Service Dogs for Disabled children!

Assistance dog for disabled| dog helping children with autism| Anxiety in humans| Physically and mentally challenged people| Post Traumatic Stress Disorder(PTSD)| Therapy dogs 


In today's world, there are wide species of animals working as service animals providing a variety of services and support to those unprivileged people who are in need of help. While there are several animals used for the purpose but undoubtedly dogs turn out to be the best when the task is therapeutic for the disabled children. 

                                             
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The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) publication on Service animals states that only dogs should be considered as service animals and this is because of the fact that a trained therapeutic dog is seen to perform much better than any other species of animals. However, we should still give credit to some of the mentionable candidates of service animals such as cats, miniature horses, monkeys, and pigs.

Cats have been trained to signal or aware their deaf owners or to naturally predict seizures in a person right before it happens. Similarly, miniature horses are used with people having Parkinson’s disease or blind ones where the horse pulls the wheelchairs or act as some sort of support for them. Capuchin breed of monkeys also has been trained to perform routine tasks such as operating light switches, doorknobs, and others.

The National Survey of Children with Special Healthcare needs shows that 1 in every 5  children between the age group of 12-15 years have needs for special healthcare treatment and nearly 1.3 million people between the ages of 16-20 in the US have certain disability conditions prevailing. 

What is a Service dog?


There are wide breeds of dogs that have been trained to become a service dog, however not all perform well and one needs to select the breed very cautiously in the early days of puppyhood in order to train him for being a service dog and assisting his disabled owner one day. 

                                                
Service Dogs 

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Many times also it is seen that not only breed selection but each individual dog even of the same breed responds to the training in their own ways and then their individual temperament and characteristics come into play. 

Often a dog merely giving emotional comfort is also considered to be a Service dog, but according to ADA, only those dogs that are being trained to perform tasks and services for the people having physical and mental disabilities are to be considered as Service Dogs. 

                                                    
Service Dog helping blind owner  

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It is important to understand that service dogs although may seem to be a cute furry friend like every other pet, are not pets. These are working supports for the disabled ones. For the people having mental illness or disabilities, are now living a happy normal life back to schools or offices because of the presence of their Service dogs beside them make their everyday tasks easier to lead a normal life.
   
It has been studied that the sensation of touch of a furry friend around people has created a sense of Optimism and calmness in the human brain which is very good for a person's mental health. People mentally challenged especially children suffering from autism have shown tremendous improvement with the help of a Service Dog. 


How a Service Dog is raised and trained?

The basic requirement for a Service dog is that it should have good manners and even if not, he should be good at learning those in the beginning. This means he should not jump at people, no unnecessary barking, and do not show any sign of Hyperactivity. 

Most of the programs in the US start with the training of the dog only after the age of one year as these are mature enough for new learning. Also, these need to be well cleaned and groomed as these visits the hospitals and schools for their training sessions. 

Different therapy programs have different requirements but basics such as proper vaccinations of the dog with due course of time are necessary for all programs. A dog with a history of biting or any sort of aggression even towards an object is completely prohibited from the program as these tendencies or traits tend to interfere with their training and their capabilities to perform their duties when needed. 

                                                    
Service Dog comforting owner 

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Many therapy dogs to be a Service dog have to pass a Canine Good Citizen test carried out by the American Kennel Club. Besides obeying the common commands such as sit, jump, bark, down and stay, he also should accept strangers, accept petting, should not panic when taken into a crowd, should not have separation anxiety when owner staying away for a short period of time may be a visit to a doctor or anything else. 

Training Programs for dogs for the help of blind or deaf ones involves the creation of simulated environment or conditions which they would encounter during their service and helping their owners. A situation such as a coming vehicle, or a doorbell ring or visits to hospitals and schools, these dogs are trained for these and their performance is evaluated thereafter.

 After completing the training program, every dog has to perform a test taken by the authorities after which they are being certified as a Service dog. 

How can a service dog benefit society?

 
Every Dog which is considered to be fit for a service dog has its own skills and characteristics which differ dog from each other in terms of service they can provide. These services or tasks can be broadly divided into the following categories-

Guide Dogs 


This is perhaps the most known type of service dog which people know and is basically trained to help the blind or the visually impaired people. The most common breeds of dogs that are selected for guide dogs are Golden retrievers, Labradors, and German Shephards. 

Hearing Dogs


This category of a service dog is trained to alert their deaf owners to some specific sounds such as a doorbell, fire alarms, baby cries, and other sirens which may require the utmost attention in case of an emergency. These service dogs should be able to differentiate between loud noise and urgent calls. 

Psychiatric Service Dogs 

This is a very special category of a service dog as these provide both emotional and physical support to their owners. These basically those people suffering from Post-traumatic Stress Disorder(PTSD), anxiety, depression, and autism. 

These dogs are trained to perform functions which help their owners to manage themselves in case of a panic attack. These dogs can sense actions of their owners which are signs of a panic attack and the dog licks or put pressure on their chest to calm them down. These also can perform tasks such as reminding their owners for taking everyday medications.  

Assistance dogs for Physical activities 

This Category of Service dog is trained to perform activities for people on wheelchairs, prosthetics, or are physically disabled. These people having spinal or brain injury, arthritis or spinal Bifida use these service dogs for tasks such as wheelchair pull, handing over or fetching belongings in the house, opening drawers and cupboards, switching off lights, and many other tasks. 

                                               
Service Dog for people with prosthetics

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These kinds of activities, in general, are performed by breeds such as Labradors, Golden retrievers, Dobermans, and German shepherds. 

Seizure Alert Dogs

                               
Image Source-  Google | Image by - pikist
           

This type of service dog is used by people having epilepsy and seizure attacks. Although this fact is controversial, it has been seen that almost 15% of dogs have a natural tendency to predict a seizure or panic attack in a person. These dogs are being trained to alert their owners before a seizure attack so that they can be prepared for the same and can have arrangements in order to save themselves from any harm.   

 
 Assistance dog for disabled| dog helping children with autism| Anxiety in humans| Physically and mentally challenged people| Post Traumatic Stress Disorder(PTSD)| Therapy dogs 
 
 
 
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