We have had farm dogs for decades. They alerted us to company or barked if there was something going on, chased off predators and ran and played with the kids.
There is so much to be said for selective breeding. We got guardian dogs to protect our herd of goats, Even as babies they instinctively lay down on their backs in submission to the mama goats, earning their trust. Within just a few days the moms were leaving their babies with the puppies while they went out to eat. These dogs were not herding dogs, they were there to protect the goats from predators like coyotes, and stray dogs. If these dogs sensed danger they would instinctively round up the entire herd and bring them to the barn.
Our Border Collie puppies instinctively run to the cows with an amazing display of teamwork, speed, energy and agility. Darting in and out they bring the herd into a compact group, just waiting for our signal to tell them what to do next.
Our poodle puppies instinctively retrieve and respond to medical and emotional needs. Their intuitive attentive nature is amazing. Their athleticism and enthusiasm is contagious. The fact that they can go from zero to sixty and back to zero makes them incredible service dogs.
It is incredible that God gives us such diversity in one species. There are many things to consider when choosing a dog for service work. Your activity level, space, the type of disability or disabilities your dog will need to assist you with will help narrow down your search.
Temperament: A high energy dog can be a lot of help if you are very active, need assistance pulling a wheelchair, retrieving items. If you live in a small apartment or are looking for an animal to relieve anxiety, you may want a quieter dog.
Size: A small dog might be best for a companion animal in an apartment, or as a medical alert service dog. A larger dog can help with stability, pull a wheelchair, retrieve items, open doors and turn lights on and off.
Intelligence: The ability to learn is not only determined by intelligence. A smart independent dog may learn quickly, but may be easily distracted. A puppy driven to please their handler will actually learn specific lessons more quickly. You want both, intelligence and a willing partner. A not so smart dog with not much drive to please anyone can be a a real challenge.
Breeds: Even though many dogs will be able to assist with the same tasks, you will find physical and mental differences between breed types. These characteristics have been enhanced through selective breeding for centuries. Check out the following link. (intelligence and trainability by breed)
Retrievers of many breeds, including poodles, are commonly used for assisting with physical disabilities and picking up items. They love to please, are ready to help and of course have natural retrieval instincts.
Large mountain dogs are calm and stable, moving slow and steady they are often used for mobility, assisting when their handler falls.
Herding dogs are intelligent, energetic and quick to please. They have a keen sense of order, keeping everything in its place. They make great dogs when they can be kept busy and challenged.
All dogs have a fantastic sense of smell, and are able to pick up on subtle changes in body chemistry. They can alert to seizures, blood sugar changes, hypertension and much more. They however are not all as smart, trainable, sociable or attentive. Bloodhounds for instance are able to pick up scents other dogs miss. Their long floppy ears, loose folds of skin, long noses and close proximity to the ground make them one of the best scent dogs. They may not be able the most trainable in other areas. Want to have some fun - check out this site.
(dog IQ test) http://pets1st.com/articles/00025adoggieiqtest.asp
No matter the breed or type of dog, temperament is critical. Service dogs must be able to work with calm confidence in public settings.
A DOG IS JUST A DOG - OR IS IT?
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