What to Expect From a Service Dog

A Service Dog is a dog that is specifically trained to help people with disabilities such as visual, hearing impairments, seizures, post traumatic stress disorders autism, mental illness and ambulatory issues.

The service dog must have desirable character traits including good temperament, psychological makeup such as train-ability and must be in good health.

They must be physically fit and have sufficient stamina.  Many of the service dogs are bred and trained by an organization.

The most common breeds that are easy to train include Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, and German Shepherds.  However, it is worth noting that any breed or mix of breeds is capable of being trained as a service dog depending on the temperament qualities and health status.

In the US, service animals are defined as dogs that are trained to perform a myriad of  tasks including guiding people who are blind, deaf or those pulling the wheelchair. It may also alert people who are having seizure or individuals who are mentally ill so that they may take medication.

Well trained service dogs are expected to do the following when in public:

  • Focus on its handler at all times unless it is doing the task that is trained to do
  • Be stable, not be anxious or react aggressively.
  • Walk nicely without pulling, lunging, straining, circling, lagging or forging
  • Remain quiet and walk by the handlers’ side.  When the handler stops, the dog should not wander or lose focus.
  • It should lie quietly besides the handlers chair and should not get up and move excessively.
  • It should ignore distractions and remain quiet unless performing a specific task it is trained to perform. If it is not performing its work, the dog should not grumble, bark, whimper or make unnecessary noise.
  • The dog should appear professional, should be well groomed and should be well taken care of.
  • The dog should keep to herself and should not sniff people or objects even when there is food or exciting and interesting things within its visibility.
  • It should respond fast to the handler’s command, direction and cue. They should be obedient, be of average manners, and should be of good demeanor.

The service dog is also responsible for calming people with Post Traumatic Stress disorder when they are under attack.  Ideally, service animals are considered as working dogs and not pets. The dog must be trained to provide the service to persons with disabilities. They provide comfort, emotional support and other duties.


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