When we think of “man’s best friend” we tend to think of dogs as loving, loyal pets. However, it’s good to remember the benefit to the community of assistance dogs.
Assistance dogs perform a wide range of tasks for their owners who are less able and need assistance and support. Assistance dogs are trained to guide blind people, help people who are deaf, help people get around the home, and provide emotional support.
Knowing more about how dogs assist ones in our community who need extra support can help us appreciate the fine work they do.
Seeing-eye dogs, or guide dogs, are an invaluable help for people with vision impairment or who are totally blind. Guide dogs are trained to follow their owner’s commands but also have to learn “intelligence disobedience.” This is where they have to disobey their owners to avoid obstacles and keep them out of harm’s way.
Guide dogs have to stay focused all the time, whether they are near busy traffic, on public transport, or in the shopping mall. They need to be gentle mannered and good around children.
Some dogs are trained to help people who are deaf. The main purpose of hearing dogs is to respond to common sounds around the home and then lead their owners to the source. So, it could be the sound of the doorbell, a smoke alarm, or even the bell on the microwave.
In public places, hearing dogs stay alert for various sounds and alert their owners to the danger. So, it could be a car driver honking his horn, or the sound of a siren. When the dog stops and looks, their owners do the same.
Mobility assistance dogs
Some dogs are trained to help their owners be more independent around the home while, at the same time, providing needed companionship at the same time. Dogs that assist with mobility are especially useful for people in wheelchairs or who have mobility issues.
Some of the tasks that mobility assistance dogs are trained to do are:
- pick up objects from the floor
- fetch items
- open and close doors
- turn lights on and off.
They can also alert other people if their owner is needing special assistance.
People with special needs are greatly assisted by therapy dogs. They may not always live with the person who needs help but can be used by caregivers to help children in hospital feel better, reduce stress levels, help children learn how to treat animals, and much more.
Therapy dogs can also assist people with anxiety disorders, autism, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and similar health issues.
Therapy dogs are valuable assets to the community because they support many who have special learning needs and don’t respond well to verbal communication.