Many blind, deaf, or physically disabled people rely on dogs for assistance. These dogs provide the perfect combination of companionship, obedience, usefulness and affection. They provide practical aide and help maintain an individual’s independence.
WHAT IS ASSISTANCE DOGS FOR LIVING (ADL)?
WHAT ARE ASSISTANCE DOGS?
Assistance dogs are trained to perform tasks that assist a life-functioning need. Guiding, signaling, performing physical tasks, alerting to seizures, alerting to psychological/psychiatric disabilities and providing therapeutic companionship, are typically some of those tasks.
An individual need not have a visible or discernible disability in order to be partnered and benefit from the use of an Assistance Dog.
All categories of Assistance Dogs are granted access by Federal and State Laws.
Assistance Dog definition will vary from state to state. Assistance Dogs are defined as Service Dogs in the Federal Americanï¿½s with Disabilities Act (ADA).
ASSISTANCE DOGS CATEGORIES
Guide Dog Category – a dog which has been or is being specially trained to lead in harness and serves as aide to the mobility of a particular blind or visually impaired person. A guide dog will usually lead in harness.
Hearing Dog Category – a dog which has been or is being specially trained to alert a particular deaf or hard of hearing person to certain sounds. A hearing dog may wear a blaze orange collar and leash, cape, vest or harness.
Service Dog Category – a dog which has been or is being specially trained to the individual requirements of a physically disabled person to:
Pull a wheelchair
Provide counterbalance as a ï¿½walker dogï¿½
Fetch dropped items; or
Provide other support services to the person.
A service dog may be in harness, backpack or vest.
Alert/Response Dog Category – sometimes referred to as “seizure response dogs”, or “seizure alert dogs”, involves the training of dogs to work with individuals who have epilepsy or any of a variety of other seizure disorders. Alert/Response Dogs are also trained to work with individuals who have psychological/psychiatric disabilities. An alert/response dog may be in harness, backpack or vest.
Therapeutic Companion Dog Category – a dog that will provide companionship to therapeutically benefit the life of a person with a disability. These dogs usually have a basic skill level and not all dogs in this category are utilized in public. This category includes dogs for children with disabilities, utilized as a parenting tool for the therapeutic benefit to the child.
Therapeutic Companion Animal Category – an animal other than a dog that provides companionship to therapeutically benefit the life of a person with a disability. Not all dogs in this category are utilized in public.
Although public identification is not required, most dogs wear some form of visible identification to represent them as Assistance Dogs. You may see equipment such as a tag, vest, coat, harness, or backpack. Dogs can be mixed or purebred and of any size.
ASSISTANCE DOG ETIQUETTE
The following information listed below are suggestions that Assistance Dogs For Living recommends when meeting or interacting with an Assistance Dog team in public. This same etiquette applies to Assistance Puppies in training.
DOï¿½S and DONï¿½TS
DONT distract the dog from their working position by calling, clapping, or offering food.
DOï¿½allow the Assistance Dog to serve as a working partner without distraction.
DONT attempt to pet or touch an Assistance Dogï¿½this also applies to your children and dogs;
DOï¿½speak to the personï¿½not to the dog when greeting an Assistance Dog team.
DONT be insulted if your request to pet the Assistance Dog is not granted;
DOï¿½understand that releasing the dog to greet you might distract the dogs attentiveness to their partner.
DONT automatically tell the person that there are no dogs allowed.
DO ask if the dog with them is an Assistance Dog. If they say yesï¿½no further access questions are necessary.
DONT assume that the dog is not an Assistance Dog because the person doesnï¿½t look disabled;
DO observe the conduct and interaction between the person and the dog. If the dog is being attentive to his or her partner and functioning close to them, you are looking at the main characteristics of an Assistance Dog.