Although Service Dogs first emerged as a method of assisting those who were vision impaired, their roles have now expanded. In fact, many Service Dogs are now being trained to help those with an array of invisible disabilities from mental and psychiatric health struggles to seizures, epilepsy, autism, diabetes and more. Here are just 5 examples of Service Dogs for invisible disabilities.
Brace and Mobility Support Dogs are a type of Service Dog trained to provide their disabled handler with assistance moving from place to place. This invaluable service is matched only by these dogs’ ability to also help with other chores and tasks, like opening doors or retrieving dropped items. Due to the unique nature of their work, though, Brace and Mobility Support Dogs have special needs. Read on to learn more!
Many people are surprised to learn there are over a dozen different specializations for Service Dogs. There are Diabetic Alert Dogs, Severe Allergy Alert dogs, Visual Assistance Dogs, Hearing Dogs for the Deaf, Wheelchair Assistance Dogs, Psychiatric Service Dogs, Brace/Mobility Support Dogs, Medical Alert Dogs, Seizure Assistance Dogs and more. What are all of these types of Service Dogs — and what do they do?
Autism Service Dogs and Sensory Processing Disorder Dogs change the lives of the families they work for. Like all Service Dog teams, every Autism Dog team is unique, since everyone has differing needs. However, some tasks occur more frequently than others. Learn more about some of the most common Autism Service Dog tasks now. Common Autism Service Dog Tasks Contact / Sensory Based Autism Service Dog Tasks Assistance With Meltdowns / Overstimulation Meltdowns commonly occur when a child with autism cannot process the amount of stimulation they're receiving. They take many forms, but often result in tears, struggles, and other signs of distress. They are not tantrums. In addition to overstimulation, autism meltdowns can also happen when a child or adult with autism is unable to communicate needs, wants, or emotions. A trained Autism Service Dog assists with meltdowns by serving as a calming and grounding point of contact, somewhat like an anchor. They do so via several means, including deep pressure stimulation, kinetic engagement, and tactile grounding, all of which are covered later in this article. Repetitive Behavior / Stimming Interruption Some people with autism use repetitive motions or behaviors, collectively called "stimming," to self soothe or to express excitement or intense emotions. Stimming takes many forms, but commonly involves hand flapping, rocking, or similar movements. An Autism Service Dog can be trained to interrupt stimming while also providing another avenue for engagement. Deep Pressure Stimulation Deep Pressure Stimulation (DPS), Deep Pressure Therapy (DPT), and Deep Touch Pressure Therapy (DTP) are all names for the same thing -- a type of firm tactile contact used to calm and soothe central nervous system overstimulation. It can take many forms, including weighted blankets, swaddling, firm stroking or hugs, compression, or the furry weight of a large breed Service Dog. Many Autism Dogs provide deep pressure stimulation as a trained task. This helps soothe (or, for some people, even prevent) meltdowns, provide tactile grounding, and provides more dignity for the child or adult with autism than many alternative methods of DPS. Kinetic Engagement Many people with autism actively seek out certain types of sensory input, particularly of a kind they find comforting or soothing. An Autism Dog provides multiple outlets for kinetic engagement, either via direct or indirect means. Direct means include (gentle) fiddling with ears, fur, paws, etc. Indirect means include grooming or playing with equipment. It's important to remember that in order to be a Service Dog task, a behavior must be trained
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.
Service Dogs and Assistance Dogs aren’t the only dogs in the world who do amazing, life-changing work, but they are one of the few types of working dogs clearly defined and protected by United States federal law. Too many people don’t understand the differences between many types of working dogs, though, and it’s time to clear up some of the confusion.
