Assistance animals are not pets, but partners and companions that are ready to provide 24/7 help to their handlers. They are especially disciplined animals that assist people with disabilities. Dogs are among the most popular species of animals that are used as service ones. Dogs are easy to train and educate. Moreover, some dog breeds were specifically created to serve individuals with various health issues and disabilities. A service dog is an especially disciplined animal that is taught to help people who have health problems. If you think that you need to get a service dog, first of all, you should familiarize yourself with all the information presented in this article, and also be sure to consult your doctor or therapist.
Assistance animals classification
Based on the type of person’s disability, experts identify a number of categories of assistance animals. The most popular types of assistance animals are emotional support animals, working and service dogs. Also, nowadays more and more often doctors attach a psychiatric service dog to their patients with psychical or emotional problems.
There are several types of service dogs besides the general classification of all assistance animals. One of the most known ones is the guide dog that helps people with visual impairments. This animal can lead its handler, acting as a navigator on the way to the needed location. Another widespread type is hearing dogs that signal people with deafness about different sounds. There are also therapy dogs that can replace nurses for the patients undergoing long-term treatment or therapy.
Also, the classification of service dogs can be based on their breed. There is even a special breeding program for reproducing the most easily tamed dogs. In general, all dog breeds can be disciplined as service ones. However, some breeds are considered more receptive to training, so they are chosen much more often. German shepherds, golden retrievers, labrador retrievers are thought to be one of the most loving and intelligent breeds. They are extremely loyal and protective. Moreover, these dogs are great babysitters for children and splendid therapy for people with mental health issues.
Features of service animals training
A service dog has been trained for about 2 years before it is sent to help a human. Of course, this period may vary depending on the predisposition of the dog to learn and the requirements for meeting the disability-related needs of a particular person. Although primarily service dogs are trained to perform various assignments to make the life of disabled people easier, the training process of these animals is not limited to this.
A service dog training process also includes social behavior coaching. A dog must be well behaved in order not to be estranged. The dog shouldn’t be a threat to others, nevertheless, all animals are trained to sense danger and protect their handler, if there is a direct threat to his health or life.
The most famous organization that disciplines service dogs is PAWS. They have developed special training programs that speed up the preparation of the animal. Due to these programs, dogs can supply their owner with highly trained help within a few months after the start of nurture.
How to become a handler of a service animal?
There are several possible answers to the question “How to get a service dog?” To qualify for a service dog a person with a disability has to consult a doctor, therapist, or social worker to get a prescription. After that, an individual has an opportunity to take an individually trained dog from the trainer or nonprofit organization. Besides, you may ask a qualified trained to coach your pet if you want it to become a service animal. Most often people apply for seeing-eye dogs, hearing dogs, and animals for mobility assistance. There are also special diabetic alert dogs that can help to control the blood sugar level of their handler.
If a person suffers from any mental illness, he or she can contact a psychologist, psychiatrist, or another mental health professional to get a specific ESA letter. With this letter, a human can apply for an emotional support animal that can alleviate the symptoms of psychical or emotional impairments caused by physical or mental disabilities. Psychiatric service dogs assist people with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), bipolar disorder, and other personality disorders. They can calm a person during an anxiety or panic attack. Emotional support animals also improve the general well-being of their owner and positively affect his emotional state. Service animals help to reduce the feeling of loneliness and depression.
Benefits for owners of an assistance animal
Since a service dog is undergoing special education, it is not considered a pet. That’s why the rights of an assistance dog are much wider. First of all, service dogs’ handlers are free of charge for the pets. Also, there is no additional charge for a service animal during the accommodation and on public transport. Service dogs have extended public access rights. So, they can follow their owner to all the public places that he or she visits.