Service dogs - how do they physically help you? - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 32 (permalink) Old 04-25-2013, 11:20 AM Thread Starter
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Service dogs - how do they physically help you?

As someone who doesn't have a disability requiring a service dog, I am quite ignorant in the ways that a service dog can physically help a disabled person. I'm not sure if it's too personal to ask this (I wouldn't think so, but who knows...) but I was wondering if some can share some cool tasks SDs help you do.

For example, I think I've heard that these dogs can help a person stand if they've fallen down. I wonder- can you really place all your weight on the dog's back? How does that work? Logistically, I could see a BIG dog like a Newfie being able to take a person's weight, but never would have thought a smaller dog like a GSD or Lab would be able to. Fascinating.

I suspect that there are some REALLY awesome things these dogs can do for you that I'd have never even thought of.

The intent of this thread is to enjoy the amazing abilities the dogs can be trained in, especially as they relate to helping those who need physical assistance. I think it's absolutely fascinating! In no way am I making any statement about the disability or the person with the disability. I understand this might be a sensitive topic be it that I'm asking about physical impairments. So to be clear, once again- I'm asking about the amazing capabilities of the dogs- and nothing more.

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post #2 of 32 (permalink) Old 04-25-2013, 11:28 AM
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I know 1 dog that yelps when the owners blood sugar drops dangerously low. I know another dog that reminds his owner to take medicine everyday at the same time. I know how this dog was conditioned to do this task everyday, really cool!

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post #3 of 32 (permalink) Old 04-25-2013, 01:02 PM
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If you're interested this site has some info on service dog tasks:
Assistance Dog Tasks

You can find more if you search for the type of service/disability and "tasks" on google. For example "diabetic service dog tasks" or "balance service dog tasks" etc...


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post #4 of 32 (permalink) Old 04-25-2013, 01:27 PM
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Service dog tasks

I have no problem disclosing what Fiona does for me.

First, she alerts to my pain. She alerts at the beginning so I can get my meds started. She also provides pain relief when it is too soon to take meds.

Second, she helps me get up when my knees are higher than my bottom (when I sit on something too low). I can grab the traffic portion of her leash and tell her to go, she can and has pulled me up.

Third, she can help me up when I fall. I put her in a sit and then place my hands at her shoulders then tell her to stand. (We are not there yet with this training)

Fourth, she can bring me my cell phone when I fall and I need the ambulance or a person's help (We are working on this one as well)

Fifth, she can pull my cart. I have a cart at work, because I cannot carry anything. She pulls the shopping cart as well.

Finally, I suffer from dizzy spells. She stabilizes me when I cannot tell up from down. She leans against me and can tell when they are coming.

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post #5 of 32 (permalink) Old 04-25-2013, 02:06 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Cheyanna View Post
Second, she helps me get up when my knees are higher than my bottom (when I sit on something too low). I can grab the traffic portion of her leash and tell her to go, she can and has pulled me up.
This- using the harness in kind of a tug-o-war kind of way- I figured. That makes a lot of sense to me.

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Originally Posted by Cheyanna View Post
Third, she can help me up when I fall. I put her in a sit and then place my hands at her shoulders then tell her to stand. (We are not there yet with this training)
But this... this is really cool! I'm not sure I totally get the mental picture, but I think I see it enough to assume her rear is doing a lot of work here while her front stabilizes. So do you have to work a lot of core drills to ensure she's well muscled throughout her loin?

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post #6 of 32 (permalink) Old 04-25-2013, 03:06 PM
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I don't have a SD but my uncle's border collie acts as one, though she's not an active SD. She's trained to pick things up for him because bending to get them off the floor is too much for his back. She's trained to find his glasses (usually in their case) when he cant remember where they were put. She helps pull him to his feet if he's been sitting for a while and needs assistance getting up. She alerts when he his blood sugar drops. She brings his cell to him if he needs it. She's also been trained to go to the neighbors house for help if he falls and she cant help him up or his blood sugar drops too far and my aunt isn't home. She does several other tasks as well but I'm not entirely sure what they are. The ones listed are the ones I've witnessed or been told about by my aunt. Only reason she's not an active SD he can take anywhere is because she's not always the best in new situations though she's been very well socialized and she's friendly. She gets a little too excited sometimes.

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post #7 of 32 (permalink) Old 04-25-2013, 04:57 PM
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Moo keeps me from falling over by doing counter balance work. He puts his weight into his harness and applies steady pressure while we're walking to keep me upright. If I do fall, I fall forwards or straight down, and he helps me get up.

I do not put my hand on his back. That's dangerous to the dog. I place my hand on his wither and he braces for me.

Strauss is a large dog for a GSD at 27". Perfect for this kind of work.

My new dog is just 25". Luckily, I need more counterbalance than brace work, and he is certainly capable of doing it, even though he weighs 30 pounds less than Moo does.




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post #8 of 32 (permalink) Old 04-25-2013, 05:18 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by KZoppa View Post
She's also been trained to go to the neighbors house for help if he falls and she cant help him up or his blood sugar drops too far and my aunt isn't home.
That is so freakin' cool!! I'm not even sure how I'd approach training something like that. This is exactly why I started this thread. That's badass right there... The dog is making so many decisions! Awesome!

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post #9 of 32 (permalink) Old 04-25-2013, 05:19 PM Thread Starter
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I do not put my hand on his back. That's dangerous to the dog. I place my hand on his wither and he braces for me.
Thanks for sharing! I don't know why but I never thought to check youtube for videos. I did see exactly what you mean about putting weight on the withers rather than back. That makes a ton of sense

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post #10 of 32 (permalink) Old 04-25-2013, 06:16 PM
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Jag is not a public access dog, however he helps me out at home a lot. I have a bad back from a fall down my basement stairs, so often bending for things on the floor is painful. Jag will pick up just about anything -- he helps with the laundry, off with my coat, and carries his training bad into class. He will help me balance going up stairs by putting his head under my hand. He helps me out of a chair (I put my hand in his collar and ask him to back up, then pull myself up.

His sire, Tag, even helped me dress after I had surgery a few years ago. I would put my pants on the floor and put my feet in them. Tag would then hand me the waistband.
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