Hearing Dogs alert their hard of hearing or deaf handlers to important sounds in the environment. Commonly trained sounds include approaching cars, fire alarms, sirens, dropped keys, and the handler's name. Read on to learn all about Hearing Dogs, where they come from, what they do, and how they're trained! Bonus: Read our step-by-step training guide at the end of this post to learn how to introduce new sounds to a Hearing Dog in Training. Hearing Dog Basics Hearing Dogs, also known as Hearing Alert Dogs, Hearing Ear Dogs, or Signal Dogs, partner with D/deaf and hard of hearing people of all ages. These specialized Service Dogs undergo countless hours of task training, during which they learn to recognize a variety of sounds and how to notify their handler of the sound. Before being accepted for Hearing Dog training, trainers test the canine candidate for sound temperament, good physical structure, and a keen, curious, social personality. Upon passing their initial temperament and aptitude evaluation, new Hearing Dogs in Training formally begin their Service Dog foundation training. They learn manners, basic and advanced obedience, and public access skills. They work on focusing through distractions and on building impulse control. After these special dogs master the basics, they begin their advanced training. For Hearing Dogs, this consists of "soundwork," or the process of learning sounds and the associated alert behaviors. Some Hearing Dogs work for people with multiple disabilities. These multi-purpose Service Dogs may be cross-trained for other Service Dog jobs and undergo additional task training. Good Hearing Dogs undergo hundreds of hours of specialized training and socialization before ever entering the field. Once teams graduate from training, they continue building their skills and bonding as a pair. Who Trains Hearing Dogs? In the United States, Hearing Dogs can be trained by a professional organization or program, or their future handler can train them. If the handler self-trains their own Service Dog, it's called "owner training." U.S. Federal law protects the public access rights of professionally trained Service Dogs and owner trained Service Dogs the same way -- there are no differences. Both types of Service Dogs enjoy the same level of protection. Several organizations in the United States train and place Hearing Dogs. Each has their own set of requirements and guidelines for receiving a Hearing Dog. These are a few of the most well-known programs: International Hearing Dog, Inc. - They've trained over 1,300 Hearing Dogs and have been in
According to TACA (Talk About Curing Autism), an organization which began in 2000 and has grown today to 19 Chapters and 31,000 families across the United States, it is estimated there are almost 2 million people in the United States alone with autism. Autism is the fastest growing developmental disability in the United States.
Allergen Alert Dogs, also known as Allergy Alert Dogs, Allergen Detection Dogs or Allergy Service Dogs, work with people who have life-threatening allergies. Sometimes they're called Anaphylaxis Service Dogs or Anaphylaxis Prevention Dogs. These special Service Dogs sniff for the presence of allergens. They alert their human partner if the Allergen Dog locates any amount of the potentially deadly substance in the environment. For hundreds of thousands of "allergy parents" across the United States, every day involves constant vigilance. For their kids, exposure to even trace amounts of certain foods or medicines could end with a trip to the emergency room or worse. According to the organization Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE), roughly 1 in 13 children has a food allergy. That works out to 2 or so children in every classroom! 40% of all children with food allergies have life-threatening reactions. Furthermore, 30% of all children with food allergies are allergic to more than one food. All in all, about 15 million Americans suffer from food allergies. 5.9 million of them are children under the age of 18. Myths and misconceptions about allergies abound, but the facts don't lie: life-threatening allergies are on the rise, with the Center for Disease Control citing a 50% rise in recent years. Every 3 minutes, an allergic reaction sends someone to the emergency room. There's no known cure, and the only management involves total avoidance of the food or substance. Common Allergens & Allergic Reactions Some of the most common food allergies include milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, wheat, and shellfish, with latex, insect stings, and certain medications amongst common non-food allergies. Exposure to an allergen can cause a minor reaction, like hives or a rash, or a major one, like difficulty breathing. No matter how minor a reaction seems, though, all allergies are serious. Anaphylaxis, the most severe allergic reaction, causes symptoms akin to shock. The body releases a flood of chemicals. Blood pressure plummets and airways narrow, making breathing difficult or impossible. Anaphylaxis requires prompt medical treatment and intervention to save the person's life. If the person carries an epinephrine autoinjector (EpiPen), administer it immediately, and then arrange for transport to the emergency room. For the people who deal with life-threatening allergies, everything in the environment could be potentially deadly. Every bite of food requires screening. Cosmetic products and everyday essentials necessitate exhaustive research. Even things like Play-Doh can contain allergens. Nothing can be done without