It’s not news that individuals in wheelchairs commonly use service dogs to help them with everyday tasks, but you may not be aware of just how useful service dogs are for wheelchair handlers. As you’re looking over the service dog registry, USA Service Dog recommends you keep these tasks in mind if you’re someone in a wheelchair in need of a service dog or know of someone in a wheelchair who might find a service dog useful.
Adjusting Handler’s Seating Position
If a handler is unable to righten or straighten him or herself in a wheelchair, a service dog can provide assistance. Trained service dogs have been observed crossing a handler’s ankles, positioning an arm on an armrest and repositioning a wheelchair’s footrests.
Picking Up Items
Picking up dropped items can be especially difficult for those with mobility problems. Dogs listed on the service dog registration are trained to not only pick up dropped items, but to fetch items from other rooms when they’re needed. Such training is useful for individuals who use wheelchairs as well as other mobility tools, such as crutches and canes.
It’s easier for wheelchair handlers to carry groceries and other items around when they have a service dog to assist them. This ability saves a lot of time, and that’s especially true for those in wheelchairs whose hands are full pushing their chairs forward.
Pulling a Wheelchair
Handlers in manual wheelchairs can have their service dogs pull their wheelchair. With that in mind, it’s important to point out that it’s best that a service dog never pulls her or his handler up an incline without additional assistance, mainly because steep hills and inclines may be too difficult for service dogs to handle on their own.
Closing and Opening Doors
While it’s possible to train service dogs to close and open doors, they require the use of what’s known as a tug, which is a length of material tied to the doorknob that the dog can bite onto and pull. What’s great about this particular skill is that service dogs are able to open various types of doors of different sizes, such as closet doors, refrigerator doors and even elevator doors by pressing the button with their paws.
On a related note, service dogs have also shown themselves capable of turning light switches on and off with the careful use of their teeth and paws. They can even operate lamps.
Assisting With Laundry
Service dogs are a great help on laundry day. Not only can they load front-loading washing machines, they can unload them and transfer clothes to a front-loading dryer as well. Once the clothes have finished drying, a service dog can easily unload the clothes from the dryer into a basket, or hand the clothes to a handler. Besides laundry, service dogs are able to retrieve several other clothing items, such as shoes and coats.
Reaching High Countertops
Just as wheelchair-bound individuals may have trouble picking up items from the floor, they can also have problems reaching items on particularly high shelves and counters. Thankfully, large service dogs can stand on their hind legs to retrieve items on high counters, tables, shelves and other surfaces.
Shifting to and from a Wheelchair
Handlers can easily shift from a wheelchair to a bed by using a service dog as a source of stability and support. It’s important to note that service dogs shouldn’t support a person’s full weight, as doing so can be too physically demanding.
Now that you have a better idea of how service dogs can aid those in wheelchairs, you can better narrow your options as you’re reviewing the US service dog registry. With a bit of time and additional training, a service dog can become both friend and personal assistant.