Every service dog has a vital role in the life of their handler. These amazing dogs assist people who have a disability with specific tasks to help improve daily life tasks or simply make them possible, and help their handlers become more independent in their day-to-day life.
These dogs are not only helping their handlers physically, but they are also helping them mentally and emotionally, giving the handler confidence and reassurance that they are independent. Having to do daily tasks with a disability can be very difficult and emotional, so having a canine partner to help get you through it makes life a lot easier.
Mobility and stability service dogs provide help for individuals who have difficulties with movement in their day-to-day lives. They can be trained to perform a number of tasks which not only improve the physical capabilities of the handler, but also increases their independence and confidence.
Which tasks can mobility and stability service dogs perform?
Mobility service dogs can do anything from helping someone in a wheelchair to helping someone with a crutch or walker.
Stability dogs are usually trained to be a brace for their handler when they need help staying balanced or need help getting up.
More tasks that these dogs can be trained to do include:
- Turning on and off light switches
- Carrying shopping bags
- Pushing buttons
- Opening doors and cabinets
- Retrieving dropped items
- Retrieving a ringing phone
- Retrieving a medicine bag
This list is not exhaustive – there are many other tasks that these amazing dogs can be taught to perform!
All of these tasks help the handler feel much more confident in going out and doing more on their own with a little help from their best friend. They can even learn how to pull up the covers for their handler in bed!
Typically, mobility and stability service dogs are medium to large sized dogs. For example, it wouldn’t be too easy for a Chihuahua to heel alongside a wheelchair or open doors! Labrador Retrievers and Golden Retrievers are usually used because they are usually tall enough and heavy enough to handle the tasks.
These service dogs serve a big purpose in their handler’s life, whether it’s out in public or just at home.
What are the differences between mobility dogs and stability dogs?
Although mobility and stability dogs have a lot in common, there are some differences.
Stability service dogs are often paired with individuals with strength or balance issues. They usually wear a large harness with a handle on their back so the handler can hold onto the harness if they need help staying balanced or to hold onto if they need assistance getting up. Stability dogs may also be matched with a handler with a walker.
Another common difference between mobility and stability dogs is that stability dogs do not sit when they are in the heel command because they need to be standing next to their handler, ready to be a brace. Stability service dogs are trained to lean up against their handler when they are in the heel command to add even more support for their handler. These dogs need to be able to take on the pressure of the handler using them as their support.
Mobility dogs are usually matched with a handler in a wheelchair, a scooter or someone who uses a walker, where they help with opening doors or cabinets and holding or picking up items along the way.
Mobility and stability dogs usually have similar tasks for their handlers, but everything is situational and dependent on the handler’s needs. Specialized training based on the handler’s needs is the basis of all service dogs. Your mobility service dog’s tasks may not be the same as someone else’s mobility service dog’s tasks.
Most importantly, mobility and stability service dogs are an incredible way to help people not only gain independence – they can also gain a best friend!