Most popular assistance dog breeds and how they help people with disability - Hindustan Times
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Most popular assistance dog breeds and how they help people with disability

Aug 06, 2023 08:57 PM IST

A properly trained dog known as an assistance dog helps people with impairments and gives them more independence, comfort, and security.

Dogs with their selfless love and unflinching loyalty are indeed man's best friend. They help enhance several aspects of our well-being and are a joy to be with. Did you know there are certain dogs that are trained to help people deal with their disability and lead a better life. They are called assistance dogs or service dogs and are given intense training to hone their skill of helping people so that they can be a blessing for people who can't operate on their own and need a bit of guidance. There are different types of assistance dogs. Some may assist people with visual impairment, others could help one deal with autism or epilepsy, or mobility issues. Then there are psychiatric service dogs who may alert others when their owners are indulging in any kind of self-harming behaviour or destructive tendencies. (Also read: How to prep your pet for a monsoon trip; 6 tips and tricks)

 To execute particular duties that their human counterparts would find difficult due to their physical, neurological, or psychological impairments, these canines go through intense training(Freepik)
To execute particular duties that their human counterparts would find difficult due to their physical, neurological, or psychological impairments, these canines go through intense training(Freepik)

"A properly trained dog known as an assistance dog helps people with impairments and gives them more independence, comfort, and security. To execute particular duties that their human counterparts would find difficult due to their physical, neurological, or psychological impairments, these canines go through intense training," says Dr. Sanjiv Rajadhyaksha, Medical Director at Wiggles MyVet.

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Dr Rajadhyaksha says assistance dogs can be divided into several categories, each with a specific function:

Guide dogs: These canines are trained to guide visually impaired or blind people, assisting them in securely navigating their surroundings. Hearing dogs help those who have hearing loss by alerting them to important noises like doorbells, alarms, or a screaming baby.

Service dogs: These canines help people who have disabilities other than vision or hearing, such as autism, epilepsy, or mobility issues. Service dogs can be trained to do anything from retrieve dropped objects to open doors, help balance, and even warn of impending seizures.

Psychiatric service dogs: Service dogs for those with mental illnesses like PTSD, anxiety, and depression are known as psychiatric service dogs. They may intervene in self-destructive behaviors, offer tactile stimulation to ease misery, or even remind their handler to take their medication.

Best assistance dog breeds

"Assistance dogs provide a crucial function and greatly enhance the quality of life for their owners. However, not all dog breeds make good assistance dogs. Intelligent, trainable, temperamental, and physically strong traits are present in the most popular assistance dog breeds," says Rajadhyaksha.

The following are some of the most popular breeds:

The Labrador Retriever is a well-liked breed for all kinds of assistance dogs because of their intelligence, adaptability, and kind disposition. They are eager to please and very trainable.

Golden Retrievers are renowned for their intellect, tolerance, and flexibility, just like Labradors. They naturally have a retrieving tendency, which is advantageous for service dog activities.

German Shepherds because of their intelligence, trainability, and protective attitude. German Shepherds are frequently used as guiding dogs. They have a strong sense of direction and are agile and tough.

Poodles because of their high intelligence and hypoallergenic coats make for good assistance dogs. Poodles—including Standard, Miniature, and Toy varieties—are utilized as support dogs. They are useful for many types of help duties because of their range of sizes.

Border Collies are one of the most intellectual canine breeds, Border Collies are known for their quick learning abilities and versatility in a variety of settings, including as psychiatric service dogs.

"Although these breeds are widespread, keep in mind that the best assistance dog depends on the handler's unique demands as well as the temperament of the dog. The special relationship that develops between a person and their assistance dog is what makes these canine friends so crucial," concludes Dr Rajadhyaksha.

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