Types of Service Dogs and How They Help Us
Types of Service Dogs and How They Help Us – Scientific research has demonstrated a wide array of health benefits that dogs offer their human companions. Service and therapy dogs, and those that train them, have been on the cutting edge of exploring these positive interactions.
There are a lot of misconceptions about the roles that dogs can play in supporting humans with pain, mobility impairment, and psychiatric conditions. In this article, we will take a look at 5 different ways that dogs can enrich our lives with trained tasks and/or giving us the emotional support of unconditional love.
- Pain Management Therapy Dogs
Research has demonstrated that dog assisted therapy has been effective in decreasing stress hormones and increasing our natural pain fighting endorphins. Significant reductions in perceptions of pain have been documented across a wide selection of studies done in a variety of controlled settings.
Dogs also need our care. One advantage of having a canine companion for some that suffer from chronic pain is that they can give us the motivation to get up and get moving. They return all of our investments in their well being ten-fold in terms of non-judgmental l love and patient support!
For those with chronic pain that includes mobility impairment, a service dog may be a great idea. For others, the care responsibilities may be too much of a burden. In those cases, checking out the local options for volunteer therapy dogs may help you find a way to schedule regular visits as part of your pain management program.
A sweet Dachshund in your lap may be a simple phone call away!
- Therapy Dogs
Therapy dogs are not just for pain management. They show up at hospitals, schools and retirement communities to bring positive energy and unconditional love. Training requirements include great behavior in lots of different contexts and a demonstrated ability to follow house rules and show a high tolerance for various interactions with people.
Most therapy dogs are actually the pets of people that volunteer their time to provide this important community service. They are not generally trained to perform specific tasks. It is their loving personalities and sweet dispositions that most qualify them for this important work!
- Mobility Assistance Service Dogs
The largest group of certified service dogs are those that contribute mobility and functionality for the disabled. Examples include specially trained dogs that support the deaf, blind and those that use wheelchairs. They perform vital tasks such as keeping their charges out of dangerous situations, fetching specific items on command, and alerting others if their people need assistance.
These service dogs receive a great deal of training in order to receive their certification. Because they are a vital part of the lives of those they serve, they are granted special privileges to go wherever their people go, including planes and private establishments.
- Emotional and Psychiatric Support Dogs
There are two basic classes of canines that cover emotional and psychiatric support. The first, an Emotional Support Animal (ESA) is generally not specifically trained to perform specific tasks. However, they do need to have strong basic manners around people in public in order to qualify for this special designation.
People need to be impaired in order to qualify for an ESA, but not necessarily a disabled. An example would be a mental illness such as social anxiety where an ESA can improve a person’s experience of the public by providing unconditional love, validation, and acting as an icebreaker for conversations.
A Psychiatric Service Animal (PSA), by contrast, has specific training to take action in specific circumstances to contribute to the ability of their charge.
An example includes a PTSD trained service dog who may perform functions like being first to enter a room, turning on and off lights in advance of their person, or acting as a buffer around strange people. These important helpers make things possible that might otherwise not be without the PSA’s special task training.
- Medical Alert Dogs
These specially trained service dogs are trained to alert their owners and/or their support staff of impending medical dangers. This might mean seizures, migraines, narcoleptic episodes, dangerously high or low blood sugar levels, and even sniffing out potential allergens.
These hero canines are able to get their people into a safe place before a seizure, for example, reducing the chances of injury. They can also bring medication to their charges, get help, or aid in recovery after an episode.
Mat Coulton has worked with dogs for just under a decade and is the founder of WileyPup, a doggy lover’s website that provides great tips and advice for pet parents everywhere.
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