Guide Dogs assist blind and visually impaired people by avoiding obstacles, stopping at curbs and steps, and negotiating traffic. The harness and U-shaped handle fosters communication between the dog and the blind partner. In this partnership, the human’s role is to provide directional commands, while the dog’s role is to insure the team’s safety even if this requires disobeying an unsafe command.
Hearing Dogs assist deaf or hearing impaired individuals by alerting them to a variety of household sounds such as a door knock or doorbell, alarm clock, oven buzzer, telephone, baby cry, name call or smoke alarm. Dogs are trained to make physical contact and lead their deaf partners to the source of the sound.
Hearing Dogs are generally mixed breeds acquired from animal shelters and are small to medium in size. Prior to formal audio response training, the younger adoptees are raised and socialized by volunteer puppy raisers.
Service Dogs assist people with disabilities other than vision or hearing impairment. With special training these dogs can help mitigate many different types of disabilities. They can be trained to work with people who use power or manual wheelchairs, have balance issues, have various types of autism, need seizure alert or response, need to be alerted to other medical issues like low blood sugar, or have psychiatric disabilities. These specially trained dogs can help by retrieving objects that are out of their person’s reach, by pulling wheelchairs, opening and closing doors, turning light switches off and on, barking to indicate that help is needed, finding another person and leading the person to the handler, assisting ambulatory persons to walk by providing balance and counterbalance, providing deep pressure, and many other individual tasks as needed by a person with a disability.
Service Dogs are either rescued from animal shelters or bred in selective breeding programs and raised by volunteers prior to their formal training. Most Service Dogs are Golden Retrievers or Labrador Retrievers. Service Dogs can be identified by either a backpack, harness or jacket.
A specially trained dog that is working with a professional who is trained by a program. The work of a facility dog can include visitations or professional therapy in one or more locations. Public access is permitted only when the dog and handler, who is a trained professional, is directly working with a client with a disability.
Standards are being developed