Service dog training and placement is an industry that involves a wide variety of terminology that can be confusing! Keep reading to learn some common service dog terms to know.
ADI: Assistance Dogs International (ADI), is a global coalition and leading authority of non-profit organizations dedicated to the highest standards of training and placing service dogs. ICAN is the only ADI-accredited service dog organization in Indiana.
ADA: The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) provides individuals living with disabilities protection from discrimination as well as improvements in accessibility. The law created the guidelines that provide service dog teams access in public establishments.
ABC Breeding Cooperative: As an ADI-accredited service dog organization, ICAN is a member of the ABC Breeding Cooperative. This program ensures that accredited organizations have access to a diverse gene pool and the breeding of healthy puppies.
Service Dog: A service dog is a type of assistance animal that is specially trained to perform tasks that mitigate a person’s disability. There are many different types of assistance animals, but ICAN trains service dogs for mobility assistance, veteran assistance, diabetic alert, facility work, as well as in-home skilled companions. Service dogs are different from therapy or emotional support animals as they are trained to do specific tasks to aid a person with a disability.
Therapy Dog: Therapy dogs are trained to provide comfort and joy in settings such as schools, nursing homes, or disaster areas. While these dogs must have basic obedience training and a calm demeanor, they are not the same as service dogs. Therapy dogs provide comfort to many different individuals, but are not trained to mitigate any disabilities.
Emotional Support Animal: An emotional support animal (ESA) is any animal that is prescribed by a medical professional to lessen symptoms in a person with a mental illness such as anxiety, depression, or a phobia. Unlike service dogs, ESAs are not required to undergo any training.
Career Change/Release Dog: In order to be paired with an individual with a disability, a service dog must have the right temperament and be in perfect health. These standards are extremely high, and not all dogs will ultimately meet these standards. Dogs that don’t meet these standards are often still very well-trained and may change careers to do things like work as an electronic detection dog, become a therapy dog, or be released to become a well-loved pet.
Cue: A cue is a signal to a dog to do a specific behavior. The word “cue” is a request rather than a demand—implying that the dog has a choice to do the behavior and will be rewarded if done correctly. A cue may be verbal such as “stay” or “shake,” a hand signal, or something in the environment such as a client doing repetitive behaviors or emitting an odor of low blood sugar.
Task: A task is a specific behavior that service dogs are specially trained to do to mitigate their partner’s disability once given a cue. Examples of tasks that ICAN dogs are trained to do may include retrieving or carrying items, opening and closing doors, or interrupting nightmares.
LIMA: “Least Intrusive, Minimally Aversive”(LIMA) is a training principle used by all accredited service dog organizations, including ICAN. LIMA is a framework that dog trainers use to understand each specific dog and the undesirable behavior in question in order to provide training methods that will be the least stressful to the dog.
Handler: For ICAN specifically, the handler typically refers to the incarcerated individual who observes and assesses the dog’s behavioral needs and implements a training program. The inmate handler is also responsible for feeding, grooming and bathing, providing medical attention, and playing with the dog. Once the dog has graduated and been paired with an individual with a disability, that person may then also be referred to as the handler.
Client: A client is the person who receives an ICAN service dog to either mitigate a disability or is responsible for the dog in facility settings such as schools, nursing homes, rehabilitation centers, or courtrooms.
Volunteer: ICAN is a not-for-profit organization that relies on volunteers to raise puppies and provide real-world experience to our service dogs throughout their training. ICAN volunteers may host litters, teach puppies cues and manners, take dogs in-training into public, help with outreach and special events, and more!
These are just a few of the many different service dog terms to know, but they are important in beginning to learn and understand ICAN and the service-dog industry as a whole!
Looking for more service dog education, uplifting stories, and more? Visit our blog!
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.