Posted on Aug 25th 2020
Our furry four-legged companions are so much more than "man's best friend." Advances in dog training techniques allow talented trainers to harness the unique intelligence of dogs in therapeutic ways. Thanks to these service dog training programs, therapy dogs are changing lives across the nation for hundreds of thousands of people.
While all dogs offer love and companionship, therapy dogs are critical, hardworking pets. Individuals with therapy dogs can count on their four-legged pal for assistance with everyday activities, emotional support and physical well being. Autistic children can rely on a therapy dog to help them navigate the world, while veterans suffering from PTSD can lean on their furry pal for emotional support. The therapeutic potential of these talented and intelligent animals is impressive. With incredible patience and the ability to support those in need, dogs truly are the best companion animal any person could wish for.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) defines a service dog as "a dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for a person with a disability." The abilities of service animals are various and depend on the needs of the handler. Below are just a few examples of the awesome talents of these special animals:
Services dogs can be trained to assist in a variety of tasks for disabled individuals, such as improving balance and gait, assisting handlers up and downstairs, safely leading blind individuals, alerting deaf handlers to important noises, retrieving objects and medicines, opening and closing doors and more. These basic tasks allow disabled individuals to feel more confident and independent in their daily lives.
Alert Dangerous Conditions
Dogs have an incredibly strong sense of smell and can detect even the slightest chemical changes. This is useful for individuals who suffer from certain disorders like diabetes and epilepsy. Changes in blood sugar and an epileptic event give off scents that trained dogs can detect and then alert their handler to the danger. These dogs can prevent an emergency from happening or even save their handler's life!
Assist Handlers in an Emergency
Individuals with epilepsy or other health conditions may be prone to emergencies. A service dog is important for these people as they can find their handler help by alerting others to the emergency. Service dogs can also be trained to call 911 to alert medical professionals to the situation.
Support Mental Health
Mental health disorders like depression, anxiety and panic disorder greatly reduce quality of life. Service dogs can be trained to assist handlers that suffer from these types of disorders by providing comfort in triggering environments, initiating pressure therapy and providing tactile stimulation to reduce anxiety-provoking situations. Care for a service animal also enhances mental health by encouraging handlers to get outside and be active.
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can afflict anyone who has been in a traumatizing, life-altering event such as a car accident, abuse, natural disaster or combat, Many veterans returning from duty report an inability to live life comfortably due to PTSD. Service dogs can be trained to specifically assist handlers that suffer from PTSD by providing emotional comfort, entering and searching rooms before their handler and creating a barrier between handlers and other individuals in crowded environments.
While dogs can bring joy to anyone's life, their unique abilities allow them to provide much more than companionship. Service dogs are considered working animals and should be treated with respect. You should never approach or try to pet a service dog that is not yours. These animals must remain alert to the needs of their handler and any dangers in the environment, so distractions from strangers are not welcome.
If you think a service dog could be useful to you or a loved one, Dog Training Elite offers various service dog training programs. We have helped veterans suffering from PTSD, like Juan Perez, and thousands of others find stability and confidence in their life with our service dog training.