Posts Tagged ‘service dog’

Canines are very smart, even though their goofy grins and tail-wagging may distract from their intelligence. Service dogs, in particular, show their intelligence by performing tasks that help people with disabilities manage their daily lives. These unique tasks include detecting a person’s blood sugar through smell, helping retrieve life-saving medication, and helping visually impaired people navigate busy streets. One essential function that a service dog can do is to be the ears for its handler who is hearing impaired. This category of service dogs is called hearing dogs. 

What Do Hearing Dogs Do? 

According to the National Institutes of Health, about 15% of adults in the U.S. have some hearing impairment. Adults 60–69 have the highest rates of hearing loss. The Better Hearing Institute states that hearing loss can affect household income, costing up to $12,000 each year. People who don’t receive treatment or adequate assistance for their hearing loss are twice as likely to be depressed than those with no hearing problems. 

The World Health Organization defines deafness as “having profound hearing loss, which implies very little or no hearing.” For people who are deaf, having a service dog provides a direct link to the world around them. Hearing dogs can alert their handlers in various situations:

Kitchen help: update its hander of the status of oven timers, coffee makers, and kettles Communication: let their handler know when telephones and doorbells ring Child care: fetch their handler when their babies’ calls or cries Dangers: alert their handler of smoke or fire alarms Street safety: make their handler aware of oncoming traffic Where Can I Get a Hearing Dog? 

A hearing dog may be purchased through a reputable service dog organization, or you may train the service dog on your own. Hearing dogs, like all service dogs, are an expensive investment and can cost over $20,000. The cost depends on the organization and whether an individual qualifies for a price reduction. The following are organizations that specialize in connecting trained hearing service dogs to the right homes: 


NEADS provides service dogs free of cost as the client agrees to fundraise $8,000, using the help of NEADS fundraising resources. NEADS offers service dogs for children, veterans, and the hearing impaired. 

International Hearing Dogs, Inc.

International Hearing Dogs, Inc. provides service dogs at no cost to clients. Although their dogs cost about $15,000 to house, train, and place, their fees are covered through donations.

Canine Companions for Independence 

Canine Companions for Independence provide hearing dogs free of charge for people who apply and qualify. Their dogs are Labrador and Golden Retrievers that are specially trained to be service dogs.  

The Hearing Dog Program

The Hearing Dog Program works diligently to match handlers to their ideal dog. Dogs are awarded to qualified applicants at no cost, though recipients are responsible for grooming costs and care.

How Do I Train a Hearing Dog?

Though many organizations offer hearing dogs to qualified people for free or a nominal fee, there aren’t many dogs available. You may fall on a waiting list, or you may not qualify. If you find the cost of buying a hearing dog is too high for your budget, you always have the option of training a hearing dog yourself.

First, you need to determine what breed or size of dog best meets your lifestyle and needs. Then you would find a dog that has the right temperament and traits for a service dog. Several months of audio-response and public-access training follow, documenting training progress in a service dog training log. This training may encompass everything from typical sit-stay commands to alerting their handler of knocks on doors and smoke alarms. Training takes time and patience, which isn’t always for everyone. If you have the time and inclination — and possibly someone to help — self-training may prove to be the most cost-effective option. 

How Do You Qualify? 

For most hearing service dog agencies, applicants must meet a set of qualifications to receive a service dog, even if you pay for one full-price. These qualifications ensure that the dogs are successful at what they do and don’t pose a danger to others. Here are a few standard qualification requirements. Applicants must be: 

18 years or older Have moderate to severe hearing loss Be able to participate in the training process Meet the financial and physical requirements to have a service dog Not have other dogs in the home

Qualifying for a hearing service dog typically requires a diagnosis and assessment by a physician or audiologist. Having documentation available prior to starting your applications ensures that you are prepared and makes the process less intimidating. Keep in mind that organizations receive hundreds of applications, and a response may take time. Remember to politely follow up if you have any inquiries regarding the status of your application. Obtaining a service dog takes time and effort but is worth the wait.


If you’re lucky enough to have an obedient, social, and intelligent emotional support animal (ESA) with a calm temperament, you may have a potentially ideal service dog. Training your ESA to become a service dog isn’t an easy endeavor—it takes work and dedication to make an ESA into a service dog, but it can flourish into a rewarding journey in the long run. This article will discuss important points to consider before starting your emotional support dog’s transition to becoming a certified service dog.

