What Services do Service Dogs Provide?
Highly trained service animals work for their owners with physical or psychiatric disability. There are different types of training as there are different types of work that the service dogs provide. These dogs assist their owners or masters to ensure that they can go on with their routines and activities without any incidents or problems. Above all, the service dogs must ensure their owner’s safety and health as it can become a life or death situation.
Below are just some of the tasks service dogs can do for individuals with disability or impairment, according to the International Association of Assistance Dog Partners:
Service Dogs Basic Tasks
- Answers when someone’s at the door by pulling a lever.
- Brings or retrieves stuff to its owner, such as the mail, medicine bottles or any other items.
- Barks, summons or alerts someone in the other room, for the owner who cannot get to them.
- Helps his owner get around, or get up from his seat, or climb the stairs at the home or in public establishments.
- Be his owner’s steady support, in case he experiences an imbalance while doing activities.
- Carries medicine and other provisions for his owner in a specialized back pack.
Service Dogs Tasks During Emergencies
- Brings the phone to his owner to call 911 or a relative.
- Knows how to bark at a speaker phone to signal for emergency.
- Interrupts or tags its owner during a trigger or psychiatric occurrence.
- Alerts other people when its owner is in distress.
- Leads other people to its owner, who could already be down on the floor after an episode or a suicide attempt, especially in cases of depression and mood disorders.
- Alert its owner in cases of fire or burglary attempts.
Psychiatric Service Dog Services
Psychiatric service dogs provide assistance to people with mental health disabilities navigate through life. Similar to other service dogs, psychiatric service dogs are trained to assist their handlers by performing these tasks:
- Guide a disoriented handler – for people on medications or in the middle of a disassociated
- Provide tactile stimulation for anxiety attacks, panic attacks, etc.
- Identify hallucinations – for people who experience hallucinations
- Search a room – for people with PTSD who are hyper-vigilant
- Interrupt and redirect – for people with OCD who may self harm themselves
Psychiatric service dogs can provide tremendous benefits for their handlers, outside the services they provide, so that the handlers can lead normal lives. Caring for a dog requires the handler to get out of the house and forces them to interact with the outside world. The simple act of having to get out of bed and getting fresh air can reverse the symptoms of depression in people. Emotional support animals can also provide these benefits to their handlers. Service dog and emotional support dog handlers report greater self-esteem due to the independence that they experience with their service dog or emotional support dog.
Training for service dogs could take weeks and will depend on the tasks they have to learn and perform. Because of these tasks, the law, through the Americans with Disabilities Act, acknowledges that persons with disabilities or impairment need their service dogs at all times. Establishments and businesses are expected to recognize and afford individuals with service dogs the access or accommodation.
If you are experiencing any type of discrimination due to your need for a service animal, please contact the ADA.