What to Know Before Getting a Service Dog

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If you struggle with a disability, then a good solution to improve your quality of life is to get a service dog.

Disabilities pose several challenges that can make basic tasks much more complicated. A well-trained service dog can bridge this gap and make much of your daily life easier.

Service dogs are specifically trained to be work animals for most of their existence. Unlike your average dog, they are often obedient and mild-mannered. This makes them a great pairing for someone who is in greater need of assistance.

Should you choose to get a service dog for disabilities, you’ll need to be aware of a few things first. This will ensure that you find the right companion that suits you and understand what owning a service animal entails.

To help you get started, we’ll point out five important considerations before getting a service dog below.

Understand What Service Dogs Help With

First, you need to understand what service dogs can help you with.

Service dogs are highly versatile and can perform many more tasks than you might expect. However, most service dog assistance can be grouped into one of four categories. This includes visual aid, mobility help, medical condition detection, and emotional support.

Visual aid is fairly straightforward. This is your typical seeing-eye dog that will help guide someone that is blind. They can help follow the right path and avoid unexpected dangers.

Mobility help is also extremely useful. This is where things get diverse because good training can be quite powerful.

A mobility dog can do anything from physically help you move around to carrying items for you or opening doors. Dogs are smart and capable despite lacking thumbs!

Service dogs trained to detect medical conditions are also effective. The two conditions involved here are typically diabetes and seizures. Dogs can detect low blood sugar levels or the warning signs of a seizure and alert their owner to warn them.

Emotional support dogs are also great companions. It’s important to note that there’s a difference between an emotional support animal and a service animal that provides emotional support.

An emotional support animal is often untrained and not a service animal. On the other hand, a service dog that provides emotional support would be used for situations like helping a child with autism regulate their emotions.

As you can see, dogs are surprisingly advantageous pals to have by your side, especially with a disability.

Consider Your Service Animal Needs

Next, you should consider your needs from a service dog.

This will depend on the circumstances of your disability and what you need help with the most. Your best option here is to speak with a service dog trainer and explain your situation to them.

While a service dog can help with many disabilities, you need a dog that can help yours. A dog that can only detect seizures won’t be very helpful if you need one that can help you see.

From this, you can also narrow down which breed might be best for you. Almost all dog breeds serve as capable service animals, but some tend to be better suited than others.

If you need help with mobility or visual aid, a larger breed is a better choice. For emotional support or detecting medical conditions, size matters less.

Each breed of dog tends to have dogs of a specific temperament. Take this into consideration and pick one that will gel with your personality.

Look For Positive Characteristics

When picking a service dog, you should look for positive personality and behavioral characteristics.

While each dog breed is a little different, each dog within a breed also has a unique personality. Golden retrievers are one of the best breeds for being a service dog, but that doesn’t mean that all golden retrievers will be a good service animal.

Due to their personalities, some dogs may be better suited as a companion or therapy dog rather than a service animal. If you need a dog that can take charge and physically help you with a disability, then you need a pup with specific personality characteristics.

In particular, you should look for dogs that are highly obedient, well-focused, and comfortable in any situation. This will provide you with a dog that behaves, resists distractions and temptations, and can handle anything that comes its way.

A service dog fitting this bill is what you need if you need a service animal to assist with a disability.

Service Dogs Require Commitment

Another important consideration is that service dogs require a serious commitment.

While a service dog is certainly meant to help you, it still comes with a responsibility to care for it. Service dogs are still animals and pets – they just work most of the time.

This means that all of the normal lifestyle changes that come with owning a dog also come with owning a service dog.

You’ll need to feed them a healthy and balanced diet, ensure they get plenty of exercise, keep them happy by playing frequently, and stay on top of any health concerns.

It also means that you’ll have a dog around the house all the time. They can be smelly, dirty, and frustrating to be around.

If you already have a dog, then this won’t be an adjustment for you. On the other hand, it may be a drastic change that you aren’t equipped to accommodate.

Consider if you can handle a dog in your life. They will undoubtedly make yours better, but they do come at a cost that must be met.

Closing Thoughts

Service dogs for disabilities are great tools for navigating life. They are trained to assist with daily tasks that would otherwise take a long time or cause pain.

Because of this, a great service dog will make things easier for you and improve your overall well-being. This requires finding the right service dog, which prompts a few considerations beforehand.

You must consider your service animal needs and what a service dog can do to help. You should also keep an eye out for positive characteristics and remember that a service dog requires commitment.

If you want a friend to lighten the burden of life, then you can’t go wrong with a furry service companion.

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