Posts Tagged ‘service dogs’

Blame it on famous small dogs like Bruiser Woods from “Legally Blonde” or Toto from “Wizard of Oz,” but small dogs have the unfortunate reputation for being pretty and portable, but not very useful. They’re known as excellent lap dogs and fit snugly into a purse. And small dogs are the supermodels of the canine fashion world. But small dogs are much more than a pretty face. Some small breeds are highly intelligent and possess intuition that can be of great assistance to their handler. So, if you ever wondered, can a small dog be a service dog, the answer would be Yes, for the reasons highlighted in this article.

Why Choose a Small Dog for a Service Dog

Don’t be fooled. Small dogs are also intelligent, agile, and eager to please—ideal traits for a service dog. Because service dogs perform tasks for people with disabilities and are protected by federal laws, they’re often regarded as the epitome of a “helper dog.” Although more traditional service dog breeds are Golden Retrievers and German Shepherds, small dogs can also function well as service dogs. 

When choosing a service dog, matching the right dog breed with a person’s needs is key. Also, lifestyle factors like the size of the home and work environment can play a part. Small dogs don’t require much space and can fit comfortably in smaller homes, apartments, or office environments. They’re less obtrusive than large dogs and can remain out of sight without attracting unnecessary attention. 

Are Small Dogs a Good Option for My Disability? 

It’s essential to match a service dog to a person’s disability, and not all disabilities need the help of a larger dog. Aligning a service dog’s qualities with a person’s disability requirements helps a dog fulfill the right tasks. 

1. Mobility Service Dog

Although mobility service dogs that prevent their owners from falling are typically larger, many people who have mobility issues don’t have problems with falling. For these individuals, having a smaller dog may be a better option than a larger service dog. Smaller dogs can jump on chairs and tables to retrieve items for their handler. They can also retrieve dropped items quickly and maneuver through crowds during emergencies. 

2. Sound Alert or Hearing Service Dogs

Service dogs for individuals with hearing impairments don’t have to be large or even medium-sized. Very often, small dogs can alert their handler to loud sounds just as well as larger dogs. Sound alert dogs notify their handler of sounds like knocks on doors, crying children, or alarms.  

3. Diabetic Service Dogs

Diabetes is a condition that affects blood sugar and changes the chemicals in the body. These changes emit scents that are imperceptible to humans. However, a dog’s sense of smell can be 100,000 times stronger than a human’s. Therefore, dogs can pick up the scent of chemical changes in the human body, helping identify critical changes like a drop in blood sugar. Diabetic service dogs notify their handler when they need insulin or are experiencing blood sugar changes. A dog of any size can fulfill this job. 

Small dogs can very well learn and fulfill service dog duties. 4. Seizure Response Dogs

Seizure response dogs assist individuals who are experiencing an epileptic seizure. After receiving extensive training, these dogs alert others for help by pressing an alarm, calling an emergency line, or obtaining medication to help their handlers recover afterward, which are similar tasks to a medical service dog. However, seizure response dogs also perform specific tasks related to seizures, sometimes even alerting their handler to an oncoming seizure episode. 

5. Allergen Service Dogs

Food allergies are on the rise throughout the world, requiring new methods in allergy detection. Allergen service dogs fill that need through their keen sense of smell. Using their noses, allergen service dogs can detect the scent of allergens like peanuts or gluten. Because allergen detection isn’t dependent on size, small dogs can succeed in this task. 

Good Service Dogs Come in All Sizes

Service dogs come in all shapes and sizes, and small service dogs can work as well as large ones. For some people, small dogs might be preferable. Smaller dogs typically require less dog food, which saves on costs. And small dogs fit in places that would be impossible for a larger service dog. As long as a service dog can perform the required tasks successfully and safely, size doesn’t matter—because good things can come in small packages! 

