Having a dog means having a loyal and true friend for life, a work partner, and an invaluable family member.
A canine offers love and affection unconditionally, which is why it is so easy to create a bond within just a few days.
Pet ownership gradually developed a new category – providing assistance and support to people with numerous types of disabilities, both for adults and children.
Today, we are talking more about a canine companion – mobility assistance dog.
The fact one has to reassess and readjust so many aspects of their life appears more than challenging.
Not only mobility assistance dogs provide wholehearted support with handling daily tasks, but they also have their ways to improve the emotional state of their owners.
To find out more about what mobility assistance dog is, which task your pet-friend can handle, and the best mobility assistance breeds for mobility, stay with us for a couple of minutes.
What Is a Mobility Assistance Dog?
An assistance dog is a pre-trained service pet providing daily assistance with multiple tasks to persons with certain medical conditions that make it impossible to live fully independently.
A mobility service dog becomes a teammate, your best friend, your unconditional support over time.
Through helping you perform not-so-feasible daily tasks to their partners, mobility service dogs make it possible to live a better and brighter life.
In Which Ways Mobility Assistance Dogs Help People Improve the Quality of Their Lives?
A range of tasks an assistance dog can provide is indeed impressive.
Yet, just like we mentioned – their presence in your life is far more extensive than performing some of the tasks you need help with.
In other words – the appeal of a service dog runs much deeper than carrying items and opening doors.
The bond a dog establishes with its human counterpart turns into its meaning of life, its purpose.
An invaluable boost to your happiness and mobility, a mobility assistance dog will make you realize how much of a support they are in the following aspects:
Giving a helpful hand
- Carrying things – When trained, a dog can hold, carry, and bring items to their owners when told,
- Retrieving – Similarly, assistance dogs can retrieve items (including personal need equipment and medicines) on command and even learn items by name,
- Opening doors – Trained dog knows how to open doors and cabinets by pulling the attached rope,
- Pushing buttons – When needed, a mobility assistance dog pushes door or elevator buttons on command and uses remote controls,
- Finding phones and making external calls to ask for help,
- Turning lights on and off,
- Some service dogs can pay bills by using money or credit card or take a receipt.
- Provides balance to the handler when he/she feels weak or dizzy,
- Helps the handler to sit down or pulls him/her up (when the handler has muscle problems, weakness of the lower or upper part, arthritis),
- Provides support to the handler who uses a wheelchair by moving the wheelchair according to the handler’s needs.
- Spending time with their human teammates, service dogs alleviate their stress and anxiety,
- Help them increase their social skills,
- Provides companionship and psychological improvement.
Knowing someone so devoted is by your side truly brings fulfillment.
With true dedication, a human being and their mobility assistance dog can accomplish whatever task they want.
Is Receiving Help from a Mobility Assistance Dog the Right Option for You?
Kids and adults diagnosed with:
- Spinal cord injuries,
- Cerebral palsy,
- Multiple sclerosis,
- Cardiac disorders,
- Traumatic brain injuries,
- Muscular dystrophy,
- Visual impairments,
- Gait difficulties,
and metabolic disorders are highly recommended to receive help from a service dog.
Some of the most important pre-conditions for opting for a service dog are:
- You love dogs,
- You have muscle control in your arms,
- You have solid communication skills and patience required for the training process and living with a service dog,
- You have enough finances to provide the needed care and veterinary assistance to your teammate.
The Training Process
Now that we mentioned training in the previous section, we will explain in-rough how things with this work.
The dogs already received the training before working with the disabled party.
The training usually takes about 14 days, when the handler bonds with the dog, reinforces the initial training and goes through some practical, real-life experience.
For instance, you will take your dog into the public setting – parks, shopping malls, restaurants, etc.
You will also learn how to play with your dog, encourage him verbally, and give him rewards.
Once you are done with the final tests, you and your companion will receive a certification.
Why Are Some Dog Breeds More Suitable Than the Others?
As you can suppose yourself, any dog can become a service dog once trained.
However, some dog breeds possess certain traits and physical characteristics that make them more suitable for service.
These characteristics make these breeds learn and perform a myriad of daily tasks way easier than the other breeds who may have some issues like separation anxiety.
Speaking on physical traits, we will point out to their size at maturity, strength, and stamina that make a certain breed an ideal teammate.
Why these traits?
Well, some dog breeds may find it difficult to handle and carry heavy objects, draw a wheelchair, reach elevator buttons or lights, or provide stable balance support.
We will talk about this in detail in the following section.
On the other hand, some breeds can’t get instructions easily, which is one of the most important traits for a handler.
In other words, some dog breeds are more intelligent and provide a better agreement, are more determined, and are more aware.
Service dogs are well-mannered and have the mental capacity to handle different challenges and environments.
These dogs are capable of comprehending a human with a disability needs their help.