Steps to Making your ESA a Service Dog Determine if you need a psychiatric service dog or a mobility service dog. Make sure that your dog is the right size and or breed for your disability. If your disability is psychological, your dogs size/breed may be smaller than if you required support with mobility. Train your dog to perform a task to aid in your disability. The task doesn’t have to be complicated or difficult, it just has to be right for you. Travel with your service dog out in the world! If you’d like, order a Service Dog ID card for your personal convenience and register online. Register your service dog here. Does Your ESA Have the Qualities of a Service Dog? 

Before you begin to train your ESA, you’ll need to evaluate their qualities from an objective point of view. Here are a few questions to ask yourself:

1. Is your ESA the right breed?

Depending on what tasks you’ll need your potential service dog to do, the breed and size matter. Determine whether your ESA is the right fit to perform the tasks you need. For example, a bulk of your requirements might have to do with bracing and mobility, which calls for a larger dog breed. If your ESA is a chihuahua, it will not fulfill the job’s requirements, no matter how obedient or intelligent your small dog is. However, if your needs are psychological a small breed might be the perfect fit.

2. Does your ESA learn quickly?

Though an ESA might have the capacity to learn basic commands, a service dog must go above and beyond the typical “sit” and “stay” commands. Because service dogs in training spend so much of their time learning, only exceptionally intelligent, enthusiastic, and observant dogs can maintain the pace needed to become a service dog.

Dogs that are bright and eager to please typically are ideal to become service dogs, as they have the natural desire to pay attention for hours at a time. Service dogs spend the rest of their lives following commands for long periods of time. Asking a dog who doesn’t enjoy performing tasks day in and day out isn’t healthy for the ESA or the handler.

An intelligent ESA that naturally enjoys performing tasks will most likely lead to a happy service dog and handler.

3. Is your ESA social with other people and animals?

Emotional support animals aren’t typically allowed in areas that prohibit pets. Service dogs, however, can follow their handlers wherever the public can go. This means that service dogs are exposed to many strangers and animals, and safety becomes a concern. An ESA that’s naturally friendly and tolerant of strangers and animals makes an ideal candidate for a service dog. 

4. Does your ESA have a calm temperament?

Service dogs have to maintain a calm demeanor, even when their surroundings are loud or chaotic. For most dogs, remaining steady and focused in new or disruptive surroundings is a challenge. They cannot be distracted by others and should not bark (unless barking is part of a task). But if your ESA is naturally calm and doesn’t become agitated, you might have an emotional support dog with the potential to become a service dog.

To make an emotional support animal into a service dog, the dog must meet the requirements needed to perform tasks the handler needs assistance with. Training a Service Dog 

Once you have confirmed that your emotional support dog has the qualities needed for a service dog, and you’ve determined what tasks you need your service dog to perform, it’s time to begin the training. Training involves two parts: 

Teaching the Public Access Test requirements, which determines if dogs can remain in public areas without disrupting their environment.  Training for specific tasks geared at addressing the disabilities of the handler.  Turning Your ESA Into Your Service Dog

You have a number of options when training your ESA. The easiest but most costly option is to hire a professional. Your dog may be away in training for a while, but you’ll have a solid, obedient service dog once the training is complete.

Alternatively, you can choose to train your ESA yourself entirely. This option is the most cost-effective—and most involved—choice. And while it will take up a chunk of your time and patience, the bond between your dog and you, as well as his responsiveness towards your commands, will be stronger.

You can also choose to hire a trainer for parts of the training—like the Public Access Test—and train your dog yourself for the other, more individualized portions.

Whichever path you select, keep a training log to document your dog’s progress. A training log can help hone in on your dog’s strengths and weaknesses and provide proof of training should the needs or documentation arise. 

Know Your Service Dog Laws

Once your ESA has mastered all the training needed and has become a certified service dog, they can escort you into public areas like parks, malls, areas where pets and ESAs are not allowed, and on all flights. However, they must apply to the following rules:

A service dog must be under the command of their handler at all times. A service dog cannot display signs of aggression. A service dog cannot disturb the normal functioning of the places they are in.

And be aware, an establishment may ask the handler to remove the service dog from the area if the dog is out of control. Each state may also have additional service dog laws, so it’s safest to inquire about the laws for the state you’re in.

