Tip of the Month

8/15/2012 Wheelchairs and Dogs

Wheelchairs and dogs

Dogs Can Help Owners in Wheelchairs

As a professional dog trainer, I have had clients in wheelchairs and have also had people ask me questions about getting a dog for someone in a wheelchair. We all know that dogs are wonderful companions, and they can be especially beneficial for a person in a wheelchair. However, it is extremely important that you pick the breed that will thrive in the kind of lifestyle you live. If you do not, chances are that you will be contacting your local dog trainer or animal school for help.

Things To Consider When Selecting A Dog

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 hard topic to delineate, it is more important than how cute the dog is!

Breeds to Consider

If you are in a wheelchair, you most likely need a dog that is not very active and is as low-maintenance as possible. The Mastiff is a great choice as it is very calm and easy going, unless you are not looking for a dog that massive. If you want a dog of smaller statue, 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.

Walking Your Dog

If you are in a wheelchair and able to take your dog on a walk, 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 professional dog trainer to help teach your dog how to properly walk next to you. Playing fetch with your dog is a great alternative to going for a walk. You’ll want to teach your dog to drop the ball in your hand or on your lap rather than the floor. We suggest at least 20-30 minutes of interactive exercise with your dog daily no matter what the breed. It will help you bond with your dog, as well as improve your dogs 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 that your dog understands you are the leader of the pack, this will help to ensure that he will listen to you. You do not 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 make sure your dog only receives things he likes (food, petting, praise) when he is obedient. Asking for a simple sit before you pet him is enough. Also, do not 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 that 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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