December 7, 2023

Service Dogs: What is their Job?

A blind man and his golden retriever dog are outdoors on a sunny day. The service dog is helping his owner move around.

Let the dog in: how institutions and colleagues can help scientists who  require support animals
When service dogs are in science labs, and experiments are being conducted, they too have to wear goggles to be safe.

The first service dogs arrived to the United States in the 1920’s. The purpose of these animals is to help people with disabilities. Some of these may be autism, epilepsy, diabetes, PTSD and sensory disabilities (Deaf, Blind). A few things they can detect are that seizure assistant dogs are trained to smell changes in their persons blood and this is enough time for the person to take necessary precautions. Where as Service dogs for people with mobility issues can turn on lights, push buttons on an elevator, pull their partner in a manual wheelchair, open doors, and even retrieve a wallet and offer it to the cashier.

Its important that if you see a service dog, that you leave them alone because when they have their vest on, they are working and helping their owner. For context, training can take up to 18-24 months as well as cost can be anywhere from $15,000-$30,000 and this rarely is covered by insurance. 

Is That a Real Service Dog? (Or Is it Just Someone's Pet?) - Orvis News

For most, these animals are life saving and are necessary for daily function. This allows people to become independent and not have to rely on another person. If they choose too, its 100% their choice this just creates freedom.  

Service Dogs - ALAA
The comparisons of therapy dogs, service dogs and emotional support animals.

Some of the tasks that they will do are deep compression therapy Deep pressure therapy (DPT)—or just pressure therapy—involves a dog using its weight and sometimes warmth to mitigate a psychiatric symptom, often either as a calming strategy or to minimize disengagement from the world. this helps the person from potentially hurting themselves when they are stressed.

Therapy dog hugs owner during mental health training session in moving  TikTok video | Nature | News |
Deep Pressure Therapy

For autistic people especially, when they are overwhelmed, they tend to do stim which is typically a repetitive movement or gesture. this can help relief stress but also create it so service dogs and therapy dogs are a great way to know when a situation is too much.

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A service dog visiting a hospital

On the other hand, for Deaf and Blind people, this gives access to independence and makes life much easier for the individual. For example, hearing service dogs can tell the difference between a doorbell, alarm clock, smoke alarm and even someone calling their persons name. Some other things that these animals can do is visit hospitals and cheer up sick people. Recently doctors and scientist have been training dogs to detect cancer in people in the hopes that they will get an earlier diagnosis and treatment.