Monday, August 12, 2013

Celebrate International Assistance Dog Week 2013

Assistance dogs play such an important role in the lives of humans they work with that the week of August 4th-10th has been recognized as International Assistance Dog Week. The goals of International Assistance Dog Week is to recognize the jobs these dogs do, raise awareness of their importance and honor the human trainers that make assistance dog’s so successful.

The three main types of assistance dogs are guide dogs, hearing dogs and service dogs. Each of the training dogs have graduated from an extensive training program designed to equip the assistance dogs to deal with situations their future owner needs help with. Due to the temperament and the size of the breeds, Golden Retrievers and Labradors are the most commonly trained service dogs. Only the top dogs from a training program are certified to become assistance dogs because the welfare of the owner and public depend on the skill of the dog. Below we have highlighted the tasks of each type of assistance dog:

Guide Dogs
Guide dogs assist blind or visually impaired people. You probably have seen guide dogs helping their humans navigate around town and away from danger. These assistance dogs are known for their intelligence, calm temperament and the ability to block out distractions like cats and other dogs. Guide dogs increase the independence of their humans allowing them to live on their own and complete regular human tasks.

Hearing Dogs
A hearing dog assists people who are deaf or are hard of hearing by alerting them of different sounds they would otherwise be unaware of. Some examples of noises hearing dogs are trained on are sirens, doorbells, smoke alarms, telephones and alarm clocks. Hearing dog’s training can be completed in as little as 3 months for quick learning dogs that are not distracted by the public and are very obedient. The 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act permits hearing dogs, as well as guide and service dogs, entrance anywhere their human is able to go.

Service Dogs
Service dogs are assistance dogs responsible with helping their humans with physical tasks they are unable to complete. A physical or mental disability may limit a person and service dogs are known to help with carrying things, opening doors, turning on lights and help balance while walking. The upfront cost to train a service dog is high but studies have shown that people with service dogs spend considerably less on assistance than they had prior to the dog.

Remember that assistance dogs are doing a job and should be treated like a working animal. Only interact with the dog after the human has given permission to do so. Due to the large upfront training costs of assistance dogs, keeping up with assistance dog care is just as important if not more important than household pets. Pet Health Market has a robust inventory of dog care products including flea and tick prevention products, dog dental care products and joint supplements for older assistance dogs.

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