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  • Writer's pictureThousand Hills Pet Resort

Service Dog Awareness Month: What is a Service Dog?

By Hannah Stein

Did you know there are approximately 500,000 service dogs in the United States? 500,000 highly trained, intelligent, hard working, and loving dogs creating better lives for Americans with disabilities. In honor of September being National Service Dog Month, let's dive into some common questions about service dogs.

What are some of the different types of service dogs?

  1. Guide dogs for the blind and visually impared. These service dogs help their masters by providing guidance and navigation.

  2. Hearing dogs for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Hearing dogs are trained to alert their masters for sounds, such as a doorbell, crying baby, timer, or fire alarm.

  3. Seizure response dogs (SRD’s) help those with epilepsy or other seizure disorders by activating emergency service responders and removing their masters from a dangerous situation.

  4. Autism Service dogs stop dangerous behavior, alert important noises, and provide emotional support.

  5. Diabetic alert dogs take advantage of dogs' incredible ability to use their sense of smell to detect blood glucose levels. These dogs alert their handlers when blood glucose levels are too high or too low.

  6. Allergic detection dogs help people with severe allergies avoid anaphylactic shock by sniffing out the handler’s allergens in the environment. 

  7. Mobility assistance dogs provide a variety of tasks (e.g.; opening a door or picking something up off of the floor) to help masters in wheelchairs.

  8. Another important service dog and the focus at New Life K9s are the Post- traumatic stress disorder service dogs. Specially trained PTSD service dogs help their master sleep, provide mobility support, fetch medicine, give physical contact during stress, and offer snuggles for emotional support. Read more about New Life K9’s here!

Who trains service dogs?

Because it is a long and tedious process, service dogs are most commonly trained by professional dog-trainers and training organizations from puppyhood. Additionally, service dogs may be trained by owners.

What dog breeds can be service dogs?

Service dogs come in many different 4-legged shapes and sizes. For guide and mobility dogs, larger K9’s, like Labrador Retrievers and Golden Retrievers, are ideal because of their size. Larger dogs have the physical advantage to perform tasks that require heavy lifting and height. 

Where are service dogs allowed?

The ADA specifies that service dogs are permitted in State and local governments, businesses, and nonprofit organizations. Essentially, wherever the public would normally go. In order for a service dog to do its job, the ADA has established there are few places a service dog cannot perform the necessary work.

How should I act around a service dog?

Working dogs are like working humans! When focused on a task at work, people do not like being distracted and neither do service dogs. The best reaction to a service dog is to give space. If you are eager to approach the service dog, always ask the handler for permission to interact and respect any boundaries.

Anyone who owns a dog understands how enriching our pups are to our lives. Service dogs go above and beyond by performing life-saving tasks for people with disabilities. For Service Dog Awareness Month, we are especially grateful to the 500,000 service dogs that work loyally everyday to improve the lives of their masters.


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