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8 Types of Service Dogs We Can Count On
There is a good reason why dogs have been deemed man’s best friend. Beyond being fantastic pets and companions, they have proven to be functional members as service dogs.
Dogs deliver where human beings falter. Because a dog’s ability to love is unmatched, they not only happen to be great support systems, but they never grow tired of doing so.
It is this very attribute that makes them shine when it comes to their undeniable worth as great service animals. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to state that in many cases, service dogs are the eyes and ears of their handlers, and support them in more ways than one.
Let’s take a look at some of the key roles these precious canines take up and in turn, contribute to the world in a very big way.
Also known as seeing-eye dogs, guide dogs are trained to help blind people navigate. You might assume that these service dogs are paired with their handlers at random. This is not the case at all.
When trying to assess whether or not a dog will be a good match for the handler in question, there are quite a few things to consider. Yes, the handler is blind, but they are likely to differ from other blind people when it comes to their lifestyle, hobbies, family, and even the fact that they may have other animals in their home.
Once a match is made at this basic level, hours are spent solidifying the bond between dog and handler. Labradors and golden retrievers are popular guide-dog breeds.
For people who are hard of hearing or hearing-impaired, hearing dogs come to the rescue! These amazing canines are known to alert their handlers to important sounds, be it smoke alarms, oven timers, telephones, crying babies, or doorbells. These dogs are trained to lovingly paw their handlers or owners and guide them towards the sound.
When outside, hearing dogs are highly observant of environmental sounds such as car horns even though they may not respond to them in obvious ways. In this case, handlers read physical cues exhibited by the dog and are thus able to glean important information about their present surroundings.
Dogs suited to this role include golden retrievers, cocker spaniels, Labradors, and even poodles.
Providing Mobility Assistance
People who have sustained injuries that have rendered them bed-ridden or physically disabled in some way, can look to Mobility Assistance Dogs for support.
Handlers facing severe mobility issues resulting from spinal cord injuries, muscular dystrophy, or arthritis are in a world of pain only a few can understand. Mobility Assistance Dogs are trained to support them by opening doors, fetching things, and helping them perform an array of other rudimentary tasks.
Labradors and golden retrievers are among the most favored breeds for this type of service dog, because they are strong enough to offer physical support should the need arise.
Truly a life-saver of epic proportions, these service dogs are trained to serve diabetic patients. They are able to detect when their handler has low or high levels of blood sugar.
At the onset of a hyperglycemic episode, dogs can ascertain that their handler’s blood sugar is very high. It is their keen sense of smell that allows them to do so. Conversely, it is the same attribute which lets them know when their owner is in the throes of a hypoglycemic episode, denoted by low levels of blood sugar.
Labradors, golden retrievers, and poodles are some of the dogs which are known to serve well in this role.
These service dogs are trained to recognize and pick up scents in their surroundings or in food that could cause potential harm to handlers.
As an example, consider people who have nut allergies. If an Allergy Detection Dog’s handler is allergic to peanuts, they will have the dog sniff any food they might want checked. If the dog detects allergens, it will either paw the handler or sit down in order to communicate this.
Seizure Response Dogs
Epilepsy is a common yet serious condition characterized by frequent seizures. It is a neurological disorder which can sometimes even result in a loss of awareness.
Because it is the intrinsic nature of epileptic seizures to come announced, service dogs offer immense support to their handlers.
Seizure Response Dogs assist their owner during and after an episode. These dogs are trained to find someone to help their owner, stimulate them to ‘stop’ the seizure, and physically move them in case they have succumbed to a seizure in a place that is unsafe and/or dangerous, such as while crossing the street.
Golden retrievers and poodles prove to be great Seizure Response Dogs.
Supporting Individuals with Autism
It is a well-known fact that autistic individuals need constant assistance as well as emotional support. Autistic children tend to be especially quiet and shy, which is why an Autism Support Dog may do wonders for their confidence and general mood.
Autism Support Dogs help children by serving as an ice-breaker, and essentially help them conduct themselves easily in social settings. These service dogs have also been known to keep children from running away. If a child does happen to run off, Autism Support Dogs are great at tracking them.
Labradors and golden retrievers are worthy candidates that check all the boxes in this category.
Psychiatric Service Dogs
Psychiatric Service Dogs are known to offer unending support to handlers suffering from any and all forms of mental illness ranging from depression and anxiety, to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and bipolar disorder.
These dogs are able to read their owner’s physical cues and tell when they are about to have panic attacks, bouts of anxiety, and the like.
Labrador retrievers, poodles, and German shepherds make especially good Psychiatric Dogs.
If there was ever any doubt in your mind as to why dogs are the best, this article has hopefully done a good job of clearing it. With all the support and love that dogs offer, it is no wonder that they’re in a class of their own.