Service Dog Skills

Service Dog Skills

Our service dogs are experienced with numerous tasks. At Retrieving Independence, we’ve identified key categories of our Comfort/Needs-Based Tasks.

We invite you to explore.

  • Bracing-Based Tasks

    Appropriate matching of dog and human stature and weight required.

    • Assist with transfer from wheelchair to bed, toilet, bathtub or van seat
    • Walk step-by-step on stairways, bracing between each step
    • Dog positions self and braces to help partner catch balance while partner rises from a chair
    • Prevent falls and stumbling by bracing on command
    • Help partner up from chair or floor by tugging a strap
    • Assist partner to turn over in bed
  • Carrying-Based Tasks
    • Carry a basket of items around the house
    • Transport items upstairs or downstairs to a specific location
    • Carry items while following a partner using a cane, walker, or other mobility aids
    • Carry mail or newspaper inside the house
    • Carry items from the partner to a caregiver or family member in another room
    • Carry groceries inside in canvas bags
    • Take credit card or money from partner and give to store clerk and return to partner
  • Comfort-Based Tasks
    • Barrier in social and personal space
    • Awareness in environmental settings to make partner aware of approaching person
    • Move on command to mark human partner’s comfortable boundaries
    • Snuggle, hug or lick to calm human partner
  • Deposit-Based Tasks
    • Put trash, junk mail into a wastebasket or garbage can
    • Deposit cans/bottles into a recycling bin
    • Deliver items to a closet
    • Deposit dog toys into designated container
    • Put prescription bag, mail and other items on counter top
    • Load clothing into front loading washing machine
    • Transfer items from front-loading washer to dryer and a laundry basket
    • Deposit unbreakable drinking vessels and dinnerware to sink
  • Emergency Assistance
    • Bark for help
    • Carry a pre-arranged object to caregiver as a signal that help is needed
    • Press button for emergency help/summons 911
    • Find the caregiver and lead back to partner
    • Wake up a partner in response to alarm
    • In the event of seizure, roll partner on side and brace to prevent harm
    • Interrupt repetitive tics and actions of partner
    • Alert to high and low blood sugar, get water or juice from refrigerator and retrieve test and insulin bags
    • Lick partner during and after seizure to assist in transition

  • Nose-Nudge-Based Tasks
    • Nudge shut the cupboard door, drawers, dishwasher
    • Push the button for emergency alert systems
    • Operate button or push plate on electric commercial doors, crosswalks, elevators
    • Turn light switches on and off
    • Assist wheelchair user to regain sitting position if slumped over
    • Return foot to the footboard of a wheelchair, arms inside chair when going through doorways, or help get leg into bed
  • Harness-Based Tasks

    Appropriate matching of dog and human stature and weight required.

    • Assist moving wheelchair on flat surfaces (partner holds onto harness pull strap)
    • Brace, providing a counter-balance to assist in walking (with a hard handle on harness)
    • Transport textbooks, business supplies or other items in a wagon (maximum load based on the stature of dog)
    • Help ambulatory partner to climb stairs by bracing between steps
    • Brace on command to keep an ambulatory partner from stumbling or falling
    • Pull partner out of seats using the handle of the harness.
  • Paw-Based Tasks
    • Cupboard door – shut it with one paw
    • Dryer door – shut it with one paw
    • Refrigerator and freezer door – one forepaw or both
    • Depress floor pedal device to turn on appliances or lamps
    • Close heavy doors by jumping up and using both forepaws
    • Put forepaws in the lap of a wheelchair user, hold that position so partner can access medications, cell phone or other backpack items
  • Retrieval-Based Tasks
    • Find known named items (such as phone) in any room in the house
    • Pick up dropped items (e.g., coins, keys, credit cards, bags, papers, phone, anything)
    • Bring clothes, shoes, slippers to assist with dressing
    • Fetch basket with medications
    • Fetch wheelchair, walker, cane, or crutches when out of reach
    • Retrieve items from across room or from shelves when pointed at by human partner with laser light
    • Pull blanket over partner
  • Tug-Based Tasks
    • Open cupboard doors with attached strap
    • Open drawers using a strap
    • Open refrigerator door with a strap or suction cup device
    • Answer doorbell and open front door with a strap attached to lever handle
    • Open and shut interior home, office doors
    • Assist partner to remove socks, shoes, slippers, pants, shirts