An assistance dog is one who works for people with any type of disability such as blindness or deafness. These dogs are trained to do whatever their owner is unable to do because of their disability.
Some dogs are trained by professional trainers, while others learn from chosen inmates in prison. While the dog is being trained, the inmates also improve in socialization skills and in behavior. Dogs enrolled in assistance training who don't pass certain tests are not eligible to become a service dog, and are dropped from their training program.
While most stores do not allow dogs to enter their premises, service dogs are almost always permitted to enter for the assistance of the disabled person.
Here is a guide to the many different types of service dogs and their various jobs.
The Guide Dog
Guide Dogs are made for those who suffer from blindness, and are equipped to help their masters out by being their 'eyes' for them.
Guide dog schools were originally built in Germany during the first World War. The dogs were trained to help the returning soldiers who had been blinded in battle.
Golden Retrievers, German Shepherds, and Labradors are usually chosen to be guide dogs, as well as cross-breeds such as Goldendoodles (golden retriever and poodle cross) and Labradoodles (Labrador and poodle cross). The guide dog will wear a leash and harness.
The Hearing Dog
The Hearing Dog is trained to help people who are deaf. They assist their master by notifying them of sounds such as fire alarms, telephones, someone calling the person's name, etc.
Training time for a Hearing dog could be as little as three months, or as long as a year.
The Hearing Dog might wear an orange leash and sometimes a cape/jacket that is used to tell people that it is working.
The Psychiatric Service Dog
The Psychiatric Service Dog is trained to assist people with mental disabilities, such as Autism, Bipolar disorder, anxiety disorders, and others. A Psychiatric Service Dog may be trained to remind a person to take their medication, or to help stop repetitious behaviors that might cause injury. They can also lead people away from hectic, stressful places. They can retrieve objects, and also 'hold up' the person if he or she becomes dizzy.
Organizations who train Psychiatric Service Dogs are always in need of dogs to train and give to people with their impairment.
The Seizure Response Dog
The Seizure Response Dog is trained to assist a person with epilepsy. They can be trained to call for help if needed, taking away possibly harmful things from the person, provide physical and emotional support, try to make its master wake up after a seizure, and block objects so that its master with absence seizures won't run into them. Sometimes a Seizure Response Dog can detect an impending seizure.
Dogs who are being trained to become Seizure Response Dogs have to be perfect for the job. They must be capable of keeping control in any possible way. It is difficult to train a dog to become a Seizure Response Dog, and rare to obtain a dog who is fit for the job.
The Mobility Assistance Dog
The Mobility Assistance Dog is specially trained to do things to help a physically disabled person. These things include turning on light switches, opening and closing doors, picking up objects and taking them to the person, and sometimes even pulling a person in his or her wheelchair, depending on the weight of the dog. A different kind of Mobility Assistance Dog is trained to especially assist those who suffer from Parkinson's disease, sometimes called "Walker Dogs." They help the person to keep his/her balance while walking, and even act as a support to hold the person up if he/she falls so that the person can recover position and balance.
Sometimes a special harness is worn by a Mobility Assistance Dog made for pulling objects, such as wheelchairs.
The Child's Assistance Dog
The Child's Assistance Dog is trained to especially help handicapped children with diseases such as Muscular Dystrophy, Cerebral Palsy, Spina Bifida, and others.
The Diabetic Alert Dog
The Diabetic Alert Dog is trained to assist persons with Diabetes, usually Type 1. Diabetic Alert Dogs are trained to recognize and take action in the small scent changes that hypoglycemia (low blood glucose) creates in body chemistry, which humans cannot detect.
There are many different kinds of Assistance Dogs, each being trained to do specific things according to the needs of a person. For more information on Assistance dogs, if you should donate your dog to an assistance dog association, or how to acquire an assistance dog for your needs, please visit these links below.