Dogs are some of the greatest companions. They can add so much to our lives, and some special dogs can actually be trained to save lives. September is National Service Dog Month, and so we are celebrating our four-legged friends and the many jobs they can perform.
What can a service dog do?
Service dogs are not limited to seeing-eye dogs or partners for the disabled. People suffer from many medical conditions that can benefit from a service dog’s support, such as:
- Diabetic alerts
- Seizure alerts
- Allergy alerts
- Medical alerts
- Autism assistance
- Brace and mobility support
- Psychiatric service
Service dogs grant independence, sight, hearing, mobility, and peace of mind to their handlers. They can form an unbreakable bond built on trust. While all dogs are marvelous creatures, service dogs are in a special class.
Can my dog become a service dog?
Any dog can become a service dog, but she must have the proper temperament, good health, and the physical capability to perform her tasks.
To ensure your canine companion can succeed as your service dog, follow these steps:
Assess your pet’s health and temperament. Service dogs should be in good health with no underlying medical conditions that may interfere with their tasks. If your pet suffers from osteoarthritis or diabetes, she may not be a good candidate. She should be calm and collected but alert and responsive.
Enlist a reputable service dog trainer. In the U.S., service dogs are not governed by any training requirements or regulations, but the service animal community has created self-regulated minimum standards. Search for a trainer who follows these regulations.
Put in the hours. International standards for service dogs require a minimum of 120 hours over six months or more, with at least 30 of those hours spent in public among distractions and surprising situations. These training hours may not be required legally in the U.S., but a well-trained dog will serve you better.
Register and equip your dog. Register with a reputable service, such as the United States Service Dog Registry. Documentation of training and registration will help if a situation arises while you and your dog are out in public.
Although the U.S. does not have any regulations regarding service dogs, do not abuse the privilege. Dogs who are known to be aggressive, untrained, or disobedient, as well as dogs who do not perform any tasks, should not be service dogs.
Are you considering training your dog to be a service animal? Contact us to schedule an appointment to ensure your canine companion has a clean bill of health.