might bark when it needs to go outside for a bathroom break or jump up onto your lap when you need a hug.
If you think you’d benefit from having a service animal accompany you throughout your day-to-day life, talk with your doctor or therapist about whether this could be an option for treating your condition(s).