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February 2019

  /    /  February

Want to learn some quick facts about Service Dogs? Keep reading and level up your Service Dog knowledge!  1. Service Dogs are highly trained professionals. These hard-working dogs undergo hundreds, sometimes even thousands, of hours of training. Their training includes basic obedience and manners, intermediate and advanced skills, public access training, and job-specific task training. Each Service Dog's task training varies to match their human partner's unique needs 2. Service Dogs come in all shapes, sizes, colors, and breeds. No one can identify a Service Dog simply by looking at one. No breed requirements or other stipulations exist for a dog to qualify for Service Dog training. If a candidate has the proper temperament, loves to learn, and is physically healthy, then they're capable of training to be a Service Dog. Of course, a Service Dog's size should match their job. While smaller Service Dogs work just as hard and as well as their larger counterparts, it isn't appropriate (or safe!) for them to training as Mobility Dogs! 3. Therapy dogs, emotional support animals, and other types of working K9s are not Service Dogs. Only Service Dogs are Service Dogs. Only Service Dogs have public access rights while accompanied by the handler they're trained to assist. The handler must have a disability as defined under U.S. federal law. Emotional Support Dogs are not Service Dogs. Dogs who only help with anxiety or depression by offering support are not Service Dogs. Therapy Dogs are not Service Dogs. Search and Rescue, Police, or Military K9s are not Service Dogs. You can learn more about the differences between these various types of working dogs here. Fun Fact: The only other animal allowed to serve as an Assistance Animal in the United States is the miniature horse. Check out our guide on Miniature Horses as Service Animals for more info! 4. Service Dogs perform a diverse array of jobs. Service Dogs assist people with a wide range of disabilities. Common types of Service Dogs include visual assistance, hearing, allergen alert, brace and mobility support, neurological assistance, sensory processing, psychiatric, and many others. The jobs a Service Dog can perform are limited only by a trainer's capability and the laws of physics. 5. Each Service Dog team is unique. All disabilities are different. Furthermore, each person with a disability is an individual, and so is the dog! A Service Dog is trained to help their specific person with their specific needs. Some Service Dogs open doors

Service Dogs, also known as Assistance Dogs or Service Animals, help people with disabilities. These highly trained dogs offer their human partner independence and peace of mind. Keep reading to learn more about the tasks and jobs Service Dogs perform to help their partner in day to day life! Every Service Dog performs different jobs since their handler's needs vary. Some Service Dogs pull wheelchairs or provide bracing. Other Service Dogs open and close doors or retrieve dropped items. In general, Service Dog tasks support, mitigate, or substitute activities or chores the handler needs. As an example, if someone cannot reach down to pick something up, their Service Dog does it for them. The Service Dog serves as a substitute for the handler's own action. If a handler cannot move from a sit to a stand on their own, but they can with assistance, their Service Dog may provide support for the action by serving as a stable counterbalance. If a handler suffers from debilitating flashbacks when approached from behind while in public, their Service Dog may mitigate these symptoms by serving as an early warning system or physical barrier. Service Dog tasks must be specifically trained to help the handler with their specific disability. There are hundreds of possible tasks. The ways a Service Dog can help are limited only by the trainer's or handler's imagination and training capability. For ideas about Service Dog tasks, check out our guide to task work. The International Association of Assistance Dog Partner's guide to tasks also contains great information.    

2019 ushered in frigid weather and extreme cold across the United States. In late January and early February, the Midwestern states experienced subzero temperatures lasting days. Experts say staying in offers the most safety for humans and dogs alike, but for many Service Dog teams, particularly those that rely on public transportation, that's just not feasible. Keep reading to learn more about extreme cold weather safety for Service Dogs. Dangers of Extreme Cold Weather Whether or not there's snow on the ground, dangers of extreme cold abound. First, there's the cold itself. Exposure to cold for long enough results in a dangerous condition called "hypothermia." Hypothermia occurs when the body cannot keep itself warm. It most frequently occurs in those exposed to the elements or in those who are inappropriately dressed for the weather. When the cold is extreme enough, even a few minutes is enough to cause damage. Wind compounds the problem by making it feel colder than the actual temperature. Humidity and water cause the body to lose heat even quicker. Fun Fact: "According to physics experts, the freezing point of saliva is typically between -30 to -40 degrees Fahrenheit." Staying warm in extreme weather requires lots of energy. The body needs quality fuel in order to maintain its core body temperature. A core body temperature of 101 - 102.5F requires a dog's metabolism to work harder than a human's to stay warm. As such, a lack of calories can be a danger of extremely cold weather. On a similar note, biting winds and below freezing temps create a lack of available drinking water. Contrary to popular belief, it's very difficult to eat enough snow to meet a body's daily water needs. Additionally, melting that snow and heating it to body temp wastes valuable calories and energy. Finally, extreme weather brings lots of chemical use, especially in cities. Salt helps control ice. Antifreeze is everywhere. Businesses cover sidewalks in silt or sand to increase traction. Antifreeze is deadly to most animals, including dogs, and salt can cause digestive upsets and chemical burns. Factors That Affect Cold Tolerance Many people believe that dogs are adapted to survive outdoors. While that may have once been true, for many of today's domesticated canines, things have changed. In contrast with their wolfy ancestors, many dog breeds now have a short, thin coat and are more adapted to chilling on the living room floor than to running in the forest hunting down food.