What Is a Service Dog?

500,000 service dogs are currently helping people with disabilities. 

But what is a service dog and why are they important? How do you know if you need a service dog? 

In this article, you'll learn more about service dogs, what they do, and why they're vital for some people.

What Is A Service Dog?

You've probably seen dogs walking close to people that are on a leash or a special harness. These dogs are likely to be service dogs. They are not pets.

Service dogs are specially trained dogs that aid people with disabilities. They offer companionship as well as assisting people with daily tasks. Services dogs can be trained for individuals or for groups of people. 

Types of Service Dogs

There are several different types of service dogs and each of them has its own special duty. Generally speaking, service dogs:

  • Assist the blind as a guide dog
  • Alert people that are hard-of-hearing to dangerous noises
  • Mobility assistant dogs that walk beside people in wheelchairs
  • "Call" for help when someone needs medical assistance
  • Allergy detection dogs

It's important to make a distinction between therapy dogs and service dogs.

Service dogs work specifically with people with disabilities and assist them with their needs. Therapy dogs work with people to provide emotional support on a psychological level. Therapy dogs might work with several different people at once, while a service dog is restricted to only the duties they know how to perform. 

Popular Breeds of Service Dogs

While dogs are lovingly referred to as "man's best friend" there are some dog breeds that are better service dogs than others. Here are a few breeds that are typically service dogs:

Popular service dog breeds are:

  • Golden retrievers
  • Labradors
  • German Shepherds
  • Saint Bernards
  • Great Danes
  • Poodles

Service dogs are trained from birth on how to respond to someone's needs. These dogs are preferred due to their temperament, ability to train, size, and that they're pure breeds. Because traits vary from dog to dog, the puppies endure a rigorous selection and training process and only the best go on to pursue more training as a service dog. 

How to Get A Service Dog

Service dogs are trained by professional organizations or people. They train them for a specific service like guide dogs or mobility assistance. The organization can be for-profit or non-profit and some might price their dogs higher, while others give them away at no cost. 

If you cannot find a service dog organization, you can always train the dog on your own. However, this might be even more challenging, so if you are able to find an organization that offers service dogs, this would be your best bet. 

Is A Service Dog Right for You?

Hopefully, this article has answered the question, "What is a service dog?" and caused you to think more deeply about service dogs and appreciate their value for people with disabilities. 

We serve people with disabilities so they can feel confident in their abilities! If you need service equipment, contact us today so we can help. 

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