Service dog

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A service dog is a type of assistance dog, specifically trained to help people who have disabilities including visual or hearing impairment. Desirable character traits include good temperament or psychological make-up, good health including physical structure, biddability and trainability. Service dogs are sometimes trained and bred by service dog organizations. Some dogs are donated by private breeders, and some are selected from shelters. Any breed or mixture of breeds of dog might produce a representative capable of service work, though few dogs have all of the qualities in health, temperament, biddability, trainability and physical ability needed. Such a dog may be called a "service dog" or an "assistance dog," depending largely on country. Other common names include "helper dog," "aide dog," and "support dog."

In the United States, the Code of Federal Regulations for the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 define a service animal as "any guide dog, signal dog, or other animal individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including, but not limited to, guiding individuals with impaired vision, alerting individuals with impaired hearing to intruders or sounds, providing minimal protection or rescue work, pulling a wheelchair, or fetching dropped items." [1]


Service dog etiquette

Most owners expect their service dogs to be treated as a working animal while in public. The health and safety of their owner may depend on the dog's ability to focus and resist distraction. Many service dogs are trained to avoid distraction when wearing their gear, but relax and are friendly when the gear is removed. An owner will expect to be asked for permission before another individual interacts with the dog. [2]


Puppy training

Service dog puppies are often fostered by their programs to private families to be reared until they are old enough for advanced training. During this time, the puppies are socialized through extensive interactions with people of all kinds (with variations in age, gender, ethnicity, mode of dress, disability, etc.) as well as with other common domestic animals, especially other dogs. Puppies are also habituated by their foster families so that they become comfortable in a wide variety of situations.[3] The foster families, called puppy raisers or puppy walkers, take responsibility for teaching the pup basic life skills common to any well behaved dog including basic obedience and manners, including toilet training, not begging or jumping up on people, waiting at doors, riding in cars, coming when called, sit, down, stay and walking politely on a leash.

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