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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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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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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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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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Discussion Starter #5
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.

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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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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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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Discussion Starter #8
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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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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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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We don't have a SD either, but my young, adult daughter sometimes has balance issues, and she has taught our dog to stand if she needs help getting up off the ground.

I really like the image that Xeph posted of the harness on her dog. I don't know why I never thought of that before, something like that could come in handy. And thanks for the advice about not putting your hand on a dog's back.

The man down the street from me has a true seeing eye dog. He is on his 2nd GSD, he is able to walk all over town.
 

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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!

a lot of it was step by step training and simulation like situations where he would have a good day and pretend he couldn't get up. Backchaining helped a great deal too. Gracie is so darn smart she picked it up almost instantly. She naturally alerts when his blood sugar dropped so they took advantage of that.
 

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Video of tasks and public access test for hearing impaired can be found here.

Saint Francis German Shepherd Service Dogs



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That's great! I'm hearing impaired, but I can hear ok with hearing aids. None of mine are trained to help me out, but they still do. Mostly simple things like someone's at the door, they'll come and look at me with a bit of excitement and I'll know to check. If one of my kids is up at night, Tuke will jump on the bed and push her head/ muzzle into me. She's done the same when our new pup needed a potty break in the middle of the night.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
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.
Wow! That's another cool one! I would have never thought about that.
 

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. She naturally alerts when his blood sugar dropped so they took advantage of that.
Finn does that as well for my Husband, but he wasn't trained to do it. He also helped as a counter balance after I hurt my back before my surgery. It was nice having that extra bit of support going up and down the steps. He would also pick up stuff off the floor. He's not a SD by any means, but it worked.

It's cool to see all the different types of SDs out there. A friend of mine has a Lab to help with balance issues, helps her up if she falls, and brings her the cell phone if she can't get up. He also does a list of other things, but those are the only ones I can remember at the moment. She wouldn't be able to leave her house without mind numbing fear if it weren't for that dog.
 

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Finn does that as well for my Husband, but he wasn't trained to do it. He also helped as a counter balance after I hurt my back before my surgery. It was nice having that extra bit of support going up and down the steps. He would also pick up stuff off the floor. He's not a SD by any means, but it worked.

It's cool to see all the different types of SDs out there. A friend of mine has a Lab to help with balance issues, helps her up if she falls, and brings her the cell phone if she can't get up. He also does a list of other things, but those are the only ones I can remember at the moment. She wouldn't be able to leave her house without mind numbing fear if it weren't for that dog.

I think my grandma's corgi would alert to her low blood sugar if my grandma would pay a bit more attention to her signals. Perhaps I should mention this to my grandma next time I'm back home....
 

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I haven't read the replies yet and so will come back to read them as well as explain more about what Tessa does for me, but here's a short reply...

As far as helping stand and take weight, the dog can help a person get up in a couple different ways. As for taking weight it depends on a bunch of things. One is that like many other things the dog shouldn't begin training to brace or take weight until they're 2 years old and have had the appropriate elbow and hip xrays to determine health. A service dog is NOT a replacement for a cane, crutch, walker, or other weightbearing device. They cannot take the weight of an individual every step. Temporary bracing when the weight is placed on the correct spot, the shoulders and not the spine, is fine. When being used for balance its better to use the dog as counterbalance.

To assist someone to get up, the dog can also pull an individual up to assist in standing from either the floor or a seated position. I might have some photos of from training Tessa on this, I'll take a look. And they can also brace in a standing position to allow the individual to push off of the shoulders to assist in standing. It depends on how much assistance an individual needs, how often its being done, etc.

Tessa assists me in getting up both from issues with my joints as well as issues that I have from my heart that causes changes in position to make my heart race and cause dizziness and lighteheadedness. So she also provides a stable brace to help as I steady myself in getting up. I tend to fall frequently from issues in balance as well as joints giving out, and Tessa can either brace and be used to help steady myself to prevent a fall, as well as assist me in getting to the ground in a less damaging way, and then back up once I'm ready.

She can get the lights for me, so that I do not have to get up myself and my balance is also much worse in the dark. My disability gives me a limited amount of physical strength and endurance, how I use that is up to me. Once its out though its out, so even little things like getting up to flip the light switch because the sun is going down means using up some of that limited ability plus the postural changes quickly zap my energy.

I've been using a wheelchair most of the time for the last year and I've realized just how much the constant standing was draining my energy. Since I cannot maintain standing for very long I have to sit, but that means more frequent ups and downs which are difficult. When standing she can hand me an item so I do not bend over to get it assists with the joint issues of bending over, the postural change of bending over, the energy lost in the act... I also personally drop things a LOT due to nerve damage in my arms that affects my hands. Many service dog tasks may be "little" things, but these little things performed over and over during the day use up a lot of the limited ability for someone who is disabled, and together can mean the difference between bigger things such as the ability to cook yourself dinner, take a shower today, or even bigger such as make it out of the house for an appointment or errand.
 

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Well said Lin. There were some days I would not leave the house before Fiona. I live on the second floor (bought my condo before I got hurt and diagnosed). Some days going up and down the step takes whatever drive / energy I had away. So I save my energy & strength so I can work (super easy job, just requires my brain). But even the insurance company is thinking that me not working anymore is in the future. I just hope it is far, far away.


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