Dogs have a number of jobs. You see them at fire stations and playing favorite companion roles on television. Perhaps the most intriguing of the service dogs are those that provide assistance and those that act as therapeutic tools for people who need them. Dogs that perform roles like this normally undergo extensive training. But what makes one assistance dog different from another?

Assistance dogs are great at the things they do, but it does not always come naturally. Most if not all assistance dogs, no matter the job, begin their occupations by obedience training. Not only is it important that the dog can do a job, but it is also important that the handler can control the dog. Many assistance dogs spend large amounts of time in public, so an unruly or aggressive dog is not an option. Many jobs have no breed or size restrictions; although, some breeds are chosen over others for their work ethic. No matter the breed, it is important that the dog is able to be thoroughly trained and socialized.

During and after the obedience training, the specialty training begins. There are organizations that train puppies for certain careers, but more and more independent owners are having a hand in the process. Owners have a handful of options when training: they can hire a professional, take part in group classes, or follow literature and complete the training on their own. The specialty training depends upon the work that the dog will be doing. Sometimes, it is very difficult, if not impossible, for an owner to master the specific training techniques.

Service dogs are often placed under the umbrella term, assistance dogs. However, service dogs provide more than assistance. Many are trained to help people with disabilities that need help with everyday labor, such as retrieving the newspaper or medication. One type of service dog is the medical response dog. These pooches are able to detect medical emergencies before they happen. Diabetics often use medical response dogs to monitor their blood sugar level. The dogs are trained to retrieve medication, telephones, and anything else the owner may need if the dog detects a rise or fall in the owner’s blood sugar level. Seizure response dogs also fall under medical response dogs. These dogs are trained to keep the owner safe if a seizure occurs. They can look for help, move dangerous objects away from the owner during a seizure, and try to help the owner regain consciousness. Psychiatric service dogs help owners cope with stress, depression, and other medical conditions.

Assistance dogs are similar to service dogs, yet they take on different occupations. A hearing dog provides a deaf owner with guidance both in and outside the home. The dog is trained to respond and alert the owner of things such as someone calling the owner’s name, a doorbell ring, a fire alarm, and basic sounds on the street (police siren, ambulance, etc.). Guide dogs are perhaps the most recognized assistance dogs in the United States. Guide dogs aide people who are blind or have trouble seeing. The owner generally directs the dog in the desired direction, while the dog navigates around any obstacles in the way.

Service dogs and assistance dogs are growing in popularity across the United States. Since the Internet offers knowledge at the fingertips, many people are learning and performing their own training. Thanks to the Americans with Disabilities Acts working dogs are allowed to enter any public place while they are working. Whether or not a dog in training can enter the establishment is dependent upon state laws.

Dogs are trained to do a number of things. Perhaps on the top of the training list are dogs that provide assistance to their owners. Thoroughly trained dogs are able to complete a number of tasks and can often detect a medical problem before it occurs. Some dogs are used in physiatrist settings, while other are used with owners who exhibit physical disabilities. In the United States, assistance dogs are allowed in establishments that otherwise carry no pet policies. As people begin to train their own pooches, more and more assistance dogs are helping out across the country.

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