Dogs That Serve

Alais Alzaga, Media Arts Editor

Nikita on a walk

Service dogs. What is it like to train a service dog? What is the process? What are service dogs used for?

Service dogs can be trained and used for many purposes. This can include, anxiety, PTSD, autism, diabetes, sight dogs, and other impairments or psychological disorders.

It is important to have the right dog. Now you don’t need a pure breed dog, a mutt with the right personality will work just as good as a purebred dog. But, here are some of the best dog breeds for different services: Labrador retriever, golden retriever, German shepherd, poodles, and boxers. The dog must have a good temperament and in some cases even need to be a certain size and weight to perform specific tasks.

Service dogs can be used for many different tasks such as opening doors, holding objects like purses, alert someone if their blood sugar is too low, alert for oncoming seizures, guide someone with a sight impairment, and hand notes in case of an autistic meltdown, and so much more. For more impressive examples click the link here.

As my dog is in the process of being trained, here is some insight into what it is like and what some of my experiences were. We first started training my dog Nikita when she was just a puppy, she was chosen specifically by the trainer, who truly understands dog behavior and could pick out the right dog. The process of training a service dog involves a lot of paperwork, time, energy, and money. Managing my time between training my dog is hard – between sports, AP classes, and volunteering, I found myself struggling, although, quarantine has really given me some time to work with her. Some of the things I work on with her are not taking food from strangers, not eating things on the ground, deep pressure therapy, and staying away from other dogs. Even though it is a lot of hard work, it is quite rewarding, training at new places for her like hockey games, and being able to ease my anxiety when I go out around town. I would love to take her to school with me, but unfortunately, it wouldn’t work out with my extracurricular activities. I plan on taking her with me to college as when I’m 18 I will hopefully complete my training with her.

Service dogs come in all shapes and sizes, but all of them are equally important. They selflessly support their owners and help aid them through life.