If you have a disability, you may qualify for a service dog. Colorado law aligns with federal guidelines. These guidelines allow a person with a disability to reside, travel, and perform their activities of daily living with a service dog. Colorado also takes the extra step to protect service dogs who are still in training (Colorado Revised Statute 24-34-803), enabling them to train with their handlers in public areas. Continue reading for more information on Colorado service dog requirements. 

Definition of a Service Dog

A service dog is trained to carry out specific tasks to assist a person with a disability. The disability can be physical, mental health-related, or medical. Colorado follows the American with Disabilities Act by restricting service animals to canines and miniature horses. A canine does not have to meet any specific requirements regarding height or weight. Colorado does, however, ban pit bulls but not from performing as service dogs

The task a service dog performs must be related to their owner’s disability. The task(s) must be an act that their owner would not be able to perform easily or safely without assistance. 

How is the Service Dog Trained? 

To be a legitimate service dog, a dog must be trained to perform a task specific to their owner’s disability, as stated above. As an example, some service dogs are trained to bring objects such as medication bottles or walking canes. Others prevent their owners from falling by allowing themselves to be used as physical support. Training can be performed through a professional trainer or by the owner (or owner’s family). 

Identification Requirements for a Service Dog in Colorado

Although Colorado does not require any identification requirements for service dogs, it’s always good to register your service dog. Doing so prevents any problems or misunderstandings from occurring, allowing your dog to perform their duty with fewer interruptions. 

In Colorado, businesses are only legally allowed to ask two questions when it is not apparent that the dog is a service animal: 

Is this a service animal? What task has the animal been trained to perform?

Due to privacy concerns, business and private entities may not ask personal questions such as:

Ask the owner to declare their illness or disability.  Demand documentation regarding registration or training.  Ask the owner to have the animals perform their assigned task as a demonstration. 

Colorado does not require a service dog to have a vest or identification tag stating that they are service dogs. 

A registered service dog in Colorado can perform their duty with fewer interruptions.  Service Dog Registration in Colorado

Although service dog registration is not required by law in Colorado, it does provide peace of mind. Having an extra layer of protection and privacy for a dog and its owner can make all the difference. Service dogs perform better in calm environments with few interruptions, and registration allows just that. Having documentation at the ready garners legitimacy and respect from business owners and the public, enabling service dogs to remain undisturbed. 

People who are interested in training, certification, and registration in Colorado can inquire with Service Dog Certifications, their local service dog trainers, or county animal enforcement department in the Colorado area. 

Psychiatric Service Dog Requirements

Psychiatric service dogs are not the same as emotional support animals. Psychiatric service dogs are trained to perform a task that is tailored to meet a psychiatric patient’s needs. For instance, a psychiatric service dog may be trained to performing the following tasks:

Remind their owner to take their psychotropic medications. Apply deep pressure therapy. Interrupt any self-harm behavior. Alert others when a person with a psychiatric disability becomes agitated. Service Dog or Emotional Support Dog in Colorado

Colorado requires that a service dog or emotional support animal always be tethered or harnessed and must remain under their owner’s control at all times unless such a device interferes with their ability to perform. Any disruptive or dangerous behavior can have the animals removed from the area. Service dogs are working animals and can not play, be fed, or perform tasks for anyone else other than their owner. 

If your dog isn’t specifically trained to perform a task, you may still qualify for an emotional support dog (ESA). Emotional support animals are recognized as assistance animals, but do not have the same access rights as service dogs. ESAs provide support and comfort to owners that suffer from depression, anxiety, PTSD, etc., and can live and travel with their owners without having to pay additional pet fees.

You and Your Service Dog in Colorado

After your dog finishes their training, you are approved by Federal law to bring your service dog with you in public. Because a service animal adds to the safety, well-being, and quality-of-life of its owners, service dogs are allowed into general public areas. This includes buses, trains, and other forms of public transportation. 

If a service dog sounds like a good fit for your disability, you can speak to your healthcare professional for their consultation. Your healthcare professional may be able to point you in the right direction and help you obtain a service dog. It’s vital to ensure your service dog is well-behaved and able to tolerate the public. Aggressive outbursts, disruptive behavior, or violation of sanitary standards can prevent your service dog from doing their job. 

