What is an assistance dog and what does this type of dog do for its owner?
An assistance dog can be:
- A Guide Dog that assists a person with visual impairment
- A Service Dog that assists a person with a physical disability
- An Autism Support Dog that assists a child who is on the Autism Spectrum Disorder
S A Guide-Dogs Association for the Blind breeds, trains and provides these special dogs to people who can benefit from their assistance.
A Guide Dog undergoes specific training that enables it to guide a person who is visually impaired . A Guide Dog is taught to ignore distractions whilst guiding its owner from one destination to another. Although a Guide Dog fulfils the role of a long cane, it also provides companionship and helps to break down social barriers. Members from the public are more likely to approach and engage with a person with visual impairment when there is a dog present.
How to recognize a Guide Dog: Guide Dogs are on duty when they are wearing a harness that is fitted with a metal handle. The handle has a sign that says ‘Do not distract’.
A Service Dog’s purpose is to assist a person who is physically disabled. The needs of each Service Dog owner varies. In the final stages of training, the Service Dog will be taught the specific tasks that would be required from its owner. Most Service Dogs are taught the basic tasks required by their role. These include the ability to push, pull and retrieve items that are out of reach to the owner.
How to recognize a Service Dog: Service Dogs wear red jackets with the Guide Dog Association’s logo on it.
An Autism Support Dog provides comfort to children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Children with Autism generally don’t like being restrained. With a dog, the child is less likely to run off. An Autism Support Dog can make a meaningful difference to the quality of life of both the child and primary caregiver. Children with Autism can feel pressured to keep up with the fast paced-world around them. Having an Autism Support Dog lessens the pressure and expectations on the child because of a dog’s ability to accept and love unconditionally. An Autism Support Dog acts as a coping instrument and makes everyday tasks less daunting.
How to recognize an Autism Support dog: Autism Support Dogs wear red jackets with the SA Guide Dog Association’s logo on it.
Working dogs play a vital role in the lives of their owners. They help their owners to cope in social settings and provide unconditional love.
Many people in the world remain oblivious to the existence and purpose of working dogs. Because of this, working dogs and their owners continue to experience accessibility difficulties when visiting different establishments. Not only is this extremely degrading to a working dog owner, it is also illegal in South Africa. To find out more about this topic, you can read our post “Is it Illegal to Deny a Working Dog Access?“.