Archive for the ‘Service Dog Tips’ Category

According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), about 2 percent of Americans ages 45-54 have some hearing loss that accounts for a disability. Hearing loss can impair a person’s quality of life in many ways, affecting their self-esteem, work or school performance, mental health, and relationships. What’s more, hearing loss can impact a person’s safety, putting them at risk in everyday situations like crossing the street or walking through a crowd. Fortunately, a service dog can help individuals with hearing loss navigate these situations safely and improve their quality of life. 

What Is a Hearing Dog? 

Service dogs help people in all sorts of ways, like detecting low blood sugar in individuals with diabetes or preventing people with mobility issues from falling. Service dogs for hearing loss assist the deaf or hearing-impaired. Because service dogs are protected under federal law, a hearing dog can accompany their handler anywhere the public is allowed — even in areas where pets are not typically permitted. 

Hearing dogs receive training to help their handler with various tasks, such as alerting their handler of doorbells, smoke alarms, crying babies, and approaching vehicles. Because of their skills, a service dog can be a life-changing investment for someone with a hearing impairment, providing both companionship and assistance with daily life. 

Who Can Qualify for a Hearing Dog? 

To qualify for a hearing service dog, several specifications must be met. The handler of the hearing dog must be:

Over the age of 18. Live alone or with other people who have a hearing impairment. Have at least 65 decibels of unaided hearing loss. Be able to care for a service dog both fiscally and physically. 

Additional requirements may apply, depending on where the service dog comes from. For example, International Hearing Dog, Inc. (IHDI), the first federally recognized organization to train hearing dogs, does not place their service dogs in homes where other dogs reside because other dogs may interfere with bonding. IHDI also believes other dogs may distract a hearing dog and prevent them from doing their work successfully. 

Where Can I Take a Hearing Service Dog?

Service dogs, in general, can accompany their handler anywhere the public is allowed. Even when pets aren’t allowed, a service dog may enter the area. However, many hearing dogs only assist their handler within the home. Other hearing dogs may help their owner both inside the home and out in public. 

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) protects the right of a service dog handler to have their dog with them in public areas. The Fair Housing Act (FHA) ensures that service dogs live with their owner, including “no pets allowed” areas.

When flying with hearing dogs, the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) makes traveling possible. Some states also have their own laws applicable to service dogs in general and hearing dogs in particular. Therefore it’s always best to research state law before purchasing or traveling with a hearing dog.

Hearing dogs who work outside the home must have public access skills. These skills ensure that a dog is safe enough to bring out into the community. Unlike most dogs, service dogs remain with their handlers in “no pets allowed” areas; therefore, they must be obedient at all times, even when faced with a large, noisy crowd or other animals.

A hearing dog is a service dog for individuals with hearing impairments. How to Find the Right Hearing Dog

The right hearing dog very much depends on the individual’s needs and preferences they’re working for. There’s no definite breed or size that a hearing service dog must be. Existing programs, like IHDI, N.E.A.D.S., and Canine Companions, have trained dogs for purchase that are matched to the right handler. Some programs may also have additional qualifications and benefits. Canine Companions, for example, asks that their applicants attend a two-week course and participate in ongoing support programs. 

For the most part, service dog programs work diligently to ensure that their dogs are placed into the right homes. Prospective service dog owners should have the financial ability to care for a hearing dog, and the home environment should be safe for a dog. Individuals who live in smaller homes or apartments may want a medium or small hearing dog. 

For people who feel that a hearing dog might benefit their situation, a consult with a physician is an excellent start. A physician can evaluate how a hearing dog may assist and what needs may be met. When searching for a trained hearing dog, the physician’s assessment can serve as a guide for which dogs are more suited to the individual’s needs. 

Dogs make a difference; there’s no stronger proof than a service dog. While most dogs offer their owners unconditional adoration and affection, service dogs provide the same benefits — and so much more. For people with disabilities, service dogs make everyday tasks easier and safer. 

If you have a qualifying disability and reside in the Prairie State or are thinking of spending the next few years there, you may want to look into what a service dog could do for you. Illinois’ vast expanses and service dog-friendly laws make having a service dog easy. And once you’ve obtained a service dog, you may want to register your dog as a service dog in Illinois. 

Determine Your Need for a Service Dog

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) defines a person with a disability as a person with “a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities; a person who has a history or record of such an impairment; or a person who is perceived by others as having such an impairment.” 

Depending on your disability and what tasks you need help with, a service dog could make a world of difference.

The ADA are federal laws that protect people with disabilities and their service animals. These laws enable people to take their service dogs into areas where pets aren’t usually allowed. If you have a disability, your service dog can accompany you almost anywhere, including airplanes. 

Before you start on your journey to find a service dog, first evaluate what your needs are. Your physician or therapist can help you determine what services a service dog can do for you.

Choose and Training Your Service Dog 

When choosing a service dog candidate, breed and size are essential factors. Opt for the breed that can get the tasks done right. Don’t give in to the temptation of choosing your favorite breed instead. For example, you may prefer Pomeranians. But if you’re using a service dog to help brace falls, a Pomeranian would not only prove ineffective in this situation; it could also be unsafe for you and the Pomeranian. 

Besides breed, intelligence and temperament must also factor into the chosen dog. Why? Because a bulk of what makes a dog a service dog is the training it receives. A service dog must have extensive training to:

Maintain appropriate and safe behavior in public areas. Carry out tasks that specifically pertain to your disability.

You can have a dog professionally trained, train a dog yourself, or you can do a mix of the two. Although the least costly choice is to train a service dog yourself, it’s also the most time-consuming. However, if you don’t have the luxury of time to train your service dog, purchasing one outright from a professional trainer may be the ideal choice. Because so much time, effort, and funds go into having a service dog, it’s always a good idea to get your dog registered. 

