Service dog

From Academic Kids

A service dog, a type of assistance dog, is a dog that is specially trained to help people who have disabilities with everyday tasks. According to Assistance Dogs International (http://www.adionline.org), "The three types of Assistance Dogs are guide dogs for the blind and the visually impaired, hearing dogs for the deaf and hard of hearing, and service dogs for people with disabilities other than those related to vision or hearing." They are trained and bred by private organizations. A service dog can be identified by the scarf, jacket, or harness it wears.

Service dogs are trained how to pick up objects, open and close doors, and operate light switches. Some service dogs are trained to pull individuals in wheelchairs. During their training, the dogs usually spend a year or more with a host family to become acquainted with working around people. Many service dogs continue their training after they are formally placed with a person, usually on a yearly basis.

The process of obtaining a service dog varies by each organization. Normally, an application must be submitted, and a wait list is usually involved. The costs for a service dog also vary.

Patience and repetition are critical components of successful animal training for service dogs. In the United States, use of selected inmates in prisons as animal trainers has proved a valuable resource to service animal agencies. In addition to teaching the dogs basic obedience and other skills needed to prepare them for their future careers and thereby adding to the short-supply of service animals, such programs in correctional centers have proved to be mutually beneficial relationships. Often, the inmates develop improved socialization skills and behavior as a result of their work with the dogs.

Service dogs and their handlers enjoy special protection under the U.S. Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, which gives them equal access to public facilities, such as restaurants, parks, taxis, and airplanes.

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