Dogs are beloved pets to millions of families throughout the US, each day earning their “best friend” title.
Growing numbers of those dogs are being given “jobs” in addition to their traditional role.
In many seniors’ homes, specially-trained dogs are being asked to perform a variety of tasks including such things as fetching needed items from the bedroom or kitchen, providing alerts, and helping ensure seniors are able to find their way home.
Those are, of course, in addition to being trusted companions.
These “service dogs” are being increasingly sought by family caregivers who want to address specific concerns with aging in place senior loved ones.
Senior Care Corner® has been receiving a lot of inquiries about service dogs from seniors and family caregivers so decided to reach out for some expert insights to share with you.
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Expert Insights from the American Kennel Club
Based on our research, we knew the American Kennel Club (AKC) had the expertise needed to educate us on service dogs and arranged a conversation with Mary Burch, PhD., who is Director of the AKC’s Family Dog Division.
In our conversation with Mary, which we recorded for this podcast, she answered the questions we have received from many of you about service dogs, including these.
- What are the different types of service dogs?
- What benefits service dogs provide to older adults, especially those living independently?
- Can existing pets be trained as service dogs?
- Are some breeds more suited to service?
- How can seniors and family caregivers choose the right dog?
- What questions should be answered when determining how (and if) to meet a senior’s needs with a service dog?
- Are there certification standards for service dogs or trainers?
… and more.
Mary was very generous with her time and did a great job of answering everything we threw at her, for which we are appreciative!
Still, we realize we could only scratch the surface in a conversation like this. In addition, the answer to many questions are specific to the situation of each senior and family. Mary provided us the links below for additional research and guidance.
Mary’s Suggested Links for More Information
We hope you enjoy this episode of the Senior Care Corner Podcast and find it as informative as we did.
This episode was designed based on your requests. Please let us know of other topics you would like us to cover or questions for which an expert answer would be helpful.