A service dog must be trained individually, to do specific work assisting his owner, a person with disabilities. His training must have a direct correlation to his handler's disability. The Americans With Disabilities Act specifies that service dogs be allowed to escort their owners in any public place that doesn't allow pets. They are not required to wear an identifying vest, but they must be under their owner's control and on a leash.
Mobility Assistance Dogs
Mobility assistance dogs assist owners who have physical disabilities. They are trained to turn lights off and on, pick up dropped items and pull wheelchairs. They can retrieve items such as remote controllers, phones and medications. Mobility assistance dogs can help their owners get dressed and undressed. A handler may use his service dog for support while moving in and out of a wheelchair, or to help them get up from the floor after falling.
Guide dogs were the first service dogs ever used. A Guide dog assists an owner who is blind or has limited vision. He helps his owner navigate, both in the home and out. A guide dog can steer his owner around potholes and other obstacles. He will guide him across streets and through crowds, avoiding dangerous situations, such as moving vehicles and bicycles. He can retrieve dropped items and locate misplaced items for his handler.
A hearing dog assists an owner who is deaf. He alerts his owner when someone calls their name. The hearing dog is trained to let his owner know when the phone or doorbell rings, the microwave dings or the oven timer goes off. He can alert his owner to a smoke alarm and assist him to safety if neccessary. He will warn his owner of horns honking and approaching dangers .
Medical Assistant Dogs and Psychiatric Service Dogs
A medical assistant dog can be trained to help an owner who has cancer, epilepsy, asthma or Alzheimer's disease. He can warn his owner in advance of an impending seizure, possibly giving him time to get help. The medical assistant dog can move his owner to a safe place and bring him medication. A psychiatric service dog is a therapeutic companion to an owner who suffers from PTSD, depression, panic attacks, anxiety or agoraphobia.
Karen Mihaylo has been a writer since 2009. She has been a professional dog groomer since 1982 and is certified in canine massage therapy. Mihaylo holds an associate degree in human services from Delaware Technical and Community College.