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Monday, 27 June 2011

Assistance dogs

There are several organisations that train and provide assistance dogs for disabled people. Some dogs are trained specifically to help with certain tasks.

About assistance dogs

Assistance dogs are not suitable for everyone. Whether an assistance dog would be suitable for you must be decided taking your individual circumstances into account.

Assistance dogs need to be looked after, groomed, fed, exercised and taken to the vet just like any other dog.

For many people however, assistance dogs have brought a great deal of independence and confidence as well as companionship into their lives.

Dogs for blind or visually impaired people

The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association provides training and support for people with serious sight loss who would like to have a guide dog.

To become a guide dog owner, you must be resident in the UK and have a significant visual loss. This may be combined with other disabilities. You must also be able to use and care for the dog.

Dogs for deaf or hearing impaired people

Hearing Dogs for Deaf People train dogs to alert deaf people to sounds they cannot hear. This can include alarm clocks, babies crying, smoke alarms and many others.

To become a hearing dog owner, you must be severely hard of hearing or profoundly deaf and be over 18 years old. You must also be able to care for the dog.

Other assistance dogs

Some charities train dogs to assist and support disabled owners with a particular disability.

Disability assistance dogs can be trained to do many things. Examples include

  • fetching items
  • operating control buttons
  • switching lights on and off
  • opening and closing doors
  • loading and unloading the washing machine
  • helping with shopping
  • assisting with dressing and undressing
  • summoning help if necessary

Dogs can also be trained in other ways, for example, to alert owners of an imminent epileptic seizure.

Autism assistance dogs

Autism assistance dogs can be partnered with autistic children and their families.

An autism assistance dog acts as a guide, anchor and continuous focus for the child. This can have a very reassuring and calming effect, enabling autistic children to better make sense of and interact with the world around them.

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