Whether it’s offering companionship, lending practical support or giving people confidence and independence when they need it most, service dogs enhance and assist lives all over the globe. Read on to discover more about the invaluable impact these extra special dogs can have.
Service dogs are specially and carefully trained to help people, with a broad range of specialties that they can be taught, depending on the situation, disability or needs of the person they will aid. They will usually undertake specialised health and temperament screenings to ensure they are suited to the role. Whilst any breed of dog can become a support dog, service dogs are commonly German shepherds, Labradors and Golden Retrievers as they are a good size for the tasks they’ll undertake, and have a natural instinct to retrieve and help, which is essential.
These highly intelligent dogs can make all the difference, from helping people with mobility issues, being on hand and prepared for people with medical conditions or to guide those who have impaired sight or hearing. For people with disabilities, service dogs are specially trained to assist with daily tasks and everyday life, from switching on lights to pushing wheelchairs. Service dogs that support people with sight or hearing impairments will help by physically guiding them or giving signals, giving them independence and support in activities that might otherwise be challenging to navigate.
Beyond offering essential and practical support, assistance and service dogs can also offer emotional support to those suffering with PTSD, social anxieties and developmental disabilities like autism. These loving animals can often offer an increased sense of belonging, alleviating feelings of stress and loneliness and creating a life-changing impact on the individual and those around them.
Some of the ways service dogs support people in wheelchairs or with limited mobility
- Provide physical support, helping people switch from one position to the other
- Practical tasks, like pressing buttons, paying cashiers and picking objects up
- Helping with balance
- Offering a greater sense of security if they fall, helping them sit or stand
Some of the ways service dogs help aid with epilepsy and other medical conditions
- Service dogs can be taught to detect the onset of a seizure
- Signalling when they sense the onset of a seizure and staying close during the seizure
- Some may carry medical supplies or information
- The dog may seek help or attention if necessary
Some of the ways service dogs assist blind people
- Navigate dimensions of doorways, visually measuring the height and weight of doors
- Alert their handler if there is danger, using signals
- Travelling and walking safely, avoiding obstacles and crossing roads
- Stopping at kerbs and using steps safely
These hardworking dogs dedicate their lives to making other lives more comfortable, training for long stretches of time and prioritising their handler’s needs and safety above all else. It can take time for a human and a dog to find the right rhythm, but the outcome is a faithful companion and great, trustworthy service provider.