A service dog is any dog whose job is to assist people in different situations. If you have a disabled child, a person with impaired vision or hearing, a person who is immobile or bedridden, a person who suffers from anxiety or depression, or has a medical condition such as diabetes, your dog is a service dog and is entitled to the same protections under the law as any other dog.
A person may apply to become a service dog; however, the person must be a dog owner or co-owner. If you are the owner, you are the primary caregiver for your disabled child. Therefore, you are responsible for the care of your dog and helping your child adjust to life with a disability. The best way to help your child is to get your dog trained.
Service Dogs Categories
Assistance dogs are highly trained dogs that perform tasks such as pulling a wheelchair, guiding a blind person through dark spaces, providing security for a person experiencing an anxiety or panic attack or trembling, aiding a person experiencing a form of schizophrenia, or keeping an alcoholic home during a recovery program.
Therapeutic dogs are trained to provide love and affection to people in difficult emotionally charged situations such as nursing home living, when someone has recently lost a loved one or has experienced a traumatic experience. These dogs also encourage people to be social.
Service Dogs – Assistance Dogs
These dogs have been trained to perform a specific task that assists a person who has a disability, such as physical impairment or a mental illness. Examples of these tasks include feeding a person paralyzed from the waist down, providing security, and helping to control tremors.
The Department of Justice defines a service dog as any dog that is considered a therapy or training dog.
To be a Service Dog, a dog must be individually trained and certified to do something for a person with a disability. The disability may be temporary and debilitating. Examples of disabilities that would qualify a dog for service are:
* Swimming * Walking * Pedicure * Bed washing
Service dogs must also pass state inspections that test the dog to ensure they are safe and reliable. These inspections include training the dog to recognize specific sounds associated with fires or other emergencies. These inspections also ensure the dog is safe at home and its handler’s home.
Many laws govern the owning or training of dogs to be Service Dogs and finding a dog that meets the legal definition of a Service Dog can be a challenge. Here are a few things to consider:
* The dog must have been trained to do the job and certified by the American Kennel Club. The AKC offers an examination that tests the dog’s ability to recognize, respond and act in a way that is consistent with the handler’s commands.
* A certification from a third party is necessary to legally own a Service Dog. Examples of these certifications are from a psychiatrist, trainer, kennel, or shelter.
* The dog must also be able to perform the service freely to be certified. Examples of this certification are from a charity or organization that accepts donations.
These guidelines are good but are not a guarantee that your dog will be a Service Dog. As stated above, many laws and guidelines must be followed. It is always best to research the dog’s background and its compatibility to determine if it will be a good fit for your household.
The AKC also offers tests and certifications that test dogs to ensure they can do other things which are not service-related. These include tests to determine the ability to discern or identify smells, detect or identify animals, detect illnesses or tumors, and detect drugs. This is so that a dog can assist someone in need to restrain a person or animal.
Remember that if the dog is certified, and passes a test, then it has passed all the tests needed for the certification. There is no guarantee that the dog will pass a test.
Keep in mind that a dog may not pass all the tests necessary for all the roles the dog will be tasked to perform. Each service organization may require a different type of certification. A dog that excels in a particular role may be allowed to keep its certification for that role.
What is important is that you choose the dog certification that best suits the job the dog is to perform. A dog that will be required to restrain an individual or a dog that is to alert an organization for incidents may be given certification for that specific role.
Choosing a certification that best suits the task of the dog can be done by researching the dog registry regarding the dog certification standards of the service organization or role.
Do not rush a certification as it can increase stress on the dog and lead to long-term damage to the dog.