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100+ Examples of Service Dog Tasks

Most people know Service Dogs help people who have physical, psychiatric, or developmental disabilities. Few people can describe a Service Dog’s work, though. Here are 100 examples of Service Dog tasks. 

** Note: This list is not comprehensive. It merely provides an overview of some of the available Service Dog tasks a trained Service Animal can learn. **

General Service Dog Tasks

service dog tasksGeneral Service Dog tasks can be performed by any type of Service Dog, although some types of Service Dogs, such as Medical Assistance Dogs or Wheelchair Assistance Dogs, may perform these tasks more regularly. Keep in mind that any Service Dog can be trained for any task that mitigates their disabled handler’s disability. Many Service Dogs are cross trained or trained for multiple purposes.

  • Retrieving Dropped Items
  • Retrieving Named Items (Phone, Keys, Leash)
  • Opening Doors
  • Closing Doors
  • Holding Doors Open So Handler Can Pass Through
  • Opening Door to Allow EMS Entry to Home
  • Opening Cabinets
  • Closing Cabinets
  • Opening Drawers
  • Closing Drawers
  • Opening Fridge
  • Closing Fridge
  • Tugging Clothing to Help With Removal (Outerwear, Socks)
  • Turning Lights On
  • Turning Lights Off
  • Deposit Garbage Into Can
  • Carry Mail From Mailbox to House
  • Drop Recycling Into Bin
  • Put Items Onto Countertop

Medical & Alert Service Dog Tasks

tactile grounding service dog taskMedical and Alert Service Dog tasks can take many forms. Medical Assistance Dogs, Medical Response Dogs, and Medical Alert Dogs serve people with all kinds of disabilities. Their disabilities may affect their mobility or ability to remain safe in their every day environment. Their dog responds to specific commands, events, or triggers from the handler or in the environment by performing a specific, trained series of behaviors. You can learn more about trained behaviors versus natural behaviors here.

  • Laying Across the Chest of a Seizing Handler to Help Reduce Duration of Seizure
  • Nuzzling or Licking a Seizing Handler to Provide Tactile Interruption of a Seizure
  • Alerting Handler to Repetitive Motions or Stimming
  • Retrieving Glucose Kit From Fridge
  • Retrieving Medication From Designated Spot
  • Fetch a Beverage or Snack From Designated Spot
  • Bring Phone to Handler
  • Unload Groceries From Sacks
  • Put Laundry Into Washer or Dryer or Basket
  • Remove Laundry from Washer or Dryer or Basket
  • Pulling Wheelchair
  • Momentum Assistance
  • Dragging Walker or Chair or Assistance Device to Handler
  • Dragging Baskets or Bags of Laundry via Tug Strap
  • Carrying Books or Supplies in a Backpack
  • Alerting Caretaker to Unconsciousness
  • Alerting Caretaker to Lack of Breathing
  • Alerting Caretaker to Alarms from Medical Equipment
  • Calling 911 or Designated Emergency Person via K9 Safety Phone
  • Draping Along Body of Handler to Assist With Temperature Regulation
  • Alerting Handler to Low Blood Sugar
  • Alerting Handler to High Blood Sugar
  • Alerting Handler or Caretaker to Presence of Deadly Allergen
  • Delivering Messages From Handler to Someone Else
  • Alerting to Metabolic Deterioration
  • Get Items off Grocery Shelf
  • Place Items into Cart
  • Carry Items in a Bucket
  • Carry Bags in From Store
  • Pay For Items in a Store
  • Deliver Receipt From Cashier to Handler
  • Pull a Cord to Open Curtains

Brace and Mobility Support Service Dog Tasks

Brace and Mobility Support Dogs assist people who are unable to move, balance, walk, and/or regain stability by themselves. People requiring brace work or mobility tasks may or may not be ambulatory.

