Mobility Assistance Dogs
Service Dogs for People with Physical Disabilities
Man’s best friend is the greatest way to describe dogs, and it continues to hold true at Canine Partners for Life. Not only do dogs give you unrivaled love and affection from their adorable puppy stage until they grow old, but they can also support and assist you if you have a mobile disability.
Having a canine companion will help you complete daily tasks with ease and enlighten your emotional state. Instead of relying on people around you for additional support, your canine partner will be with you every step of the way no matter your condition.
What Is a Mobility Assistance Dog?
You have most likely seen people accompanied by an assistance dog whether they are in a wheelchair or walking next to the canine’s harness. They could be moving down the street or getting groceries — but what is a mobility support dog?
A service dog is a trained canine that performs various tasks for their human partners who have a disability. They help you with functions otherwise impossible to complete on your own and can increase your independence while decreasing your dependence on other people.
For example, dogs trained to assist with mobility can open automatic doors, retrieve out-of-reach objects and bring up dropped articles to your hands. Canine Partners for Life mobility assistance dogs are trained to serve as a brace for their partner by wearing a harness for those who suffer from strength and balance issues.
Instead of struggling on your own to finish daily movements, your mobility service dog can act as your support system with everything you do. They can even assist you on all forms of public transportation like airplanes and buses. Assistance dogs are great companions for those with disabilities because they offer more than just companionship; they’re relied upon for many day to day activities.
Mobility assistance dogs support you when moving from place to place and are a unique type of service dog, trained to help you with movement whether it’s by foot or wheelchair. They serve as invaluable helpers in public as well as in your home. When you fit your house to accommodate different tasks, your dog can open and close doors, turn lights on and off and find other people in the house when help is necessary.
While your mobility assistance dog is here to support you, you also have to give them as much love and affection. It’s vital to reward your assistant dog with verbal reassurance as well as treats, encouragement and playtime. You must set aside time for genuine affection and fun games. It’s important to be consistent with training, and you should praise them for their care.
Who Benefits From Mobility Assistance Service Dogs?
By law, someone requesting a mobility service dog must have a developmental, physical or psychiatric disability. Whether you have difficulty upholding your balance, walking from one place to the next or need medical assistance during emergencies, you can partner with an assistance dog. Both you and the canine have regulations and particular rights such as transportation, lodging and access to goods and services without discrimination. Research the ADA requirements for service animals to see if you qualify.
Service dogs are available to people who cannot perform daily tasks because of a physical impairment, disorder or disability that affects their ambulation, mobility or maneuverability. In the United States, about 39.5 million adults have difficulty with physical functions. However, a partnership with a service dog can benefit children and adults who have disabilities such as:
- Brain injury
- Cerebral palsy
- Coordination problems
- Gait difficulties
- Impaired balance
- Multiple sclerosis
- Muscular dystrophy
- Neurological, cardiac or metabolic disorder
- Spina bifida
- Spinal cord injury
Any type of medical condition that inhibits you from living independently often grants you access to work with a mobility dog. Even if you have prosthetics or assistive devices like a wheelchair, scooter, cane, walker, crutches, braces or lifts, a support dog can help you perform an insurmountable number of functions throughout the day. Not only are they there for physical support but also emotional and mental care.
People who need extra provisions with balancing, standing, remaining stable, moving around, getting help, interacting with people and the environment, monitoring medical alarms and communicating in states of emergency are also those who can benefit from working with an assistance dog — along with those who experience debilitating pain, dizziness or severe fatigue that reduces their ability to walk without assistance.
If you require provisions when transitioning from one position to the next like sitting or standing or if you need medical assistance while waiting for professionals to arrive, service dogs can handle any situation with proper training. About 500,000 service dogs assist children and adults in the United States each day.
Tasks Mobility Assistance Dogs Can Help With
- Providing support/stability while walking and going up and down stairs
- Support during dressing and undressing
- Retrieving a phone
- Hitting elevator buttons
- Opening and closing doors, drawers and closets
- Pressing automatic door openers
- Retrieving dropped items
- Turning the lights on and off
- Carrying bags and small objects
Mobility assistance dog responsibilities are infinite. Each service dog performs actions it’s trained to conduct. If you have a daily routine, your canine partner will learn what you need and may even look to you for their next command before you even give it. Typical daily tasks play a huge role in both the person’s, and the dog’s lives, and these tasks can become routine for the two. Although some of these tasks may become routine, the service dog will still need to be given a specific command in order to do something for their person.
Aside from routine tasks, Mobility assistance dogs are also trained to support a handler who may have fallen and is trying to recover, get back up or get back into their wheelchair. Some service dogs can help with more obscure tasks such as retrieving medicine.
How Are Mobility Assistance Dogs Trained?
Like many things in life, there’s not a cookie-cutter training method nor is there a “one-dog fits all” idea we use for each dog. When you apply to receive an assistance dog, we determine your specific needs and match it to the ability of one particular dog.
At Canine Partners for Life, we first select your mobility assistance dog based on its innate abilities and characteristics. We choose one that is calm and resilient to distractions. We then train the canine for general assistance and obedience. As the final step, we teach them how to interact with you and how to perform particular duties parallel to your needs.
Our selection is specific to your symptoms and the dog’s capabilities. We begin training early in the puppy stage, as early as eight weeks old. However, we wait to prepare them for stability work until they finish growing. In the end, your dog will possess training specialized for you. Your companion will develop skills to eliminate or mitigate your disability.
The intense, rigorous and precise nature of their work requires behavioral and training standards and it’s vital for mobility support dogs to perform jobs well even in challenging and distracting environments. Their success relates to a person’s health and wellbeing.
Many mobility service dogs perform physical tasks that require meticulous attention to details and precise movements as well as knowing about behavioral changes in their human. They must often think, solve problems and perform in stressful situations where their handler may fully rely upon them. Mobility service dogs are trained to respond directly to you, with the ability to independently implement various tasks at home, in public or other environments that may be unfamiliar.
And although your supportive canine is there to support your disability, it’s also imperative you give your dog support and love like any other. They will need care which will maximize their comfort and safety, helping you in the end. Because training falls back onto you as an owner, you should be reliable and consistent. You can also introduce different variables into situations to make your dog full-proof against distractions.
Dog Breeds for Mobility Support
It comes down to the vital question of, “what breeds of dog are best for mobility assistance?” Many canines have an athletic build and structure, not to mention their capacity to listen, learn and train. At Canine Partners for Life we train Labrador retrievers, Golden retrievers, Poodles, and mixes of those breeds.
Classic traits and characteristics of these breeds embrace the skills to be responsive and quiet as well as social and friendly. They aren’t timid, anxious, fearful or aggressive. The best dog breeds for mobility assistance interact with other people and their owner as opposed to other dogs and stimuli in the environment. They are often motivated by food and toys but not to the point of distraction.
Apply for a Mobility Assistance Dog
Canine Partners for Life is a non-profit organization where we believe the lives of those we serve will change forever when we provide them with a mobility assistance service dog. Your canine partner will give you incredible opportunities and independence you weren’t able to accomplish before. You will gain a stable relationship with a service or companion dog that knows how to perform various tasks during individual situations.
We train dogs for alert, companion and support. If you’re interested in working with a mobility service dog, reach out to Canine Partners for Life and download the application below. See how a mobility assistance dog has helped others in the past, and check out all of our service dog stories online.