Helpful Hounds: How Dogs Lend a Paw

Dogs are amazing snugglers, crumb vacuum cleaners, furry companions, and slobbery greeters. But for those with certain disabilities, they’re so much more. Service dogs are specific pups trained to do very important tasks for their human handlers. We’re all about celebrating all types of pets, and we want to give a shoutout to these hard-working, helpful hounds.

Guide Dogs

For those who are blind or visually impaired, guide dogs are key in helping them navigate the world around them. They’re the most well-known type of service dogs and can help with a variety of tasks like crossing the street and avoiding obstacles. Most guide dogs are larger breeds like Labs, Goldens, and German Shepherds.

Credit: Shutterstock

Hearing Dogs

People with hearing impairments sometimes need an extra hand….or paw. Hearing dogs are trained to alert their humans to sounds like sirens, alarms, doorbells, or crying babies. The dogs locate the sound and help bring their human to the source. Labs and Goldens are popular choices, but hearing dogs can also include smaller pups. Cocker Spaniels, Mini Poodles, Shih Tzus, and even Chihuahuas can be trained as hearing dogs.

Mobility Assistance Dogs

A well-trained pup can bring in the newspaper every morning, but mobility assistance dogs take things a step further. They help people who have problems getting around or are in a wheelchair. They’re trained to do everything from opening doors and fetching items to pulling wheelchairs and even paying at cash registers. They can also provide the stability their owners need when walking around. These pups can help people with a variety of different injuries and illnesses, but they must be larger breeds so they can fully support their human handlers.


Allergy Detection Dogs

Those super sniffy snoots our pooches are blessed with? Turns out they’re good for more than just smelling the fire hydrant. For people with serious food allergies, allergy detection dogs can literally save their lives. They can sniff out things like peanuts or gluten, especially for kids who might not be as careful as their parents might like.  

Diabetic Alert Dogs

A pup’s super sense of smell can suss out more than food. Diabetic alert dogs have such a keen nose that they can actually sense changes in blood sugar. So whether their human’s sugar is too high or too long, these talented pups can tell. They alert their owner, who can then test their blood and take the correct medication. If the situation gets too dangerous, the pup knows where to go to get some help.

Seizure Dogs

There are two different types of seizure dogs. The first (and more controversial) type is called a seizure alert dog. According to some, these pups actually have the ability to predict seizures before they happen. Others, however, say there’s no way a dog can actually do this ( ¯\_(ツ)_/¯). The second (and more widely accepted) type is called a seizure response dog. These pups make sure their owner is as safe as possible when they experience a seizure by barking for help, bringing them to a safe place, and saving them from injury by breaking their fall.

Autism Assistance Dogs

People (especially children) with autism are often overwhelmed by seemingly everyday things. An autism assistance dog is there to help out when life can get just a little too stressful. These pups are also great for encouraging social interaction, which can be difficult for those on the spectrum. Because who wouldn’t want to interact with an adorable, friendly pooch!

Psychiatric Service Dogs

Psychiatric service dogs cover a wide range of illnesses like anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, or depression. They serve as wonderful canine companions that can put their owners at ease in a few different ways. They make them feel safer by entering a room first, provide a physical barrier between the handler and other people, and give them a very good excuse to get outside and exercise. So even though a person might not look disabled, that doesn’t mean their service pup isn’t hard at work.

Credit: Paws and Stripes/Facebook

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Sarah Cookson

Writer/Dog Enthusiast living in New York City. Only goes to parties in hopes there will be a dog there to hang out with. Her resolutions for 2017 were to eat healthier and pet more pups. Bet you can guess which one she stuck with.

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