Friday, January 21, 2011
I bet you're asking WHAT a dog can do for a person who is disabled. A service dog can do many tasks, depending on the person's disability. A dog guide is the eyes for its blind handler, taking the handler around obsticles. A hearing dog alerts the handler to sounds, a Seizure Alert/Response dog responds when the handler has a seizure, and a Mobility Assist Dog (also called a Service Dog), is the arms and legs for a disabled person. A psychiatric service dog keeps a person with an psychiatric disorder calm and able to be going to out in public. For more specific examples, please see the Assistance Dog part of this page.
Many people have seen Guide dogs in their daily lives, guiding their handlers expertly around obstacles and across streets. There are, however, dogs that help someone who is deaf, in a wheelchair, using crutches, and for many other disabilities.
The main types of Assistance Dogs (called Service Dogs in the Americans with Disabilities Act and many laws), are:
Probably the most familiar type of service dog is the guide dog that is trained to help blind or visually impaired people. These dogs serve as the eyes for their owner, navigating them through traffic, stairs and sidewalks while avoiding all obstacles that could cause injury.
Similar to guide dogs, "hearing" or "signal" dogs are specially trained to assist deaf people. They alert their owner to sounds, usually by approaching their owner and then by going back to the source of the sound. They signal such noises as doorbells, phones, smoke alarms, crying babies, microwave bells and even tea kettles whistling. These dogs have the same access privileges as guide dogs and are permitted in all public and private facilities.
Service Dog is the catch all term for any dog that helps a physically or mentally disabled person. You have the following catagories:
Mobility Assist Dog: Pulls a person's wheelchair, carries things in a backpack, picks up things a person drops, opens/closes doors, helps the handler get dressed or undressed.
Walker Dog: Helps the handler walk by balancing or acting as a counter balance. Does many of the tasks that the Mobility Assist Dog does.
Seizure Alert/Response Dog: This dog is trained to respond to a person's seizures and either stay with the person, or go get help. Some dogs are trained to hit a button on a console to automatically dial 911. When the dog hears the voice over the speaker, the dog starts barking. The disabled person would have arranged that the system is dog activated.
Psychiatric Service Dog: A person with a mental disability may need a dog to be able to go out in public (agraphobic), or may be autistic and need the dog to keep them focused. These dogs are trained NEVER to leave their handler's side. For more information on tasks that a dog can do, go to the IAADP PSD Info page.
SsigDog: A dog trained to assist a person with autism. The dog alerts the partner to distracting repetitive movements common among those with autism, allowing the person to stop the movement (e.g., hand flapping). A person with autism may have problems with sensory input and need the same support services from a dog that a dog might give to a person who is blind or deaf.
Combo Dog: Some programs, Paws With A Cause, for example, have started training dogs for people with multiple disabilities, like a guide/mobility assist dog.
Also, "service animal" is the legal terms for ANY animal that assists someone who is disabled, therefore, a guide dog is also a service dog/animal.
Like guide and hearing dogs, service dogs of any type, are allowed in public when accompanying their disabled handler.
This list is not the ONLY things that dogs can be taught to do.