Specialized Training – Assistance Dogs and more

It is a fact that dogs can be trained for some pretty interesting roles and purposes and we have been doing so for many years. We have all heard of police dogs and rescue dogs. Dogs who are able to sniff out drugs or bombs, ones that can find people after earthquakes. There are a a number of reasons one might need a specialized trained dog. Assistance dogs can be make a large difference not just to the blind, but for the death, for diabetics and so on. Here we look at some of the important roles a dog can take on with specialized training.

Benefits to specialized dog training

While one of the most well known support roles dogs can play is as a guide dog for the blind there are many others. People with special needs are more able to live independent lives with the help of assistance dogs. The hearing impaired, people with mobility issues, diabetics, psychiatric, the list of those who benefit from dogs with specialized training is extensive. Certain breeds to be better in training than others. It requires dogs with intelligence, a love of training and duties, a good temperament and to be reliable. The type of training depends on what the person needs from their dog too. They may need help in one specific area or across several areas so each dog's training can be different.

Assistance dogs and therapy dogs can be of benefit to everyone. You can see therapy dogs trained for specific tasks helping people in hospitals, hospices and nursing homes, working in places of stress and pain to offer comfort and help. They are often in particular of great help to the elderly and the young. Therapy dogs can be any breed, as more important is their temperament. Patience is essential and tolerance and they may need to be able to deal with small groups of people at a time.

Types of specialized trained dogs

Medical alert assistance dogs

Psychiatric Alert –

People who have been diagnosed with a condition that is psychological like PTS (post traumatic stress), TBI (traumatic brain injury), CPTS (complex post traumatic stress), MST (military sexual trauma) or a personality disorder and is under medical care can use a medical alert assistance dog to help lead a more independent life. They do so by helping with tasks that the handler either can no longer perform themselves or have difficulty doing so. Tasks the dog can do include checking out rooms, alerting the handler to people approaching from behind them, interrupting nightmares, physically interrupting episodes if they are disruptive, and tracking the levels of cortisol in their handler.

Diabetes Alert –

Dogs have an amazing sense of smell and cab be trained to identify changes in a person's scent with regards to the low blood sugar and hypoglycemia. If a dog detects a drop they re trained to alert their handler to check their levels and take medication.

Allergen Alert –

If the handler has a serious allergy like peanuts a medical alert assistance dog can help by learning to sniff out that allergen and alerting their handler or someone near by if they detect it.

Hearing Alert –

For people who have hearing disabilities a medical alert assistance dog is trained to help them with normal day to day sounds. When the alarm clock goes off the dog will wake their handler up, if the phone rings, if someone is at the door, if the smoke detector goes off. Outside they are trained to assist with sirens, someone calling their handler's name, a reversing vehicle's beep. Each time they get the handler's attention to notify them and show them the sound's source.

Incident Alert –

In this case incident alert dogs are trained to respond to situations that are an emergency with pre-defined commands. This may involve alerting a family member, fetching emergency medications, pressing an emergency alert button and so on. The dog can also be trained to open the door for emergency responders and lead help to their handler. Specific conditions dogs can be trained for include but are not limited to heart conditions, brain aneurisms and seizures. It is important to understand that the dogs are not trained to sense an episode prior to it happening, though sometimes a dog will learn to pre-alert over some time.

Narcolepsy Alert –

People with narcolepsy may need help with being woken up when their alarm clock rings, they can also experience a dog like state that disorientates them. The dog is trained to direct them when their handler becomes disoriented and to lead them away from danger if needed. They will also wake up their handler when they hear certain designated sounds. Narcolepsy alert dogs can also alert their handler to the time of day when they need to be reminded to take medication. If the individual also has Cataplexy it is a good idea that they be assigned a dog that has a secondary classification of training in incident response alert.

Specialized Partner dogs for the home

Sometimes people need more assistance in the home than out of it and these are called specialized partner dogs. These dogs are not trained for travel or the public. They have basic obedience training, advanced obedience training and skills and behaviors specified to the handler;s needs. They offer comfort and help around the home and as such, though they do get a lot of training they are not technically considered assistance or service dogs and do not get any kind of certification.

Neurological and physical assistance dogs

Tactile pressure/sensory development –

This assistance dog is trained for handlers with developmental disabilities. They are trained to alert someone close by of their handler leaves a designated area. Also to distract or alert from their handler's motor tics, movements or vocal tics and are trained to convey pressure and receive it.

Mobility assistance dogs –

These dogs help their handler with mobility issues or limitations caused by conditions such as vertigo, equilibrium disabilities and so on. The dog is trained to help provide stability, balance, and support those who are wheelchair bound. In some cases dogs can also be trained with additional abilities like retrieval work so that the handler can point a laser pen at something and the dog can go fetch it for them.

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