Every day, mobility assistance dogs provide life-changing aid to individuals who use a wheelchair or have other mobility challenges.
These dogs can provide highly specialized support and ensure prevention of injuries to people of various ages with daily mobility struggles. Individuals with spinal cord or brain injuries, brittle bone disease, or arthritis are just a few examples of people that may be able to receive support from mobility assistance dogs.
Keep reading to learn about the ways mobility assistance dogs can help their handler, unleash possibilities, and provide safety and independence for a client!
An individual with mobility struggles may be limited in their ability to freely get up and move around to get needed items. A mobility assistance dog is trained to go retrieve various items when asked—such as a cell phone, car keys, their own leash, and more!
It may also be difficult for individuals with mobility issues to bend down to pick up items that have been dropped. Instead of relying on another person to help or risking their safety by bending down themselves, clients can rely on their mobility assistance dog to pick up items for them and place them in their hands or lap.
Mobility assistance dogs are very important in helping their handlers with getting up from the floor, couch, or bed. These service dogs are trained to hold positions and be a solid foundation for the client to use as an aid to stand or sit up. This task is essential in providing the handler with freedom and independence while eliminating the need to rely on another person in order to move around.
Another important benefit of working with a mobility assistance dog is their ability to ensure the safety of a handler when walking. Handlers with mobility struggles are likely to be unsteady when walking or even be at risk for falling. This risk is increased when navigating uneven surfaces or stairs.
Mobility assistance dogs wear a special harness with a sturdy handle extending from the top so that the handler may hold on to the dog as they walk together. While the team walks, the dog counterbalances in order to keep the handler steady and balanced on all surfaces.
There may be emergency situations where a mobility dog cannot assist their client in the way that a human can. For example, if the wheels of a wheelchair become stuck or a client falls and is injured, a mobility assistance dog can be trained to find help. The dog is trained to look for another person and lead them to the client so that they may assist with medical attention or other needs.
In addition to aiding in bracing or walking, mobility assistance dogs are trained to assist in many other tasks to help their handler. The dog can be trained to perform actions like putting laundry into a laundry basket, carrying small items, helping with dressing, and more.
If the handler has limited mobility of their hands, a mobility dog can also assist in pushing elevator or automatic door buttons, turning light switches on or off, and opening/closing doors and cabinets.
These are just a few of the many ways mobility assistance dogs are able to help and change the lives of those living with mobility challenges. While these tasks may seem simple, they are crucial in helping handlers overcome mobility challenges, gain independence, and find hope.
ICAN trains and places assistance dogs with individuals in Indiana who have disabilities and provides foundational life skills to inmates through their experience as trainers. To learn more, visit our website and follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube.