In the United States, disabled individuals with service dogs are guaranteed legal access to all places the general public is invited. Because service dogs can go where we go, a service dog can:
* Assist in daily living activities
* Stimulate an individual to be more active and social
* Improve opportunities to gain meaningful employment
* Encourage an individual to become more independent, giving them a greater sense of pride
* Make a safer home environment
The legal requirements to classify a dog as a service dog are:
1) The handler is a person legally disabled according to the ADA.
2) The dog is specially trained to perform work or tasks to mitigate the person's disability.
3) The dog is trained to rigorous standards of behavior in public situations.
While guide dogs help people with visual impairments, and hearing dogs help people with hearing impairments, service dogs help people with physical disabilities unrelated to vision or hearing. With special training these dogs can help mitigate many different types of disabilities.
Dogs can be trained to work with people who use power or manual wheelchairs, have balance issues, have various types of autism, need seizure alert or response, need to be alerted to other medical issues like low blood sugar, or have psychiatric disabilities. These specially trained dogs can help by retrieving objects that are out of their person's reach, by pulling wheelchairs, opening and closing doors, turning light switches off and on, barking to indicate that help is needed, finding another person and leading the person to the handler, assisting ambulatory persons to walk by providing balance and counterbalance, providing deep pressure, and many other individual tasks as needed by a person.
There are two basic methods for service dog training, self-trained and agency trained.
The most common one, is the later, to purchase a trained dog from a service dog training program.
Local programs include:
Can Do Canines Hearing and Service Dogs of Minnesota
Web Address: www.can-do-canines.org
Helping Paws, Inc.
Web Address: www.helpingpaws.org
Pawsitive Perspectives Assistance Dogs (PawPADs)
Web Address: www.PawPADs.org
With the help of a professional dog trainer, you can do the assistance dog training yourself.
I can help you train your Service, Psychological Assistance, Diabetic Alert, Autism support, and Social/Therapy dogs.
If your dog will be working in public, the dog will be held to Assistance Dogs International, Inc. Minimum Standards for Assistance Dogs in Public and / or International Association of Assistance Dog Partners Minimum Training Standards for Public Access.
If you already have a dog which would like to consider for training, please contact me for an evaluation.