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Assistance dog: more than just a faithful friend in everyday life

Assistance dog

Assistance dogs are in many cases an indispensable help in everyday life for people with physical disabilities. They support their owners in many different ways and also often serve as an important support and soul comforter. 

In the following you will find out in which areas assistance dogs are used, which breeds are particularly suitable for training and what costs you have to expect when purchasing them. We also explain why you need to take special needs into account when feeding an assistance dog.

In which areas assistance dogs are used

The task of an assistance dog is to support a disabled person in everyday life. The best known variant of the four-legged helper is certainly the guide dog. Guide dogs are able to guide their owner safely through familiar and unfamiliar surroundings and to direct him, for example, to a door or stairs on command.

However, there are also the following types of assistance dogs:

  • Dogs for the deaf, or signal dogs, assist deaf people by alerting them to sounds such as the ringing of a door.
  • Handicapped assistance dogs or service dogs help people with limited motor skills, for example by operating a light switch, opening a door or picking up a fallen object.
  • Medical signal dogs can warn diabetics of hyperglycaemia or hypoglycaemia, or even sense when a seizure is imminent in a person with epilepsy.

Not every dog is suitable as an assistance dog<

Not every dog is suitable as an assistance dog

Of course you can train any dog and make it obey you in everyday life. Because problems with the behaviour of the four-legged friend almost always have their cause in mistakes that humans make in dealing with the animal.

However, this does not mean that every dog can be trained as an assistance dog. After all, this dog must often be able to take on tasks that cannot be compared in any way with those of a normal family dog.

To be eligible for training as an assistance dog, a dog must meet the following requirements in particular:

  • A lot of patience
  • A high stimulus threshold
  • No tendency to aggression
  • Sociability
  • No nervousness

In addition, depending on the future use of the dog, it may be important that the assistance dog does not have a problem with excessive physical contact and unusual behaviour by its owner. 

Which breeds can be used as assistance dogs?

German Shepherds, Poodles, Collies and Golden Retrievers are very often trained as assistance dogs. In principle, however, any breed can be trained as an assistance dog, as long as the respective animal meets the corresponding requirements. 

In addition, the future owner also plays a role in the choice of a suitable dog. For example, for a child it may make sense to use a smaller four-legged friend, while a larger animal is more suitable for an adult.

The training as an assistance dog

The training of an assistance dog is usually started at puppy age. Before the actual training begins, however, the basic suitability of the four-legged friend must first be checked.

Afterwards the animal gradually learns its future tasks. Since there are no uniform regulations for the training of assistance dogs so far, the procedure and duration can vary from provider to provider.

In principle, however, sound training requires time and is not completed in a few weeks. For example, it can take about 1.5 years until a guide dog is ready for use.

Apart from that, it is always necessary in the training of an assistance dog that the four-legged friend and his future owner can get used to each other and that the owner can easily keep the animal under control on his own. The latter must be proven in a joint test.

Assistance dogs are expensive

In view of the extensive training, it is hardly surprising that the purchase of an assistance dog is associated with considerable costs. Depending on what the animal must be able to do in the future, the training costs can easily range from 25,000 to 30,000 euros.

Unfortunately, in many cases health insurance companies do not cover these costs so far. Only in the case of guide dogs is there a claim to the assumption of costs under certain circumstances. But even then it is often difficult to get a permit from the health insurance company.

Special legal requirements for the carrying of assistance dogs

Every dog owner knows that he may not take his four-legged friend everywhere. With an assistance dog, however, the situation is different. Since the owner is often compulsively dependent on the help of his four-legged companion, he may take him almost everywhere.

For example, assistance dogs have free access to supermarkets, public buildings as well as hospitals and doctors' surgeries, so that they can support their owner there too.

Financial relief for owners of assistance dogs

Owners of assistance dogs do not have to pay dog tax in many municipalities or at least get it reduced. In view of the acquisition costs for the four-legged friend this may not be much, but it is at least a small financial relief for the keeping.

In addition, there are no costs for larger animals when travelling by train with the German Railway. Because while owners of normal dogs that do not fit into a transport box have to buy a dog ticket, assistance dogs can travel free of charge, regardless of their size.

Assistance dogs go into retirement

Just like in humans, the performance capacity of dogs also decreases with age. For this reason, assistance dogs do not remain in service their whole life, but are sent into retirement when they can no longer perform their tasks.

Assistance dogs go into retirement

In many cases they then move to a new family where they can enjoy their old age and simply be a dog. Depending on the circumstances, it is also possible that the assistance dog stays with its owner and spends its retirement there together with its successor.

Why nutrition is so important for assistance dogs

The work as an assistance dog represents a burden for the four-legged friend which should not be underestimated. After all, the animal must constantly concentrate and function reliably at all times.

In order to support him in this, a species-appropriate nutrition for assistance dogs is of decisive importance. A well-tolerated dog food is the basis in this context and ensures that the dog is supplied with sufficient energy.

In addition, it is advisable to take into account the special everyday requirements of assistance dogs with suitable food supplements and thus support their health with additional nutrients.

We recommend that you supplement the diet of your assistance dog with the following products:

Bellfor Fitness Powder supplies the assistance dog's body with all essential amino acids as well as important vitamins and minerals. The natural preparation supports regeneration and helps the dog to stay focused and to better master its strenuous tasks.

Bellfor Immune strengthens the defences of your assistance dog with selected ingredients and thus helps your four-legged friend to survive his stressful everyday life without any health consequences.

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