Service dogs are a joy to have and can lighten the load for many people with disabilities. Knowing what you can and can not do with your service dog within Colorado is essential for both you and your dog.

To raise and maintain a service dog can cost a pretty penny. According to the Freedom Service Dogs of America, the cost of a Service Dog is approximately $25,000. Forbes magazine estimates a regular dog ownership to start at $17,650 and can go as high as $93,520 depending on the breed and size of the dog. 

Acquiring and training a service dog is costly. And having a service dog does come with some dismay from individuals who may not understand the owner’s needs. Therefore, some handlers decide to register their Service Dog in order to make the dog’s purpose more transparent.

Though service dog owners sure want to keep their service dogs well-taken care of, it can be a lot of money. Therefore, every little dollar counts. The following are a few money saving tips for you and your service dog. 

1. Purchase Dog Food in Bulk 

It’s not easy dragging large bags of dog food around, but the savings might be worth it. Especially for large dogs, food can cut quite a chunk into your budget. One way to save money is purchasing dog food in large amounts when there is a sale or from big-box stores. If you don’t think you’ll be able to use up the food before it expires, you may want to ask a friend who has the same sized dog to split it with you.

Sharing the costs and buying in bulk can save you a lot of cash in the long run. 

2. Groom Your Service Dog at Home

Dog grooming can be expensive. However, it’s a necessary part of keeping your dog healthy. That said, grooming your own pet can also be difficult! If money is a big concern, make grooming your own dog a priority. There is a learning curve involved in grooming your dog, so make sure you educate yourself first. Start small by learning how to clip and buff your dog’s nails. Then move on to shampooing and cutting hair. Online tutorials, books, and web articles can teach you. Just know that you may need to invest in quality grooming tools in the beginning, but the cost savings will make up for them! 

3. Start Coupon Clipping For Your Service Dog Needs

Even if you don’t do it for your own groceries, you can start coupon clipping for your service dog. Every little coupon counts. You don’t need to wait for the Sunday newspaper to clip coupons anymore; You can search for them online. The pet store and your veterinarian may also have coupons available, so don’t be afraid to look around or to ask. 

A service dog appreciates love and care more than receiving expensive goods. 4. Become Your Service Dog DIY Expert

You can learn to DIY your dog’s products. Make it a hobby and it becomes fun! Your service dog won’t know the difference between a high-end doggy bed versus a DIY one. All your service dog will know is that it belongs to them and it’s full of warmth. You’ll see the gratitude in their eyes and feel proud that you made it for them! Even toys and dog houses can become DIY projects. You’ll enjoy finding the right DIY project for you and your service dog. 

Your service dog won’t know the difference between a high-end version versus a DIY item.

5. Prevent Potential Dangers  

Prevention is key. Dog-proof your home to keep your service dog safe. Keep potential poisons away from your pet. Ensure your gates and fences can endure the onslaught of your service dog. Preventing accidents from happening will save you the tragedy having to take a sick or injured dog to the vet. 

Prevention also comes with maintaining your service dog’s health. Provide your dog with ample space to run, give them enough exercise, and maintain their weight. Veterinary fees can pile on when your dog is unhealthy. Start paying close attention to your dog’s health from the get-go and prevent veterinary fees in the future. 

If your money is tight and you don’t mind, many veterinary schools provide discounts with students in training. The services may be very basic, but the monetary savings are great. Service can include check-ups, vaccinations, and spaying and neutering. Stick to an accredited veterinary college and call around your area if you’re curious about the savings. 

Your Service Dog’s Love Does Not Need Riches

Your service dog will love you, regardless if their supplies are exquisite or bought from the dollar store. How you treat your service dog and care for them speaks more than a pricey outfit. Be mindful of what you spend money on and you can save money bit by bit.