Everything You Need to Know About Getting a Service Dog

Do you or someone you know suffer from a disability? It could be paraplegia, PTSD, depression, blindness, or any other condition. If they do, why not make their life easier and more comfortable by getting a service dog?

We’re here to clear the air about these amazing animals. Read our guide below to fully understand their services and more:

What is a Service Dog? 

According to the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act), service dogs are canine companions trained to perform specific tasks to aid someone with a disability. This disability could be physical or mental, meaning you’ll find service dogs meant to assist the blind as much as you’d find one helping a person with PTSD.

Most service dogs carry an ID or wear a special vest. Not all of them do and they don’t have to but these are good methods to quickly distinguish a service dog from a pet.

Most Common Breeds

There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to service dogs. They can range in size and capabilities, depending on the service needed. For example, you might not get a tiny Papillon dog to aid someone who can’t walk but they make for excellent hearing assistants.

Poodles, while small, can alert their companion about rising blood sugar levels. Bigger breeds like Great Danes and Saint Bernards can help with mobility concerns, opening up work to help people on wheelchairs or the blind.

German Shepherds, Golden Retrievers, and Labrador Retrievers are among the most popular breeds. Not only are they large but they’re quite friendly and easy to train too.

What Can a Service Dog Do?

Why is getting a service dog useful? Why do people consider getting one?

The most common uses for a service dog involve physical disabilities. You can rely on a service dog to help someone with hearing or visual disabilities. As mentioned, they can also sniff and alert when their companion’s blood sugar rises and they can call for assistance in case their companion collapses or has a seizure.

There are service dogs that aid children with autism by diverting their attention back to the tasks at hand. You’ll find service dogs that aid veterans with PTSD and dogs that provide aid for people with depression and suicidal tendencies.

Rights With Service Dogs

First off, keep in mind that service dogs aren’t pets. They’re well-trained and certified work dogs meant to aid someone with a disability. By law, establishments can’t stop a service dog from entering the premises, even restaurants or hotels — if they did, it would be like separating a paraplegic from their wheelchair.

Hotels can’t charge you an upfront fee for bringing an animal. They can, however, charge you if the service animal trashes the hotel room or any other facility.

Keep in mind that trained service dogs do have proper certification and ID. If an establishment refuses to let someone and their service dog in, these documents alone should allow an exemption.

Expectations of Living with a Service Animal

You should also expect less privacy. People will always want to approach and ask questions.

Expect people to ignore you and pay more attention to the dog. Dogs are man’s best friend, after all, and you can look forward to explaining what the dog does for you to curious bystanders and children.

Living with a service dog is like living with a child. It’s a long-term commitment for years, which means you’ll need to prepare to continue training them and spending for their comfort, food, and health.

Who Qualifies for a Service Dog?

Anyone with a disability can qualify for a service dog. It doesn’t have to be an obvious disability either. As mentioned, people with psychiatric disabilities such as autism, depression, or PTSD can get a service dog.

That said, each organization that trains and offers service dogs have separate criteria. Some organizations might look into your current state of living, finances, the size of your home, and your capability of living with a trained service animal. To further understand whether or not you qualify, it’s important to get in touch with your local service dog associations and centers for people with disabilities.

Steps in Getting a Service Dog

Getting a service dog isn’t easy. As mentioned, anyone with a disability can qualify but to find the right dog, you’ll have to jump through a bunch of difficult hurdles.

The most crucial step is finding a dog that can perform the tasks you need assistance with. For someone in a wheelchair, for example, they might need a dog that can reach for light switches, can pick up objects on the floor, and call for assistance when there are no wheelchair ramps.

After filling up the forms, you’ll also need to spend time with potential candidates. The organization in charge will have to assess how well you bond with the dog and if the dog can fulfill the tasks requested.

Service Dog Training

Yes, some organizations spend hundreds and thousands of dollars to train dogs but you can also conduct your own service dog training. This is a suitable option for people who already have a well-trained and suitable dog.

However, this route isn’t easy. You’ll still have to undergo hours of training, ensuring your dog can understand basic commands and learn how to alert its companion or other people about emergencies.

You can also check out a personal dog trainer.

Consider These Facts Before Getting a Service Dog!

Getting a service dog can take a load off someone’s shoulders. The training these dogs undergo guarantees they can help people with disabilities live life comfortably. If you or someone you know has a disability, don’t think twice about getting a service dog!

Of course, there are more lifestyle and general tips for you to discover. Feel free to read more of our content now and discover all the guides you need!