The 10 Types of Service Dogs and What They Do

For many people, a dog is a loyal pet that they keep for companionship. However, throughout history, dogs have taken on a variety of working roles. Some breeds have specific skill and personality traits that make them ideal for supporting the work of humans in different fields. Some breeds are better suited to certain roles than others. One role that dogs may undertake is supporting people with some form of disability. Here are just ten types of service dogs and what they do.

Guide Dogs

Guide dogs are the most common of the service dog and they are used to assist people who are blind or visually impaired in various of aspects of their day-to-day life. These are often Labradors or Golden Retrievers, although other breeds are sometimes used. Dogs have undertaken this role since Roman times.

Mobility Assistance Dogs

Dos that work in mobility assistance provide a variety of services, depending on the needs of their owners. Some can put wheelchairs up ramps, while others bring objects to their owners or press buttons for access. The purpose of having a mobility assistance dog is to give people with mobility issues increased confidence and independence. The breed of dog used depends on the needs and size of the owner.

Hearing Dogs

A hearing dog is used by people with a hearing impairment so that it can alert them to noises, such as doorbells, a crying baby or an alarm. They alert their owner by touching them and then lead them to the noise. Like guide dogs, Labradors and Golden Retrievers are often used for these roles. However, other breeds that work as hearing dogs include Miniature Poodles and Cocker Spaniels.

Seizure Alert Dogs

The use of seizure alert dogs has caused a lot of controversy as some experts say there is no way a dog can predict when a seizure will happen. However, many people who experience seizures argue that their seizure alert dog accurately predicts when a seizure will occur. This allows them to get into a safe position for the seizure. For example, if the person is aware they are about to suffer a seizure, they can move away from a staircase, out down a hot pan, or make sure they are not next to an open fire.

Seizure Response Dogs

Seizure response dogs differ to seizure alert dogs as they cannot predict when a seizure will occur. Instead, they are trained to get help for a person while they are having a seizure. This may include barking for help or setting off an alarm system that lets the emergency services know that the person is experiencing a seizure. They can also help their owner get into a better position and bring them their medicine or a phone.

Diabetic Alert Dogs

Dogs that are known to have a good scent are used as diabetic alert dogs. Known as DADs, these dogs are used by people with diabetes to alert them to changes in their blood sugar level. They use their scent to pick up signs that a person’s blood sugar level is too high or too low. They then alert their owner so that they can take the necessary action to avoid illness.

Psychiatric Service Dogs

These dogs are used to support people who are suffering from a wide range of mental health issues, including stress, anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Not only are they fantastic companions that can combat loneliness, they are also a good way of focusing the person’s attention on caring for their dog and this can, in turn, make them take better care of themselves. When out in public, the dog can give their handler more personal space by providing a barrier and this is fantastic for those who suffer from anxiety in public spaces.

FASD Service Dogs

Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders, or FASDs, mean that a child who was exposed to alcohol prenatally may suffer from both mental and physical difficulties along with learning disabilities and behavioral problems. They provide support to a child in new and unfamiliar social settings and can also interrupt repetitive behavior.

Allergy Detection Dogs

People who suffer from allergies often find it difficult when eating out as they are unsure of whether the food contains potential allergens. Even eating at home can become a minefield. Allergy detection dogs are trained to sniff out specific foods that their owner is allergic to so that they can forewarn them and prevent them from suffering from a reaction.

Autism Support Dogs

Autism support dogs are often used with children with autism who find coping with new and unfamiliar situations difficult. The dog provides a sense of familiarity that helps them to cope better in these situations. It can also act as an icebreaker in new social situations and give the child greater confidence.


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