What to Look for In a Service Dog
When making a breed choice, you should pay attention to some of the following dog breed traits:
- Size at maturity
Just like we mentioned above, the size range of the breed is an important factor when selecting a breed for your mobility assistance buddy.
A general rule says a service dog should be at least 22-inch tall and weighing 55 lbs. minimum.
These dogs are capable of providing wheelchair assistance and pulling weight.
If a service dog should pull weights over 130 lbs, it should be in greater size, weighing 60 lbs. at least.
If an average size woman needs walking assistance, her mobility assistance buddy should be at least 23-inch tall.
Yet, if the handler doesn’t use a harness with a sturdy handle, but an ordinary harness, the handler should look for a dog at least 27-inch tall.
The goal here is to provide a hand rest on the service dog’s back.
Even though most dog breeds live 10 to 12 years, some (the Bernese Mt. Dog for instance) have a shorter lifespan – up to 6 years maximum.
People usually choose dog strains with a longer lifespan as possible, as creating a bond with their puppy turns into strong love and affection.
This goes as deep as some humans see their furry friends as their kids.
Losing their best friend and support is painful, especially if the handler lives alone.
Most small and medium-size dogs live a bit shorter than their larger counterparts.
Yet, even though very huge breeds live up to 12 years in general, some of them can live for 4 years.
This is why consulting a professional would be the best option here.
Even though most dog owners don’t care as much about their furry pet’s odors, some of them still do (especially when living in an apartment).
Samoyeds are one of the friendliest strains.
Their coat is odor-free, Smooth Coated Collie as well (when bathed from time to time).
Yet, Golden Retriever and Labrador Retriever have a smelly coat.
When wet from the rain, these breeds tend to give off a truly unpleasant smell.
Yet, no one can deny how great these species are when it comes to providing assistance.
- Coat care
Now that we are talking about the coat, you already know most dogs have their grooming requirements.
Are you willing to comb your buddy’s long hair for two hours every week?
Whatever your answer is – you will find your ideal mate.
If you are dreaming of a Standard Puddle, we guess you don’t care about the expensive maintenance this breed requires.
On the other hand, some breeds need no more than a simple brushing – Labrador Retriever for example.
It takes only about 5 minutes a week to brush its hairs off, especially because this breed is short-haired.
Either way, you should still shed your shorter hair doggo – at least three times a day.
In case you have some doubts over a mobility service dog, here are top service dog breeds for mobility:
- Golden Retriever
The already mentioned, the Golden Retriever, deserves the title of the best service dog breeds.
People with visual or hearing impairments simply love this species, while they also mingle so well with kids.
The Golden Retriever is kind-hearted and truly compassionate about humans.
Also, this breed has a strong intellectual capacity for training and performing tasks.
Without any need for domination or aggressiveness, the Golden Retriever has optimal build and stamina, as well as traits such as reliability, compassion, and patience.
- Labrador Retriever
The ability of the Labrador Retriever to learn, help, and support is endless.
Very sociable, both kids and adults bond with this species easily.
Always on the alert, compassionate, playful at times, friendly, and with the strong build, the Labrador Retriever is welcome into every house where he is needed.
- American Staffordshire Terrier
We guess we surprised you with this one, huh?
Believe it or not, the American Staffordshire Terrier is one of the most sensitive and emotional breeds, ideal for being a service dog.
Besides, they are always there for their owners when they need help (even with medicines) and are up for a rescue task no matter of time.
- Standard Poodle
The gracious and well-mannered Standard Poodle is a very intelligent, eager, and curious species that can provide ultimate support to people lacking balance, the ones using prosthetics, or the ones who are using wheelchairs.
Their large size is indeed a great benefit for people using wheelchairs or the ones who are unsteady on their feet, as the Standard Poodle can offer assistance with numerous tasks.
A bit reserved towards strangers and other animals, the Standard Poodle acts a bit patronizing towards their owner and doesn’t like spending much time alone, but you won’t ever blame this gorgeous fur for its endless love.
If you are a dog lover and a physically disabled person with certain mobility issues (using a wheelchair, lacking balance, using prosthetics), why wouldn’t you bond with a mobility assistance dog?
Partnering with a service dog will make it way easier to perform daily tasks, but most importantly – this dog is going to turn to your best friend, a companion, whom you are going to share your bites, your laughs, and your life with.
Talented, smart, and compassionate – a mobility assistance dog will help you gain confidence again, improve your everyday independence, and help you live a more fulfilled and happier life.
Dayna has an incredible passion for helping others and a background as an in-home caregiver for the elderly. She left the field temporarily three years ago to stay at home with her twins, but found that she really missed working with senior citizens. She launched LoAids as a way to help not just her own loved ones and former clients, but ALL seniors live life to the fullest in their golden years. Follow her on LINKEDIN and TWITTER. Read her LATEST POSTS. Learn more about her HERE.