What You Should Know About Partnering Up With a Service Dog
Dogs, in general, can make life more wonderful. They often spice up your daily routine with equal measures of love, antics, and mischief. For some people, though, dogs can actually improve quality of life.
These pups, of course, are known as service dogs. More and more people are becoming aware of these pooches as they offer up such a wide range of aid. While they are most commonly used as guide dogs for people with sight and mobility issues, they are just as helpful for individuals with mental health problems as well.
Thus, if you have been “prescribed” a service dog, you certainly aren't alone. At the same time, this isn't something that you should take lightly either. While a service pup can make a positive impact on your life, they are also a responsibility.
So, on this note, here is everything you need to know about being partnered up with a service animal:
Service Dogs Require Constant Discipline
In certain ways, you will interact with your service dog the same way that you will with any other pet. Except, a service animal isn't a pet. They have been trained to perform specific tasks or skills. Thus, they always need to be vigilant and focused, especially when you are in public.
This means that a service dog requires an owner who is assertive and able to maintain a certain level of (gentle) discipline. This means that you can't really break rules with them or you just may end up confusing them.
Not to mention, you will be expected to stay on top of their training. This is especially true if your pup needs to learn new skills or simply stay on point. Either way, you have to be able to keep your pooch in line at all times.
Service Animals Require Care and Attention
Yes, service dogs are trained to care for you. At the same time, they must be cared for in turn. After all, these pups can't really fend for themselves. So, getting a service pooch means that you will have to handle plenty of daily tasks.
As such, you will need to feed them at least twice a day. You must also ensure that they get to go outside to relieve themselves, get fresh air, and exercise as well. Last but certainly not least, your dog needs love and attention to boot.
Now, those are just the things you have to every day. Every now and then, you will also have to undertake grooming or pay someone else to do it. You must also stay up-to-date on vet visits, vaccinations, and anything else health-related.
Sure, this can seem like a rather large list of things to accomplish. However, your service dog will more than make up for it with the skills and love that they will bring into your life.
Service Dogs Require Preparation
It has been established that service dogs require a certain level of care. This also means that you have to be more prepared than you have in the past. Keep in mind, when you are heading out, it is no longer as simple as putting on a coat and shoes and going out the door.
No, you have to be certain that you have all your pup's necessary items. Naturally, this would mean their leash, vest, and anything else they might need to guide you. At the same time, you are going to need to carry water (and a container), dog snacks, waste bags, and anything else that your pup may require.
Furthermore, you have to plan out your destinations a little better. According to the law, service dogs are allowed in most public and private establishments. Nevertheless, you will have to think about whether your dog can easily maneuver those surroundings as well. You must also consider whether your pup will come comfortable in a particular environment.
You Will Have a Constant Companion
Service dogs have been trained to stay by your side at all times. Many dogs need to be able to detect various symptoms before they fully set in. As such, you will find yourself with a constant companion.
If you are someone who has been prescribed a pup for psychiatric reasons, this can be rather comforting. Nevertheless, it can be overwhelming for some people, especially in the beginning. If you are used to being alone, having a shadow by your side can take some getting used to.
Eventually, you will come to appreciate your pup's continuous presence. Until then, you have to prepare to deal with a furry sidekick at all times.
You Will Draw Attention
There is no denying that people love dogs. So, you can expect to be approached several times a day. This is especially true if you are in place that doesn't typically allow animals. Thus, you will need to be prepared.
You need to warn people ahead of time not to pet your dog as he is a service dog. There's a good chance that you will have to explain some of the other protocols as well. In fact, you may have to be quite firm with complete strangers.
On top of this, many people are going to have questions. They won't just ask about your pup, they may want to know about your condition as well. Therefore, you are going to have to come up with a strategy ahead of time on how to handle all of this.
This is what you need to know about partnering up with a service animal. Sure, it can seem like a lot to take in. Nevertheless, you should be just as aware that this could be one of the best decisions that you ever make. Service dogs don't just improve the quality of your life. They can often give you something to live for as well.
There is also the fact that they will end up being your best friend within a very short period of time. Their intelligence and enormous hearts will see to that. As long as you know what you are in for, getting a service dog can be an amazing experience.