Assistance dog

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An assistance dog pressing a button to open an automatic door.

In general, an assistance dog is trained to aid or assist an individual with a disability. Many are trained by an assistance dog organization, or by their handler, often with the help of a professional trainer.


Assistance dogs fall into two broad categories: service dogs and facility dogs.[1] Service dogs are defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act as dogs that are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities. State and local governments, businesses, and nonprofit organizations that serve the public generally must allow service animals to accompany people with disabilities in all areas of the facility where the public is normally allowed to go.[2] Facility dogs are used by working professionals to aid multiple people.[3] Common examples of service dogs include: • Guide dogs assist the blind and the visually impaired. • Hearing dogs, or signal dogs, help the deaf and hard of hearing. • Mobility assistance dogs • Medical alert dogs • Psychiatric service dogs

Mobility assistance dog helping his handler stand up. Common examples of facility dogs include:[3] • Courthouse facility dogs are typically handled by professionals working in the legal system. They are often used to assist crime victims, witnesses, and others during the investigation and prosecution of crimes as well as other legal proceedings. • Facility dogs in educational settings are usually handled by special education teachers to facilitate interaction with the students. • Facility dogs in healthcare environments are typically handled by physical therapists, psychologists, and other healthcare professionals to facilitate recovery and symptom management for patients. In the United States, the term service dog may be used synonymously with assistance dog.

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