Types of Service Dogs


While most people think the only Assistance Animals are Seeing Eye/Guide dogs, that is only a perception time has ingrained into the public. The vision assistance animals are only a small portion of the overall Assistance Animal population. Within the dog category, some examples of other types of Assistance Dogs are Seizure Alert dogs, Migraine Alert dogs, Autism dogs, Alzheimer's dogs, Post Traumatic Stress dogs, Hearing dogs, Cardio/Pulmonary/Vascular dogs, Psychiatric Aid dogs, as well as Mobility dogs. Many of these dogs aid a partner that does not show an obvious disability to the average person. Seizure Alert dogs are an excellent example since many of their partners appear totally *not*disabled for much of the time. But when their partner begins to have a seizure, these dogs are absolutely invaluable!

There are various types of service dogs, each specially trained either for a particular person or for a particular ailment. Here are some of the more prevalent types of service dogs. This is only a partial list of Service Animals and is not intended to be all-inclusive or authoritative:

Guide Dog or Dog Guide
 – This Service Dog/Service Animal would assist an individual that has vision loss; either fully or partial.

Hearing Alert Dog – Hearing Dogs assist people who are deaf and hard of hearing by alerting them to a variety of household sounds: a knock on the door or a doorbell, a buzzing alarm clock, a ringing telephone, a baby's cry, a name being called or a smoke alarm going off. These dogs are trained to make physical contact, or at least get their partners' attention, and lead then to the source of the sound.

Mobility Assistance Dogs
A mobility assistance dog, is specially trained to help physically disabled people. They are trained in simple tasks such as picking up objects or opening and closing doors. Dogs of large stature are also trained in pulling wheel chairs. They are made to wear specially designed harnesses to pull them. A subtype of mobility assistance dog is a walker dog, which is trained to accompany people recovering from injuries. They are very often trained to help Parkinson's patients, individuals with balance issues, amputees, etc... These dogs help an individual to maintain balance while walking. If the handler falls, the dog acts as a brace for him, to regain position. Also, this Service Animal may assist people with disabilities with walking, balance and transferring from place to place.

Psychiatric Service Dogs
A psychiatric service dog is a service dog, especially trained to assist people with psychiatric disability. The dogs are trained to handle various types of psychiatric disabilities, ranging from Schizophrenia to post-traumatic stress. Each of these service dog undergoes training to perform tasks which are specifically meant to help his handler in emergency situations. Most often the dog is expected to provide environmental assessment in case of situations such as hallucinations and paranoia. A psychiatric service dog is also trained to alert the handler in case of danger.

Service Dogs for Diabetics
A service dog for diabetics is specially trained to assist people with diabetes. These dogs are trained to identify minor scent changes created by hypoglycemia or low blood sugar, and take necessary steps such as alerting medical response. They are also trained in tracking the shifting levels of the handler's condition, and alert the person to check blood sugar levels or take necessary medications. These dogs detect the faint changes in the scent which can't be detected by humans, and hence prove to be worthy companions for people with diabetes.

Seizure Response Dogs
Seizure response/seizure alert dogs are trained to assist people with epilepsy or other seizure disorders. Each person with seizure demonstrates different traits, and hence each seizure response dog has to be specifically trained to help a particular individual. These dogs are trained to summon health, activate medical alert, attempt to arouse the handler if he is unconscious, provide physical support, etc. They may either alert individuals to on-coming seizures, or react once seizures begin. This may either allow the individual to get to a safe place before a seizure begins, or provide the owner with direct physical contact until assistance arrives.

Autism Service Dog
An autism service dog is specially trained to help a person with autism. These dogs help people with autism to perform various daily activities, thus helping them to gain confidence and making them independent. Some simple situations tend to be too over confusing for people with autism, for instance, running out of the house when the house catches fire. In such a situation, the dog can help the handler to realize the danger and move out of the house. They are also trained to alert the handler in case of simpler activities such as getting a call on the telephone or if a baby is crying. More recently these dogs are also being as babysitters for young autistic children, and trained to alert parents when these children are in dangerous situations.

 

Medical Alert Dog/Medical Response Dog – This Service Dog is trained to alert to oncoming medical conditions, such as heart attack, stroke, diabetes, epilepsy, panic attack, anxiety attack and even post traumatic stress disorder.