Scientists have stated that back when human civilization was starting to tame animals for its help, dogs were the first to be domesticated and used as pets. Time and again, dogs have proven their importance in this society and shown their immense capabilities by helping and supporting humans in their daily lives. Non-disabled people keep dogs as their pets, but dogs have become the mental, emotional, and spiritual support and physical strength for people with special needs. This guide will help you navigate the process of how to get a service dog?
What is a Service Dog?
If you have this question what is a service do and what does it do? A service dog, also known as an assistance dog, specializes in helping differently able people. Professionals specially train them to guide and support their owners when in need. The Service dogs stay calm and composed while assisting and do not react negatively towards stimuli such as the presence of strangers, children running up to them, etc.
Service Dog vs Emotional Support Dog
Here are the differences between service dog vs emotional support dog. Service dogs are not considered pets as emotional support animals do. Professionals heavily train them for specific purposes. While service dogs are trained for certain determined duties on particular occasions, emotional support animals are specifically trained for individuals according to their own needs. Emotional support dogs behave collected and under control only in front of or for their owners. They help people with anxiety disorder, depression, or any psychological disorder to have a life of ease.
The people who own emotional support dogs train them for themselves and care for them. In contrast, emotional support animals do not want such high-end, legal comforts as service dogs do. Emotional support animals can be any animal that can be domesticated. They can be as small as hamsters and birds to as big as dogs and horses.
Types of Service Dogs
Compared to humans, dogs have superior senses. They can sense a threat, danger, and risks where the sixth human sense fails. They are emotionally, intellectually, and physically more susceptive than us. In order to train dogs as service animals, they must master one of the following types of behavior. These are the types of service dogs.
#1 Hearing Dogs
Hearing service dogs are selected and trained to guide people with hearing disabilities. They alert their owners upon hearing certain auditory triggers such as sirens, alarms, phone ringtones, etc. For instance, they can alert a deaf mother when her child cries. The dogs are trained to fit a particular lifestyle based on their handlers. They allow people with hearing impairments to feel responsible and confident.
#2 Mobility Assistance Dogs
People with disabilities such as paralysis or certain brain injuries use mobility service dogs in their day-to-day lives, where daily tasks such as pressing buttons, calling out for help, and any such activities are difficult to perform. They are also trained to support owners who face locomotive difficulties. Usually, these types of dogs are heavier and bigger than their owners. The standard height for a mobility assistance dog is 22″ (minimum), and the weight is required to be a minimum of 55 lbs.
#3 Seeing Eye Dogs
As the name suggests, people with visual impairment own well-trained seeing-eye dogs, commonly called guide dogs for the blind. They help their handlers by avoiding tragedies and accidents. They guide the owners while crossing roads, navigate any obstacle in a new place and escort them to the safest route available. Guide dogs boost the independence of disabled people in this challenging society by enabling them to walk more freely. It is important to note that dogs cannot check signals since they are color blind to red and green. Guide dogs are trained to avoid distractions.
#4 Diabetic Alert Dogs
They are also known as DADs for short. These dogs alert their owners when they sense any chemical imbalance in their blood sugar. Due to their high sensitivity to smell, diabetic alert dog breeds are able to detect fluctuations in human sugar levels. They notify this danger to them to avoid any unwanted situations. Even though DADs can’t replace regular medicated blood sugar monitors, for people who have Type 1 diabetes service dogs, owning such dogs can be life-saving.
#5 Psychiatric Service Dogs
These are service dogs for anxiety specifically trained for people with psychological disorders such as anxiety disorder, depression, or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Psychiatric service dogs help their companion avoid places or people who could pose a trigger. They aid their owners in taking better care of themselves. For people suffering from PTSD, Psychiatric assistance Dogs create a personal safe space for their owners in any public setting.
#6 Seizure Response Dogs
Seizure alert dogs help a person experiencing a seizure. They might alert the nearby people, and if the person loses consciousness in a compromised area or position, they will pull the person to the nearest safe spot. People who are highly epileptic may be able to use a special button on the collar of some seizure response dogs to alert authorities.
Best Service Dog Breeds
Not all dogs are equal; some are built intellectually, physically, and mentally difficult. Therefore, certain breeds of dogs are qualified to be service dogs. Some characteristics that are seen in service dogs include the ability to stay braced and not fickle-minded. They must be easy to train and learn quickly. Other factors include being reliable and composed.
Some popular and best service dog breeds are:
- Labrador Retriever
- Golden Retriever
- German Shepherd
- Great Dane
- Bernese Mountain Dog
How to Get a Service Dog?
As service dogs are not like regular dogs. They require special measures and certain criteria to meet. Service dogs are entitled under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The ADA provides rights for all differently able people to have service dogs to lead a life of dignity and independence. Owning an ADA Service dog can be a heavy investment. The steps that are to be followed for how to get a service dog include
#1 Setting Conditions
Getting hands-on with service dogs is more challenging than adopting or purchasing a normal dog. You need to have definitive documents on why you need a service animal. The patient’s doctor might accompany them to obtain permission. The severity of the condition advocates and allows the chances of getting a service dog. For example, a completely blind person who lives alone might qualify for the eligibility criteria compared to a partially blind person living with their family.
#2 Choosing the Breed that Suits
Determining the appropriate breed is a very crucial step. Considering the patient’s condition, a service dog with special training must be allotted. People who have psychological disorders can opt for small yet capable dogs, whereas people with physical disabilities must opt for heavier and bigger dogs for support and taking loads. Dogs like German Shepherds and Retrievers make good service dogs as they are reliable and intelligent.
#3 Choosing the Service Dog Provider
Various NGOs and government organizations are working to help differently able people live a life of comfort and independence by providing service dogs. Some sites are assistancedogsinternational.org, www.pawswithacause.org, etc. You can contact them via call or email to discuss your concern. They promise the best personalized assistance to everyone.
Despite their professional training, they still have animal instincts and needs. Make sure to provide them with a home where they are comfortable and feel welcomed. Provide them with nutritious food to maintain their fitness. They should have sufficient room to walk or run around to maintain their overall health. Their sanitation and health are very important. Service dogs have a specialized leash available to make them readily identifiable.
#5 Getting to Know
Once you get through legal service dog certification procedures and requirements, you need to familiarise the dog with the surroundings, their personal space, and things they need to know, such as the sound of the alarm. The essential part is to get to know them yourself. Let them know you, your immediate friends, and your neighbors. Service dogs need to know your routine, work schedule, triggers, and your overall life to check. It will take time to bond with them, but it will be worth it. The deeper the bond, the better they will react. There can be basic errors, but major blunders will be avoided swiftly.
#6 Alternative Way
Instead of going through the official procedure and engaging in legal matters or financial difficulties, you can train a dog yourself. Service dog training your pet will be a lengthy, tiresome process that lacks efficiency but will work fairly well. With the help of friends or relatives, one can train any dog to be a service dog.
So this is all about how to get a service dog guide?Life has always been difficult for people with disabilities, but having someone close by always helps to avoid fatal mistakes. Families and close relatives usually take care of them in the beginning, but this isn’t always the case. Some differently-abled adults choose to live alone and try to be free to live a stress-free and independent life. With the help of service dogs, they can be liberated from favors and complete dependence on others and live their own life. A dog is and has always been man’s best friend.