Assistance Dogs

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Lets just start with the simple definition for Assistance Dogs:

Assistance Dogs: An assistance dog is a dog trained to aid or assist a person with a disability. Many are trained by a specific organization, while others are trained by their handler (sometimes with the help of a professional trainer).

Most people are confused by the terminology as it applies to assistance dogs, but just to clarify – Assistance Dog is the broader term that embodies the more specific classifications of Assistance Dogs.  Most of you have probably heard the term “Assistance Dog”, but it’s not the common word used when one thinks of these kinds of dogs.  More common terms might be “Guide Dog”, “Service Dog”, and “Seeing-Eye Dog”.  Lets take a look at the classifications of Assistance Dogs.

Classification of Assistance Dogs

There are 3 general types of Assistance Dogs:

  • Service Dogs – refers to dogs not specifically trained for visual or hearing impairment, but trained to do other work, such as mobility assistance dogs, seizure alert dogs or other medical alert dogs, and psychiatric service dogs. In the United States, the term “service dog” may be used synonymously with “assistance dog,” and is occasionally used for other types of working dogs as well. These dogs can in some instances be dual classified as Therapy Dogs. Also any of the above named dogs “in training” are protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) and Americans with Disabilities Amendment Act (ADAA, which expanded some legal protections), even if the handler at the time is not “using” the dog in the capacity for which it is being trained. In most of the rest of the world a distinct separation between service dogs and assistance dogs is observed.
  • Guide Dogs – assist the blind and visually impaired.
  • Hearing Dogs/Signal Dogs – assist the deaf and hard of hearing.

Now that we know the different classifications of Assistance Dogs what are the origins of the term Seeing Eye Dog?

The Seeing Eye is the oldest guide dog school in the world located in Morristown, New Jersey.  Probably because it’s the oldest guide dog organization the term Seeing Eye Dog has become synonymous with the term Guide Dog.  However, technically this is not correct.  A Seeing Eye Dog is a guide dog that has graduated from the Seeing Eye.  Technically a guide dog that graduated from any other school (besides The Seeing Eye) would not be a Seeing Eye Dog.

A few other examples of organizations or brands that have become almost synonymous with the general product:

  • Kleenex – Kleenex is a brand of tissue.  If you make tissues, but you are not Kleenex then you technically are not Kleenex
  • Xerox – This term is a bit dated now, but if you Xerox something you’re technically making a copy.

So what’s the significance of our site name Puppy In Training?  Every assistance dog has a beginning and that beginning starts with us, the puppy raisers (actually the puppy does have 7 weeks before us where he is in a nursery learning a thing or two from mom and siblings).  Our special puppy is called a “Puppy In Training” and lives with us from 7 weeks until the puppy is approximately 18 months of age where he learns basic obedience, good house manners, and socialization.  At 18 months our puppy heads back to school where he starts guide dog college and learns the ropes of becoming a working assistance dog.

Do you have any questions about Assistance Dogs?  If so, please shoot us an email through our contact form.