Whether you’re a dog lover or not, it’s widely accepted and appreciated that there are myriad benefits to having the company of a canine, whether as a pet or as a service dog, and thanks to a ruling put in place by the American Disabilities Act back in 1990, many more pet dogs were able to become service dogs, such as those used to assist disabled people.
Read on to know whether your best friend has got what it takes to become a service dog:
The best breeds for the job:
In theory, any breed of dog may make a fantastic service animal, but it’s widely acknowledged that those breeds who are typically easier to train and have distinctly ‘workable’ personalities such as Golden Retrievers, Labradors and Border Collies, are often best suited for the job. In some cases, a larger dog might be required for physical assistance, but smaller breeds have many purposes as service dogs, too.
Provided your pooch has a suitable temperament and is in good health, then there is every chance they could qualify as a service dog.
The age and health of a service dog:
Your pet will need to go undergo regular health check ups from a qualified veterinarian to make sure that they are not suffering from any underlying health conditions that may hamper their ability to be a service dog, or cause them undue suffering or pain, such as arthritis and diabetes.All service dogs are required to be neutered and must be at least six months of age.
A service dog’s personality:
In some cases, there may be a fine line between an aggressive dog and a submissive one, but the general rule of thumb is the service dog should be calm and collected, while also being alert and able to respond quickly when necessary.
Finding a qualified trainer:
There are no legal requirements or certificates that a service dog must meet or hold in the U.S, but the service dog community have drawn up their own set of minimum standards for training. Be sure to find a trainer who is not only qualified, but who has a good reputation in the field.
International standards for the number of training hours a service dog should undergo before being ready for work in the field, are a minimum of 120 hours over a period of six months or more. A minimum of 30 of those hours should be time spent working with the public.
Public Access Test:
When assessing your dog’s readiness or suitability for working with the public, there are a series of basic expectations that your pet should meet, such as:
- Not showing aggression in the form of biting, barking or growling
- No solicitations for food treats or human affection
- Pooping and peeing only when instructed to
- Being able to stop sniffing related behaviours
- The ability to curb their excitement
Getting a service dog registered and kitted out:
Registering with the United States Service Dog Registry will help ensure that your service dog is awarded canine competency, as will documenting the training process and undergoing the public access test.
Finding a person for your service dog to assist:
If your dog has passed his tests with flying colours and is ready to be of service to someone, check with your local dog service organisations and community groups to help locate a person in need.
Service dogs can provide a vital lifeline for many people with disabilities, and so if you think your dog has got what it takes, why not start their training today and watch as your pet transforms the life of someone in need.