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Help on four pawsWhat is an assistance dog? - All important information about the animal helper

We mostly know assistance dogs only as supporters for blind people, but did you know that they can also help with other physical and even mental illnesses? In cooperation with assistant Bea Schultes, we have put together all the important information about the animal helper.

The dog is marked with a blanket as an assistance dog.
Photo: Fun moments photography / Rona Neff
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  1. For whom are assistance dogs suitable?
  2. Assistance dogs as a helper in physical diseases
  3. Assistance dogs as a helper in mental illness
  4. Is every dog ​​suitable?
  5. How is an assistance dog trained?
  6. How much is an assistance dog?

For whom are assistance dogs suitable?

Assistance dogs are mostly used as guide dogs. Partly known is that they also guide people with reduced mobility through everyday life. But also in other physical diseases such as diabetes, asthma and epilepsy, the specially trained dogs can be lifesavers according to the German Assistance Dog Center.

And that's not all: Dogs can also help with mental illness, to give those affected more quality of life.

The dog is therefore not only the best friend of humans, but can also be a major help in physical and mental illness .

Assistance dogs as helpers for physical illnesses

The animal helpers are used for a wide variety of physical illnesses. The best-known diseases in which they are used are:

  • Blindness: The guide dog helps blind people to find their way in everyday life by avoiding obstacles and guiding the assistant safely through the traffic. By order he looks for doors, stairs free seats in public transport and much more. Once he has found what he is looking for, he stops.
  • Diabetes, asthma and epilepsy: Dogs trained for these conditions notice in advance that hypoglycaemia or seizure is imminent. They therefore warn the affected person in good time before the life-threatening situation occurs. They nudge the assistant or put the paw on the lap of the victim so that he can take preventive measures.
  • People with reduced mobility: Dogs that help people with reduced mobility function in a similar way to guide dogs. They also help the assistants to get through everyday life safely. Some mobility assistance dogs can also help in the household and sometimes even get the laundry out of the washing machine.

Assistance dogs as a helper in mental illness

Assistance dogs can also provide important support for many mental illnesses. As a companion to these mental disorders, the dogs can help especially well:

  • Depression: In a sense, every dog ​​can be a helper against depression, because if you have a dog, you have to get up in the morning and go for a walk with the dog. Fresh air and exercise are important aids against depression, to which the dog contributes automatically.
  • Panic attacks and seizures: The trained dog can interrupt panic attacks and relieve seizures by bringing the emergency bag with medication and by physical contact for distraction.
  • Nightmares: If the assistant torments nightmares, the dog wakes up the affected person and calms him down.
  • Social phobia: By so-called blocking the four-legged friends can ensure that none of the assistants comes too close. For example, he sits in line at the supermarket behind the victims and thus ensures that no panic comes up by too close to strangers.

Is every dog ​​suitable?

Not every dog ​​is suitable for training as an assistance dog, because for this job the dogs must have certain characteristics:

The dogs must be calm, resilient and assertive . You often have to make decisions for the assistant. In addition, they must not have a pronounced hunting instinct, otherwise they would be difficult to keep on a leash. Especially suitable are Labradors, Golden Retrievers and Giant Poodles . But there are also dachshunds that can be trained. It always depends on the character of the individual dog.

How is an assistance dog trained?

Each assistance dog is trained individually for the assistant. It helps a coach, but also the assistant is involved in the training of the dog. That must be so, because in many diseases, the smell plays an important role and every person smells different. With low blood sugar, cramps and asthma attacks as well as panic attacks the four - legged friend can notice by the change of the smell in advance that the emergency situation occurs and react accordingly.

But the pronounced sense of hearing also comes into play during training. Especially with guide dogs, the training of hearing signals is important because he has to recognize and follow many different commands.

Depending on the illness of the assistant, training can take up to two years.

How much is an assistance dog?

The individually trained dogs cost between about 8000 and 25000 euros . The price varies so much as it depends on the assistant's illness and how long the training lasts.

Unfortunately, the health insurance almost no costs for assistance dogs. Only guide dogs are subsidized . Most of the assistance dogs have to cover the costs for all other assistance dogs themselves. However, there are two organizations that help with funding : The F onds Sexual Abuse Victims Launched by the Federal Government, and the White Ring .

Do you want to know what it's like to have an assistance dog as a loyal companion? Then read the touching story of Bea and her Labrador Valentino.

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