Service dogs have become an increasingly popular option for individuals with a wide range of disabilities. These highly trained animals provide assistance to their owners by performing a wide range of tasks, such as retrieving objects, opening doors, providing balance and stability, and alerting to medical emergencies. Service dog training is an essential component of ensuring that these animals are able to perform their duties effectively and efficiently. In this blog post, we’ll discuss what you need to know about service dog training, including the types of service dogs, the training process, and the laws that govern their use.
Types of Service Dogs
There are several different types of service dogs, each trained to perform specific tasks based on the individual needs of their owners. Here are some of the most common types of service dogs:
Guide dogs are trained to assist individuals who are blind or have low vision. These dogs help their owners navigate their surroundings safely by leading them around obstacles and warning them of potential hazards.
Hearing dogs are trained to assist individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing. These dogs alert their owners to important sounds such as doorbells, alarms, and other environmental noises.
Mobility Assistance Dogs:
Mobility assistance dogs are trained to assist individuals with physical disabilities. These dogs provide support by pulling wheelchairs, helping their owners stand and walk, and retrieving objects.
Medical Alert Dogs:
Medical alert dogs are trained to detect medical emergencies such as seizures, low blood sugar, and other conditions. These dogs can alert their owners or seek help when necessary.
Service dog training is a rigorous process that requires a great deal of time, patience, and dedication. The training process typically involves several stages, including:
Service dog training typically begins with selecting a suitable puppy. The ideal service dog candidate is typically a purebred puppy between 8-12 weeks old with a good temperament, high energy level, and strong work drive.
Basic Obedience Training:
Once a suitable puppy is selected, basic obedience training begins. This includes teaching the puppy basic commands such as sit, stay, come, and heel.
After the puppy has mastered basic obedience training, task-specific training begins. This involves teaching the dog specific tasks based on the individual needs of their owner.
Public Access Training:
Service dogs are required to behave appropriately in public spaces. Public access training involves exposing the dog to a wide range of public environments and teaching them how to behave appropriately in each setting.
Once the dog has successfully completed all stages of training, they are considered a fully trained service dog and can begin working with their owner.
Laws Governing Service Dogs
Service dogs are protected by several laws that ensure they are allowed to accompany their owners in public spaces. Here are some of the most important laws governing service dogs:
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA):
The ADA is a federal law that prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities. The law requires businesses and public spaces to allow service dogs to accompany their owners.
Fair Housing Act (FHA):
The FHA is a federal law that prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in housing. The law requires landlords to make reasonable accommodations for individuals with disabilities, including allowing them to keep a service dog in their home.
Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA):
The ACAA is a federal law that prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in air travel. The law requires airlines to allow service dogs to accompany their owners on flights.
Service dogs play a critical role in assisting individuals with disabilities to live independently and participate fully in their communities. Service dog training is a complex process that requires a great deal of time, effort, and dedication.