We all know that dogs give out the best company in the world. These furry friends are famous for being the ultimate man’s best friend, for they are very affectionate, friendly, loving, and protective of their pack.
Their presence and characteristics provide the people around them warmth and calm that can help ease your stress and anxiety.
Great news ahead! Dogs can now be trained to assist those who need them, especially those with disabilities and mental health issues.
As they are called, service dogs are trained dogs that provide tasks that are disability-related for their owners. Their services go beyond emotional comfort alone as they can be very responsive and sensitive to their owner’s body language.
Dealing with the everyday struggles of life alone can be challenging and stressful, but having a best friend and a paw baby at the same time can make things bearable.
Eight types of service dogs can be of assistance to people with disabilities or mental health issues. Read through the article to know more about these service dogs!
1. Allergic Alert Dogs (AAD)
As mentioned in their names, Allergic Alert service dogs are fit for owners who have severe and deadly allergies to gluten, peanuts, and even shellfish.
We all know that living with allergies is such a struggle, so having someone who can warn and monitor you can come in handy.
These service dogs can help their owners determine if the allergens are present in the food they are about to eat and alert their owners.
Since dogs are well known to have powerful olfactory nerves, you won’t doubt that they can level up their game and use this strength to assist and help prevent their owners from having an allergic reaction.
Allergic alert dogs also wear vests that are filled with medications needed in case an attack occurs.
Their vests have huge imprints, reflective patches, and bags that owners can use to put medications or any other important documents related to the owner’s allergies.
Most breeds that are usually trained for this line of work are Retrievers and German Shepherds.
2. Mobility Assistance Dogs
Mobility assistance dogs are service dogs trained to assist owners who are physically disabled, like those who have mobility issues that need a wheelchair and those who have poor balance.
These service dogs are those who can provide balance and stability to their human.
These dogs are usually strong enough to pull a wheelchair, carry or assist in carrying body weight, open and close doors, switch on or off lights, and carry or fetch objects when asked.
Mobility assistance dogs also wear specialized vests where owners can attach their cane-like handles and have the service dogs guide while walking for their gait or even for their balance.
These service dogs can be of great help as they can be brought to places where pets aren’t usually allowed to assist their owners in moving.
Large breed dogs are typically trained to execute the services provided more because of their size.
3. Autism Service Dogs
Autism service dogs are for children and adults who are diagnosed with autism. Some people diagnosed with autism sometimes need special assistance, and as unique as they can be, finding the perfect autism service dog can be wonderful.
These dogs are trained to perform not just physical but also psychiatric tasks to help their owners.
These dogs are trained to help their owners with regard to their safety. These dogs’ superior sniffing powers can be used to follow their owners’ scents and locate them during search and rescue.
Autism service dogs may also wear a tether or a leash that is attached to a child or adult with autism to wear or hold. This can help in keeping their owners safe and preventing their wandering.
Autism may also cause repetitive behaviors that may be difficult to stop, especially for children. An Autism service dog may be trained to respond to the child’s repetitive behavior.
Apart from those, these dogs can also be trained to provide assistance, security, and comfort during breakdowns.
These dogs offer calmness by being there and making their owners feel that they are not alone. These dogs wear vests that contain contact and emergency information of their owners as well.
4. Diabetic Alert Dogs (DAD)
Diabetic alert dogs, also known as diabetic service dogs, are trained to alert you if your blood sugar has become too high or dropped too low. How can this be possible?
Well, their sniffing powers! Diabetic alert dogs are able to sniff the slightest change in their owners’ blood sugar.
Studies say that dogs are able to smell the difference through their owners’ breath, saliva, and sweat.
This way, these service dogs will be able to alert their owners to do appropriate management, such as checking their blood sugar level, injecting insulin, or consuming glucose as needed.
Diabetic owners who have these types of service dogs feel very satisfied and less anxious because of how their dogs assist them.
Having diabetic alert dogs makes them experience having less time in worrying if they would be passing out from low blood sugar or have complications because of high blood sugar.
5. Hearing Dogs
Hearing service dogs are specifically trained for owners whose hearing is severely impaired. Apart from companionship, these dogs serve as their owners’ ears.
Hearing dogs are trained to alert their owners to the sound of doorbells, alarm clocks, fire alarms, telephones, and even babies’ cries.
These service dogs warn their owners by making physical contact, such as nudging or using their paws for attention. Most of these service dogs are even trained to guide their owners towards the source of the sound.
These service dogs are very helpful, especially outside the house, as there are many dangers that a single street may hold. The owner may depend on their service dogs’ response or reaction as this can mean something.
Hearing service dogs may also alert their owners of car horns to prevent accidents. These service dogs provide their owners a sense of security and independence that some hearing assistive devices can’t give.
6. Seizure Response Dogs
Seizure response dogs are service dogs that are trained to respond to people experiencing seizures, specifically those who have epilepsy. These service dogs contribute a lot to their owners’ safety and security.
According to owners, having a seizure response dog enhanced their quality of life, increased their independence, and found therapeutic care in having one.
As their name implies, seizure alert dogs are trained to respond to an occurring seizure by keeping their owners safe and lying next to them to prevent injury.
These dogs place their body between their owners and the floor to avoid a fall at the beginning of a seizure, provide comfort and support by staying beside their owners, retrieving medication, or even activating a device to alert people that a seizure is currently happening.
Over time, seizure dogs can also alert their owners or even another person if a coming seizure will most likely occur.
7. Post-traumatic Stress Disorder Service Dogs
Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a stress-related disorder that may be developed from being exposed to traumatic experiences in the past.
PTSD service dogs are the perfect companion for people who suffers from this disorder. These service dogs are trained to provide their owners a sense of security, comfort, and confidence.
Their presence may give off the feeling of being guarded, especially when outside. These dogs may also be trained to wake up their owners from a nightmare and embrace them to calm and make them feel safe.
They can also remind their owners when it’s time to take their medications. Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, or German Shepherds are breeds that can be trained to be this type of service dog.
8. Guide Dogs
Guide dogs, also known as seeing-eye dogs in the United States, are service dogs trained to assist blind or visually impaired owners.
Guide dogs make it easier for their owners to go around as they provide vital guidance for moving. They help their owners go through obstacles, prevent accidents, and alert them if something is in their way.
The companionship of these service dogs reduces anxiety, worry, and loneliness for their owners as they know that someone is with them and is willing to keep them from harm.
How to Get a Service Dog
Now that you’ve come to know the different types of service dogs, each type depends on where you can get one. Service dogs are four-legged companions trained to do tasks specific to their owners’ needs.
They are the only legally considered service animals and the only animals trained to provide such service.
For you to have one, you will need a recommendation letter from a licensed psychiatrist or a medical doctor regarding your mental or physical situation.
Once you’ve got the letter, you can coordinate with several service dog training companies to get a service dog perfect for you.
You can also get an Emotional Support Animal (ESA); these animals are not limited to having a dog, as cats can be considered an ESA as well.
A signed letter from a licensed psychiatrist or therapist stating that you are experiencing a mental health condition is needed for you to be qualified to get one.
The difference between service dogs and ESAs is that ESAs are not specifically trained for their owners’ condition. These animals provide emotional comfort and calm, unlike service dogs that may go beyond.