61 million Americans live with a disability.   A service dog can many times help a person with disabilities live a more comfortable life. A service dog can help open doors, retrieve dropped items and even turn on lights. Service dogs that help with those suffering with PTSD can help with nightmares, retrieving items, calming anxiety and companionship in crowded situations.

There are multiple types of assistance dogs:

  • Guide Dogs – assist the visually impaired.
  • Hearing Dogs – assist the hearing impaired.
  • Service Dogs – help those with disabilities. Service dogs can help the diabetic with low blood sugar, those in wheelchairs, those with seizures, those suffering from anxiety disorders and those with balance issues.  Service dog types: Mobility Service Dog, Seizure Service Dog, Autism Service Dog, Diabetic Alert Service Dog, Psychiatric Service Dog, Service Dogs for Veterans with Military-related PTSD and Medical Alert Service Dog.

Dogs that are used for protection are not considered service dogs.

Choosing to incorporate a service dog into one’s life is a significant commitment that brings about profound changes. While many of these changes are positive, the presence of a service dog can also introduce complexities. The following insights have been gleaned over time and are crucial for anyone considering obtaining a service dog.

Service Dogs are Not Machines

Service dogs are expertly trained and typically reliable, but they remain animals with the capacity for accidents. They might become ill, requiring veterinary attention and financial readiness on the part of their handler. Moreover, there may be days when the dog is distracted or uncooperative, necessitating a day off for both the dog and the handler.

Continuous Training

To maintain a service dog’s skills, ongoing training is essential. Regular training sessions not only keep the dog engaged but also strengthen the bond between the dog and its handler.

High Costs

The cost of acquiring and maintaining a service dog, whether through owner training or professional programs, is considerable. This includes expenses for high-quality food, healthcare, grooming, and other necessities.

Public Curiosity

Service dogs in public spaces often attract attention, ranging from admiration to fear or allergies. Handlers should be ready for interactions and sometimes negative responses from the public.

Service Dogs Are Not a Panacea

While service dogs can significantly enhance one’s quality of life, they are not a magical solution to all problems. They require time, attention, and can complicate certain aspects of daily life. It’s important to have alternate strategies for managing without the service dog when necessary.

Community Representation

Service dog handlers represent the broader service dog community and should strive to maintain high standards of conduct and professionalism to preserve the rights and freedoms associated with service dog ownership.

Access Challenges

Not everyone is aware of service dog laws, which can lead to access issues. Handlers should be well-versed in relevant laws and prepared to educate others if needed.

No ID Required

The Department of Justice does not require service dogs to have any form of ID or registration for public access, and purchasing such documents can inadvertently support misinformation.

Identifying Gear

While service dogs are not legally required to wear identifying gear, some organizations, like Can Do Canines, mandate it for their dogs.

Not Always the Best Option

A service dog may not be suitable for everyone. It’s vital to consult healthcare professionals and experienced trainers to assess whether a service dog is the right choice for an individual’s specific needs.

Time Investment

Outings with a service dog often take longer due to the preparation involved and potential interactions with the public.

Protecting Your Dog

Handlers have a responsibility to ensure their service dog’s safety by using appropriate protective gear and being vigilant about potential hazards.

Maintain Fitness

Keeping a service dog fit is crucial for their health and longevity, especially given the physical demands of their role.

Not Every Dog Qualifies

The role of a service dog is demanding, and not all dogs have the temperament or training to perform reliably in every situation. Selecting the right dog is critical.

Owning a Service Dog is Challenging

The reality of having a service dog includes dealing with training, public attention, and the responsibility of caring for another living being.

Bonding Takes Time

Like any relationship, bonding with a service dog can take time, and it’s important to allow this process to unfold naturally.

Self-Education is Crucial

Understanding one’s rights regarding service dog use is essential, and educating others can help address misunderstandings and promote a supportive environment.

Consider Needs Over Preferences

When selecting a service dog, it’s important to prioritize the dog’s ability to perform its duties over breed preferences or aesthetics.

Risks of Owner Training

Training one’s own service dog carries risks, including the potential for the dog to not meet the necessary standards. It’s important to approach owner training with a realistic perspective.

Patience is Key

Developing a successful service dog partnership takes time, and rushing the process can lead to issues. A slow and steady approach is often more effective.

Not Everyone Will Understand

Not all individuals will appreciate the impact a service dog can have on a handler’s life, and it may be necessary to navigate changes in social dynamics.

Doubts are Normal

It’s common to experience doubts during the journey with a service dog, and seeking support from professionals and the community can be invaluable.

Epi-Genius Dogs

Superfoods for your SuperDog

Get Epi-Genius Dogs now and watch the positive results come forward in days.