Saturday, February 22, 2020

What is a “Service Dog?”

Pet Talk

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There are Service Dogs and Support Dogs, such as therapy dogs, emotional support dogs, etc. The difference between a Service Dog and Support Dog is that a Service Dog is trained to perform a specific task to help their handlers. In most jurisdictions, it is legal for service dogs to be in places that dogs are prohibited, while support dogs are not afforded the same privileges. Here are 10 types of service dogs. 

Guide Dogs 

Assistance dogs who lead visually impaired and blind people around obstacles. Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, and Lab/Golden hybrids are typically chosen as guide dogs, but other breeds have been successfully trained also. 

Hearing Dogs 

For people with hearing impairments, Service Dogs assist by alerting owners to noises such as alarms, doorbells or crying babies. When the dog hears the sound, they’ll touch their human and lead toward the noise. Labradors and Golden Retrievers are typical dog breeds that are often selected as hearing dogs 

Mobility Assistance Dogs 

Mobility types of service dogs perform a wide range of tasks for people with a wide range of mobility issues. Mobility assistance dogs bring objects to people, press buttons on automatic doors, serve as a brace for people who are ambulatory or even help pull a wheelchair up a ramp. These dogs help people increase their independence and confidence. They should be large enough to support their human partner. 

Diabetic Alert Dogs 

Also known as DAD, service dogs provide independence and security by alerting to chemical changes in blood sugar. The scent changes associated with hyperglycemic or hypoglycemic events in diabetics are imperceptible to humans, but not to dogs. These service dogs alert their people to blood sugar highs and lows before the levels become dangerous, so the individual knows to test his blood. Many of these dogs are trained to alert others in the household or set off an alarm system if their human needs medical help. 

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Seizure Alert Dogs 

Seizure alert dogs are one of the controversial types of service dogs. They react with a specific type of behavior right before the human has a seizure. The ability to alert to seizures seems to be a natural ability for a small number of dogs, although some neurology experts say there is no reliable evidence to suggest that dogs can reliably predict seizures. Many patients, families and trainers insist their dogs do accurately predict oncoming seizures. 

Seizure Response Dogs 

Not to be confused with seizure alert dogs, seizure response dogs provide help to a person experiencing an epileptic seizure. These dogs bark for help or press an alarm system during a person’s seizure. They can also get a person out of an unsafe place. And, they may bring medicine or a phone to a person who is coming out of a seizure. 

Psychiatric Service Dogs 

These types of service dogs assist people who are suffering from issues like depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder. People in this category can feel hypervigilant about their safety, and service dogs can make them feel safer by doing things like entering the home before the human and turning on the lights with a foot pedal. These dogs can also help PTSD sufferers who feel overwhelmed in public places by creating a physical barrier between the handler and others, giving the handler more personal space. PTSD sufferers also find that having a service dog to care for, forces them to also take care of themselves, by getting out into the world and getting exercise with their dog. 

Autism Support Dogs 

For kids on the autism spectrum, these dogs provide a sense of predictability as the children navigate social settings. The dogs can be a big help for kids who have trouble connecting with classmates. The dog acts as an icebreaker in social situations. They improve the child’s quality of life by reducing isolation and comforting the child in stressful times. These dogs are also trained to keep children from running away and can track children if they do runoff. 

FASD Service Dogs 

An emerging category of service dogs, these dogs support children who were exposed to alcohol prenatally and have been diagnosed with fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs). These children may have physical and mental difficulties, as well as behavioral problems and learning disabilities. According to 4 Paws for Ability, FASD dogs are trained similarly to autism service dogs.  

Allergy Detection Dogs 

Allergy detection dogs are trained to sniff out and alert to the odor of things such as peanuts or gluten. Often partnered with children, allergy detection dogs can be trained to alert to allergy-inducing smells at school. Allergy detection dogs provide kids with a greater sense of independence their parents a greater sense of security. 

I was surprised at the number of different Service Dogs there are. They are invaluable partners in day-to-day life of their handlers.  

Answer to last issues question: What building has the most stories? Answer: Library 

Answer this questionWhat does December have that other months don’t have? 

Send me your stores, I would love to hear them.  

Michael M. Neal is graduate of Ohio State University with a degree in Education with a major in Mathematics and a minor in Biological Sciences. He is an avid pet owner and nature lover. He is the owner of The Critter Café pet salon that offers grooming, boarding, daycare, obedience training and pet supplies on Marco Island. 

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