  • Assist a Handler With Position Changes (like sitting to standing)
  • Assist Handler With Transfers from Chair to Couch
  • Assist Handler With Transfers from Bed to Feet / Chair
  • Assists Handler In and Out of Poolbrace and mobiliy support harnesses
  • Pull Blanket Up Once Handler is in Bed
  • Pull Blanket Off Once Handler is Ready to Get Up
  • Assist With Making Bed
  • Help Handler Into Bathtub or Shower
  • Help Handler Out of Bathtub or Shower
  • Provide Momentum Assistance
  • Help Pull Handler Up Slopes
  • Counterbalance
  • Bracing During Walking
  • Bracing During Balance Loss
  • Bracing Up or Down Stairs
  • Bracing To Help Fallen Handler Regain Feet
  • Down to Stand Transitions (Handler Drapes Across Back With Dog in Down, Dog Stands so Handler Can Start to Shift Off Floor)
  • Turns Over Fallen Handler Who Can’t Breathe on Back/Stomach
  • Nudges Hand or Foot Back onto Chair Rest
  • Pushes Leaning Handler Back to Center
  • Push Button to Open Doors

Visual Assistance & Guide Service Dog Tasks

So called “guide dogs” are actually a type of Visual Assistance Dog. Visual Assistance Dogs (leader dogs, dogs for the blind) help their handler follow known paths while alerting to elevation changes, obstacles, and hazards.

  • Lead Handler Along Familiar Route
  • Take Handler to Specific Entrances
  • Alert Handler to Low-Hanging Obstacles
  • Alert Handler to Elevation Changes
  • Alert Handler to Street or Intersection
  • Assist Handler in Finding Known Items
  • Notify Handler of Items in Path
  • Guide Handler Around Hazards (Open Manhole Cover)
  • Avoiding Moving Objects (Bikes, Skateboards, etc.)
  • Indicate Stairs, Steps, or Ramps
  • Find an Empty Seat
  • Find the Elevators
  • Follow a Person (Waiter, Hostess, Clerk)
  • Pick Up Common Items (Newspaper in Driveway)
  • Take Handler to an Exit
  • Push Elevator Button

Hearing Service Dog Tasks

hearing dog tasksHearing Dogs assist handlers who have varying degrees of hearing loss in one or both ears. “Dogs For the Deaf” are a specific type of hearing dog, from a specific school.

  • Alert Handler to Specific, Trained Environmental Sounds (Alarm Clock, Knocking, Baby Crying)
  • Alert Handler to Name Being Called
  • Alert Handler to Unnoticed Dropped Items
  • Alert Handler to People Waiting to be Noticed
  • Alert Handler to Fire Alarm or Emergency Sirens
  • Alert Handler to Car Approaching From Behind
  • Alert to Arrival of Bus
  • Alert to Bells in Educational Setting
  • Alert to Overhead Announcements
  • Family Member Sends Dog to Find and Return With Hearing Impaired Handler

Psychiatric Service Dog Tasks

Psychiatric Service Dogs assist handlers who have a mental illness or psychiatric disability. Psychiatric Service Dogs are often cross trained for other specialties, too.

  • Provide Medication Reminders
  • Lay Across Handler to Provide Deep Pressure Therapy During Panic Attacks
  • Provide Tactile Grounding Via Nuzzling or Licking
  • Apply Gentle Teeth Pressure to Forearm to Interrupt Dissociative Episode
  • Alert Handler to Episodes of Rage or Strong Emotion
  • Interrupt Repetitive Self Harm
  • Retrieve Self Care Kit
  • Wake Up Handler Having Nightmares
  • Interrupt Flashbacks
  • Search House
  • Provide “Reality Check” so Handler Can Verify Hallucinations Aren’t Present
  • Stabilize Handler’s Routine

Other Service Dog Tasks

  • Burrow Under Legs of Unconscious Handler to Raise Blood Pressure
  • Lay Across Chest to Help Handler Clear Lungs
  • Nudge Unconscious Handler Into Recovery Position
  • Body Block a Dissociated Handler From Going Through Doors
  • Help Provide a Physical Anchor via the Help of an Adult For a Child With Autism
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Comments

  • Ellen March 14, 2018

    I find a very negative and archaic view being expressed in the “Trained vs Natural Behaviors in Animals’ relating to Service Dogs. Sounds more like a lobbyist for marketing for dog trainers. This type of information is both argumentative and destructive to those who benefit from their true service dog. That you make a circus act out of what tasks they are trained to do vs they how they perform their tasks is an insult to the disabled handler. Nice try at capitalizing on handicapped individuals. This site sounds like an enemy to working dog & handler teams.

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