In Illinois, a fully-trained service dog will be able to go anywhere their handler needs to go. Why Register Your Service Dog?

Although registering your service dog isn’t mandatory, there are significant reasons why you should. Registering a service dog adds a level of legitimacy to your animal and mitigates problems. You’ll find that having a registered service dog reduces the challenges that occur when traveling or securing lodging with your dog. 

What’s more, the public has become wary of service dogs due to the increase in fraudulent service animals. By having a registered dog, you avoid intrusive questions and can offer immediate proof about your dog’s role. 

How to Register Your Dog as a Service Dog 

Provide the name of the handler.

The handler is typically the person for whom the dog helps. 

Provide the name of the service dog.

When choosing a name to document, use the name that the service dog responds to the most often.

Provide your email address.

Have immediate access to your email because you may need to verify your address. 

Upload a clear and current photo of your service dog.

You may choose to forgo this step if you do not wish to have a photo of your service dog on the ID.

Include any other certifications and paraphernalia.

This may include PSD letters, service dog vests, or dog tags.

Illinois Service Dog Laws

Many states have their own laws regarding service dogs, including Illinois. Two Illinois laws that protect the rights of people who have service dogs are:

1. Service Animal Access Act

The Service Animal Access Act prevents the refusal or denial of service animals in public areas. Violation of the Service Animal Access Act can result in a Class C misdemeanor.

2. White Cane Law

The White Cane Law protects the rights of people with disabilities to work, socialize, and participate in economic exchanges. Violation of the law can result in a Class A misdemeanor.

Registering Your Service Dog in Illinois

Illinois House Bill 3905 (HB 3905) was introduced in March of 2020 to curb the misrepresentation of service animals. Fraudulent service dogs make the work of legitimate service dogs difficult because they degrade public trust. Only legitimate service dog owners should obtain service dog registrations and paraphernalia to help build an honorable reputation with the public.

Psychological trauma occurs when a person witnesses a highly stressful event, like a car accident, school shooting, combat, sexual assault, or extreme violence. How an individual reacts after an event varies from person to person, some experiencing more extreme emotions than others. Coping and managing after a traumatic experience is difficult, and for some, the memory of a traumatic event remains fresh and can impact day-to-day activities. A PTSD service dog may offer help and relief for individuals by taking on specific tasks to help cope with the symptoms of PTSD.

What Is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

When memories of a traumatic event make daily life challenging, a person may have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, about 8 million adults struggle with PTSD.  PTSD can happen to anyone and doesn’t indicate character weakness; it shows that a person with PTSD needs some type of support to help overcome their traumatic experience.

Symptoms of PTSD

Because memories of traumatic events and personal emotions are subjective, the symptoms of PTSD are different from person to person. The symptoms are often persistent, cause a significant amount of discomfort, and affect work, school, and relationships. Possible symptoms of PTSD are: 

Recurrent and intrusive thoughts about the traumatic event.  Avoidance of places, people, or objects that bring to mind the event.  Changes in sleeping habits.  Irritability, mood swings, tearful episodes, or angry outbursts.  Negative thoughts, sometimes suicidal.  Dissociation or confusion.  Routinely feeling unsafe and in danger.  Feeling detached or alienated from friends and family.  A trained PTSD service dog can provide tasks to alleviate symptoms of PTSD. Service Dogs for PTSD

One type of psychiatric service dog is a PTSD service dog. Like all service dogs, a PTSD service dog performs one or more tasks that the individual with PTSD cannot do on their own. Most people who have dogs know the feeling of security and comfort a dog can provide, and for a person with PTSD, that feeling of security can change the course of their disorder. PTSD service dogs, however, do much more than make their owners feel safe. These service dogs may help with a variety of physical interventions, depending on their owner’s needs, which may include:

1. Provide Tactile Redirection

Service dogs receive training on how to sense anxiety or a change in emotions in their owners. If a person with PTSD becomes anxious or fearful, a PTSD service dog can give their owner tactile intervention. Whether it’s stroking their fur or touching their nose, a PTSD service dog can redirect their owner’s attention, allowing them to manage their emotions. 

2. Act as a Guard

People with PTSD, especially those who experienced an assault, may experience feelings of danger, even when the environment is inherently safe. A PTSD service dog can give a person a sense of security by assuring their owner that there are no intruders into their home. A PTSD service dog can also alert its owner to strangers, act as a guard, and give its owner a much-needed sense of peace. PTSD service dogs may also receive training to enter rooms before their owner and then return to their owner to let them know the space is safe.

3. Guide their Owner

When a person experiences a panic attack or flashback, they can become disoriented or dissociate from their environment. When this occurs, they can get lost, unable to find their way in their state of mind. A PTSD service dog can guide their owner home or get assistance, all the while making sure that their owner is safe. 

PTSD Service Dogs are Not Pets or Emotional Support Animals

PTSD is considered an invisible illness. PTSD cannot be spotted right away; therefore, it might be hard for the public to understand why a PTSD service dog is necessary. Nevertheless, a PTSD service dog is a legitimate service dog and is not a pet, emotional support animal (ESA), or therapy dog. A PTSD service dog can accompany its owner anywhere the rest of the public is allowed and is protected under federal laws. PTSD can have a physical and emotional toll on someone, but a PTSD service dog can help to mitigate the negative symptoms of PTSD, enabling an individual to overcome trauma and feel a sense of security. 

Let everyone know your PTSD service dog is an indispensable part of your life. Get your PTSD service dog ID by registering below.