04 Mar Service Dogs 101 — Life-Changing Companions
Working dogs make a big difference in our life. They work in airports assisting TSA agents, help out police officers, and even serve in the military.
But civilians with disabilities can also benefit from a partnership with a professional service dog.
Service dogs used to be relegated to Seeing Eyes and were almost exclusively German Shepards, but today, all that has changed. Both the reasons for requiring a service dog and breeds that can help have expanded.
So let’s break down what a service dog can do and who they can help.
What Is A Service Dog?
According to the Americans with Disabilities Act, a service dog is specifically trained to assist a human with either a mental or physical disability. This animal should not be considered a pet, but as an intuitive companion that is an extension of its owner.
Do not pet any canine with a vest identifying it as a service animal as you could confuse it, or it could become aggressive to protect its owner.
What Can A Service Dog Do?
There is a wide range of tasks that a well-trained dog can do.
You probably already know about Seeing Eye dogs that assist blind or vision impaired people move around safely. But did you know there are also dogs trained to help humans hear? Yes, some dogs will jump or give paw to alert their deaf owners to important sounds.
Medical Alert Dogs are trained to spot symptoms of medical issues. Some of their noses are so sensitive to smell they can identify Diabetes even in an undiagnosed person. Others can sense when a seizure is about to begin and get help before it’s too late.
People with mental illnesses like obsessive-compulsive disorder, autism, PTSD, or schizophrenia, can benefit from intuitive furry friends as well. Dogs can be trained to interrupt repetitive movements, close doors, turn on lights, or even remind their owner to take their medicine on time.
It is impressive and surprising all the ways dogs can improve the health of those in need.
Who Qualifies For A Service Dog?
Before pairing up with one of these super pups, there are a few parameters that must be met. The patient’s disability must fall within the ADA’s definition of physical or mental disability. Mental disorders include anything in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition, or DSM-5.
A licensed medical professional must officially attest to the patient’s diagnosis and provide proper documentation before moving forward to register a service dog. This doctor must also declare that the best way to improve the patient’s life is through the use of a service dog.
How Are They Trained?
While these animals will be specially trained from birth for their specific skill set, it will still take time for the owner to get acquainted. The dog needs to spend months learning everything about its owner with the help of a trainer before a lifelong partnership begins.
Not all pairings are successful either, it is not uncommon for someone to try out several dogs before finding the right match.
What Is The Cost?
Unfortunately, insurance does not cover the price for a service dog or the associated costs of training. The average total price is about $20,000, so before you take out a loan, be sure this is the right choice.
Expand Your Possibilities!
If you or a loved one are suffering from a disability it can be a smart idea to consider these superhero canines.
Now that you are informed on all the amazing ways these dogs can make a difference, talk to your doctor and see if you qualify for this life-changing partnership.