Dogs have historically been man’s greatest companion, be it at home or out in the fields. Their fierce loyalty added with a strong sense of belonging that dogs develop with their owners has made them excellent in terms of assistance towards the disabled or therapy for mental health concerns or other impairments. Dogs are always ready to lend a helping paw to their human beings, a trait that makes them excellent service or assistance dogs.
Assistance or service dogs are specially trained canines that help people living with physical and/or mental disabilities do everyday tasks and activities, offer companionship and aid in living a generally independent life. Service dogs often act as lifelines for their handlers by offering a great degree of freedom as well as a boost to their general well-being.
Let us find out more about the various types of service dogs and the kind of work they do to help their human beings.
1. Guide Dogs
The most common kind of assistance dog is “guide dogs” or dogs that are specially trained to assist blind and visually impaired people. They have been used for helping blind people for ages and this tradition cannot be traced back to when it originated. Labradors and Golden Retrievers are usually favored for this job because of their lovable, smart, and easily trainable personalities. Additionally, Labradors possess soft mouths that help them in picking things up for their owners.
2. Hearing Dogs
Just like dogs help those who are visually impaired, they can also be trained to assist people who are living with hearing impairments or disabilities. These super-intelligent service dogs can inform their owners of fire alarms, doorbells, oven timers, and even crying infants. Hearing dogs are trained to place a paw upon their owners on hearing a noise and lead them away or towards the sound, depending on the source of the sound. Golden Retrievers and Labradors are generally the preferred choices for this too but Poodles Miniature Spaniels have been used as hearing dogs in the past.
3. Seizure Alert & Response Dogs
Certain dogs can be trained to figure out when their handler is about to have a seizure following which they can call for help and position themselves in a way that their handlers can be protected during the episode. Large-sized service dogs can also move their owners away during a seizure if they are located in a dangerous place like the highway. Since dogs have a very keen perception of human emotions, they can be trained to identify the behavioral changes that occur right before a seizure and respond accordingly. Some dog owners have also claimed that their pet dogs have predicted a seizure successfully without any prior training at all.
4. Diabetic Alert Dogs
It is true that dogs have a very sensitive olfactory sense and can pick up on the remotest of scents but did you know that dogs can also pick up the smell of changes in your blood glucose levels? Diabetic alert dogs are dogs that have been specially trained to pick up on the changing smells of blood sugar levels so that they can inform their handlers when the blood sugar levels are too high or too low allowing them to take action on time. Some alert dogs are also trained to alert the family members of the handler in case of a medical emergency.
5. Allergy Detection Dogs
Dogs have a super-strong smelling sense and they can detect the slightest smell of allergens present in the environment. Allergy detection dogs are specially trained dogs who can smell the presence of allergens and alert their owners to avoid a potential reaction, making sure that they don’t go in contact with the source of the allergens. Allergy dogs are especially popular with children who gain a considerable amount of freedom while also remaining safe from harmful allergies.
6. Autism Service Dogs
People who suffer from autism often suffer in social situations. They can be greatly helped by Autism Service Dogs – specially trained canines who offer emotional support and stress release, as well as assist their handlers in connecting with people. Children that suffer from autism run the risk of running away or wandering off, and a trained service dog can protect them, keep track of them, and alert the mom and dad in case of an emergency.
7. Psychiatric Service Dogs
Psychiatric service dogs are assistance dogs who have been specially trained to provide assistance and emotional support to people suffering from mental health disorders. These dogs are typically employed by people suffering from PTSD, anxiety, or depression as they can make their handlers feel safer and also detect oncoming panic or anxiety attacks. Psychiatric service dogs provide their owners with their own peace of mind as they can be trained to ensure that locations are safe and secure before their handlers enter the place or by creating a barrier between them and other individuals in order to help them maintain their personal space.
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8. Therapy Dogs
Therapy dogs offer emotional support and assistance and as such, don’t respond to a specific handler and do not have the same degree of access to public spaces as other assistance or service dogs. They are usually taken out to schools, hospitals, orphanages, or mental health facilities to provide comfort and company. A lot of different breeds of dogs can be considered for this work given that they have the right temperament. Therapy dogs must remain calm in all situations, even around unknown people who may want to pet them.
These are all the various ways our four-legged friends help us out. Dogs have a special way of making human beings feel loved and secure which is why their presence goes a long way in helping cure both physical or psychological impairments.
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