The medical dog: service dogs for people with health problems

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A medical dog also known as a service dog is a pet that is trained to help people suffering from different health issues. These dogs help ailing people lead normal lives. Most pets perform tasks or guide people that have certain disabilities. They also make ideal companions for the elderly or people suffering from seizures, mood disorders and other psychological illnesses.

Characteristics of a Medical Dog

Not all pets make ideal medical dogs. The pet’s temperament should be such that he is able to obey commands and guide disabled individuals. Pets that are extremely large in size and small breed dogs aren’t ideal. This is because a medical dog should be able to open and close doors, fit in a harness and travel on public forms of transportation. Breeds that can be very easily trained include Golden Retrievers, German Shepherds and Labradors.

Training Medical Dogs

Although pet owners can professionally train their dogs to help them around the house, most service dogs are first acquired from animal shelters. These pets have to undergo rigorous training because they have to learn how to act in different situations. Some dogs are specifically trained to help people with certain health problems like seizures or depression while other pets are trained to help disabled people in general.

Although the training takes place at a professional training center, some trainers are willing to offer in home training. This also helps the dog get adjusted to its new owner and home.

Types of Service Dogs Available

  • Dogs for the blind
  • Dogs for the hearing impaired
  • Pets for people suffering from psychiatric problems
  • Dogs that provide assistance
  • Pets that help people suffering from seizures
  • Therapy support dogs

Bringing Home a Medical Dog

If you wish to bring home a medical dog, you should contact specific organizations that are founded specifically for this purpose. The Assistance Dog International, NEADS Dogs for Deaf and Disabled Americans, Guide Dogs for the Blind and Paws with a Cause are a few organizations that offer trained dogs to help people with health issues.

It is not very expensive to bring home a trained medical pet because most organizations offer them at subsidized rates.

How Do Medical Dogs Help People?

Most medical pets are trained to deal with people suffering from specific ailments. Dogs for the deaf help their hearing impaired owners by alerting them to sounds in the house. For instance, they alert their owners of any sounds they hear like the doorbell, the phone or any type of alarm. On the other hand, pets trained to help people suffering from seizures, stay with their owners during seizures and also alert 911 during an emergency.

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Most dogs are also trained to help their owners use public transit, visit restaurants and use pedestrian crossings. Therefore, medical dogs make ideal companions for people suffering from disabilities or illnesses.

Disabled people who own service dogs are protected under the Americans with Disabilities act. According to this act, disabled pet owners are allowed to be accompanied by their medical dogs in places where they’re otherwise not permitted.

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