Service Dog Skills

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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