Turning an ESA into a service dog is like having the best of both worlds. A person can have their closest healing companion physically assist them with their disability. Training an ESA to become a service dog may take time and work, but the results are worthwhile! 

There’s no doubt that modern treatments have come a long way in improving the quality of life for people with disabilities. Technology also offers new gadgets to help make daily life a little less challenging for disabled individuals. With all these advances, however, nothing compares to the help of a service dog. To understand what a service dog is and what disabilities qualify you for a service dog, read on below.

What is a Service Dog?

Service dogs receive special training to perform particular tasks tailored to the needs of their owner. Unlike pets, the primary reason for the animal’s presence is to accomplish daily tasks for a person with a disability. Because service dogs are so vital to an individual’s well-being and functioning, their presence is protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

Service dogs are not only exceptionally well-trained, but they are also selected for their intelligence and temperament. As federal law allows service dogs to follow their owners into areas not usually allowed by pets, service dogs are trained to behave and be safe in public. For someone with a disability, getting a service dog can be life-changing. Some people with a disability can experience more freedom and independence thanks to their service dogs. 

Qualified Disabilities for a Service Dog

If you’re curious about getting a service dog for yourself or someone you love, your first step would be to understand if your disability qualifies you for a service dog.

How is a Disability Defined? 

According to the ADA, a disability is defined as: 

“Any physiological disorder or condition, cosmetic disfigurement, or anatomical loss affecting one or more of the following body systems: neurological, musculoskeletal, special sense organs, respiratory (including speech organs), cardiovascular, reproductive, digestive, genitourinary, hemic and lymphatic, skin, and endocrine.”

Interestingly, the ADA definition of a disability is both vague and specific at the same time for a reason. It attempts to encompass all the possible disabilities a person may have without creating a broad definition to include everyone. People who have disabilities require specific accommodations. The ADA’s definition of a disability means that a person can be considered disabled for both mental or physical problems. 

Having a disability is the first part of being qualified for a service dog. The second is whether a service dog can meet the needs of a disability. 

A wide range of disabilities qualifies for a service dog to help their owner improve their quality of life. Service Dogs and Disabilities

Not every disability qualifies a person for a service dog. A physician can assess a person’s needs and make an individual assessment as to whether a service dog is beneficial in their situation. Here are a few examples of disabilities that may qualify: 


Service dogs can help people with mobility issues by obtaining daily items that they would not get for themselves. For example, these dogs can hand over objects on the floor or help owners slip on their shoes. 


Service dogs can help children with autism remain safe, provide guidance, and encourage tactile stimulations. These dogs also monitor boundaries for a child and can alert others of a child is harming themselves. 


Service dogs can guide visually impaired individuals through streets and crowded areas, navigating them through situations that would otherwise be dangerous. These dogs can also alert their owners to safety issues and remove fall hazards from their path. 


Service dogs can detect low blood sugar in people with diabetes and inform their owners to take precautions. These dogs can also call 911 in emergencies and obtain life-saving medication during hypoglycemic events. 


Service dogs can help to prevent or assist in situations where seizures occur. These dogs can alert owners of impending seizures and place pressure on body parts for safety when seizures happen. 

Psychiatric Disorders

Psychiatric service dogs can help obtain medication for people with psychiatric disorders, discourage self-injurious behavior, and deter their owners from situations that may trigger a crisis response. 

Other Disabilities That Can Benefit From Service Dogs  Asthma Cerebral Palsy Chronic back/neck problems Chronic Fatigue  Fibromyalgia Hearing Impairments Heart Problems Multiple Sclerosis Narcolepsy Paralysis Stroke

If you don’t see your disorder on this list, talk to your licensed therapist if a service dog may benefit you. There are many other disabilities that can qualify for a service dog, depending on the individual’s needs. 

A service dog can assist individuals with a qualifying disability in all public areas. Do You Qualify for a Service Dog? 

Because service dogs perform such an essential duty, they can follow their owners into all public areas. This allows them to perform their tasks whenever their owners need them. A service dog must be well-behaved and safe with the public at all times. These responsibilities are why service dogs go through such a rigorous selection and training process. To qualify for one of these special dogs depends on your disability, individual status, and physician. Evaluate your daily needs and start a conversation with your practitioner about how a service dog can improve your quality of life.