Training Dogs to Assist People in Wheelchairs

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Wheelchair Assistance Dogs

Wheelchair Assistance Dog Training
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We all know dogs are wonderful companions and they can be especially beneficial for a person in a wheelchair. However, it is extremely important you pick the dog breed that will thrive in the kind of lifestyle you live. If you don’t, chances are you’ll be contacting your local dog trainer or animal school for help.

Things to Consider When Selecting a Dog

Lifestyle

When selecting a type of dog breed that will fit your lifestyle, consider the following: Is the climate you live in generally hot or cold? Are you regularly an active person or a homebody? Are there kids in the household or other dogs? Your lifestyle should be the determining factor in deciding which dog to adopt. While this may be a difficult factor to delineate, it’s more important than how cute the dog is.

Dog Breeds

If you’re in a wheelchair, you most likely need a dog who is not very active and is as low-maintenance as possible. The Mastiff is a great choice, as the breed is very calm and easygoing. Keep in mind, Mastiffs are large in size.

If you want a dog of smaller stature, consider a Basset Hound. The Basset Hound is of good nature and generally gets along with other dogs, pets and children. Other low-maintenance breeds to consider are the friendly Great Dane, the protective Chesapeake Bay Retriever and the loyal Greater Swiss Mountain Dog.

How to Train a Dog for Wheelchair Assistance

Walk Your Dog

Before going on a walk with your dog, you’ll need to make sure your dog understands to stay on one side of you the entire time. You may want to consider hiring a certified dog trainer to help teach your dog how to properly walk next to you.

RELATED: Playing With Your Dog

Playing fetch with your dog is a great alternative to walking. You’ll want to teach your dog to drop the ball in your hand or on your lap rather than the floor. It’s recommended to have at least 20 to 30 minutes of interactive exercise with your dog daily no matter his breed. It will help you bond with your dog as well as improve your dog’s health. As the old adage goes, a tired dog is a good dog!

Take the Lead

Something else to keep in mind is leadership exercises. You need to make sure your dog understands you are the leader of the pack. This will help ensure he listens to you. You don’t want your dog to chase after a squirrel on a walk and not come when called.

To incorporate a few leadership exercises, start by feeding your dog after you eat and providing rewards you know your dog likes (e.g. food, petting and praise) when he’s obedient. Asking for a simple “sit” before you pet him is enough. Also, don’t allow your dog to get up on the furniture.

Due Diligence is a Must

Dogs are amazing companions for people of every lifestyle and disability. Remember to research the breed you want to make sure the dog you select will adapt easily to your lifestyle. Spend time teaching your dog simple obedience cues and leadership exercises to ensure a long and happy life for the both of you.

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