MOBILITY SERVICE DOGS: A safety guide

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DISCLAIMER: Service dogs are for those with disabilities and must be trained to certain standards. Please do not fraudulently try to pass off your pet as a service animal as it is a crime stated in the ADA.

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35 Comments on “MOBILITY SERVICE DOGS: A safety guide”

    1. As much as I LOVE your creation, I’m not confortable giving my adress out since it’s a privacy concern. Sorry about that! But I do love looking at all your art and the patch was really cool!

  1. So glad you mentioned OFA testing. Sven isn’t even a mobility dog, and I had her tested with the OFA to make sure she was in good working condition. (Excellent on her hips and normal on elbows! Normal is as high as you can go on elbows I believe? Will have to check again.) But I’ve heard of a lot of people not doing OFA certification and I just.. cringe every time I hear about it.

  2. Though I do not personally need this information, I want to thank you so much for this wonderfully helpful video. Education is so important for handlers who need training information and the public who needs to be informed about service dogs and public access and proper protocol for interacting with dog and handler. šŸ™‚

  3. Thanks for the video, i went to visit my service dog Atlas at the trainers (I can’t train my full time right now bc of my health) I love how you mentioned the the height and weight “requirements”. Your videos have helped me so much as a young disabled person your validation is so encouraging. I really want to invest in a BLD but money wise I can’t get it. I really like how you mentioned if your dog hasn’t been working out much the muscle isn’t exactly “prepared”. Thanks again NJ

  4. I heard that a dog can be less than half of the owners weight for forward momentum (not too much less) and i was wondering if you think thats a good way to tell if a dog is good enough for light mobility as my service dog in training may have to perform forward momentum or something similar eventually. She is only nine months old though (i havent done any mobility with her because i dont want to hurt her or her back) but she might weigh enough eventually and i still want other peoples opinions.

    1. I would say no. While that is somethign that is said, I like and prefer to consider all mobility heavy mobility. I always say at least half the weight and at least up to the mid thigh (or 40 percent height). But again, we shouldnt start trining mobility until they are at least 2 years old, so your pup has time to grow still.

    2. PawsandLove we thought she would be around 40 to 50 (shes 37 pounds already) pounds when we got her and i agree on considering all mobility heavy mobility so i think i’ll put thag off until she either gets tall enough and weighs enough or if she is full grown and isnt big enough. Shes an australian cattle dog and german shepherd so she will probably be around a good height for me.

  5. And here I was two hours ago wondering if NJ had posted a video and I just missed it. Thank you for the useful information. Iā€™m in no need for a service dog of any kind, but I enjoy learning as much as I can to enforce these laws and techniques onto others.

  6. Hey NJ!
    This is completely unrelated to the video (and service dogs). My neurologist gave me new medications for my chronic migraines. They won’t do any further treatment and/or tests for 6-8 weeks so the meds will kick in. I am QUICKLY getting much worse in my health. The last few weeks I’ve been insanely tired, very dizzy, vision sometimes going out, and passing out. They don’t seem a bit concerned about this. They just keep telling us that we can talk to them again in the 8 weeks to discuss further testing or treatment. Any suggestions on how to speed up this process as I can’t do anything except lay in bed until I get further treatment.

  7. Would you consider I guess light guide work light mobility? Like find exit, follow dad ( or who ever we are out with), find car. I’ve seen many people say it is but I’ve seen many small service dogs know these tasks! Just curious!

    1. It is techinically mobility since it puts pressure onto the shoulders and muscles of the dog! Anything that is the handler putting intentional pressure on any part of the dog is considered a mobility behavior. Of course, there are mobility tasks that are not putting any pressure at all! Like retreivals, pressing buttons etc.

    2. I would put guide work under heavy mobility as a general rule, though if you’re only using it for short periods of time infrequently it could fall to the side of light (i.e. not actual guide work, but a command to do one specific task like ‘exit’ or ‘follow’)

    3. fighting blind Like I would use find exit because sometimes in a crowded store it’s just to much for my anxiety and I need to get out. Or I would use follow (who ever we are with) for a period of time when my anxiety gets up but it would only be until I calm down and focus back on the now I guess. Also she wouldn’t be pulling me either I just want her to have the lightest bit of tension on the pull strap.

    4. My dog has one guidework task. I wouldn’t actually call it mobility work, because there’s no pressure or weight bearing at all. She recognizes if I get disoriented while walking. She steers me to the side of walkways by heeling more closely until I move over, but she doesn’t meet any pressure or resistance. When I’m sufficiently out of the way, she stops me from walking by sitting down in front of me. I consider it guidework in that it helps me to find my way around and moves me to a safer location by way of intelligent disobedience (not just continuing to heel while I walk without really realizing it or knowing where I’m going). But I definitely wouldn’t call it mobility work, and she wouldn’t be safe to handle it if it were (Healthy OFA but about 25% body weight at pet weight). So it really depends on the dog and the handler and the task. But generally speaking, guidework falls into the mobility category because there’s very little guidework that can be done without the dog pulling or bearing your weight to some extent or another. It might be extremely light mobility, but it’s still mobility. So, like, Find Exit would probably be considered mobility work, because at the very least the dog will be pulling to the side if you have to turn. More likely, there’s something similar to a momentum pull going on, or even a straight up momentum pull. The only way to avoid any weight bearing I can think of would be if A>the handler is okay with walking entirely unassisted, therefore technically still maintaining control of direction/speed and B>the dog was trained to stop heeling at turns and indicate to the handler which direction to go, probably by pointing. And maybe a few people are able to do that, but if it’s anything more intensive than a controlled breaking of a heel (that the handler doesn’t resist against, consciously or unconsciously) there’s going to be weight bearing involved.

  8. My SD does very light mobility. Counterbalance and guide work. She’s 45-50 pounds lab mix and she’s constantly working out (like a dog lol). I’m a small person and she reaches my knee-mid thigh. I also have little weight. Sugar is perfect for me since she’s large enough to easily perform guide work and small enough to be maneuvered under a seat. If I get bigger or heavier I will get a larger service dog but at the moment she’s just fine, and the vet checks her often. My first prospect ended up having hip dysplasia in one paw. He’s just a fine pet now. But I’m really considering Labs and More for my next prospect šŸ™‚ I wouldn’t of known about them if it weren’t for your amazing channel. Good luck to you and Hero!

    1. If shes SUPER fit then it should be fine, but most people DONT exersize their dogs often enough to be able to be this small and succesfully perform mobility of any sort.

    2. PawsandLove She’s definitely as fit as she can be for her breed and size. We have a large yard where she does agility-like exercise. She’s a jumper and loves to jump very high. And this is normally in the morning when my mom exercises her. Then later in the evening she gets rounds of fetch and tons of running. She has the looks of a border collie and definitely has the energy for one.

  9. My pup Onyx just turned 3 yo and is half poodle, quarter golden retriever, and the other quarter is black lab. Most of this particular mix are not suitable for mobility work because of their skeletal structure. While he has much of the poodle structure, his hips, neck, and especially his shoulders are lab, plus he has the deep strong chest. He has had xrays as he’s grown to watch his developement. Even went to Raw diet because I can control his calcium and phosphate intake on days when he’s worked hard. Additionally, he’s still intacked and we may not neuter him, because he’s a working dog not a pet and the hormones should help him stay healthy. His height is right but he’s on the lower end of the desired mass. This is why we’ve watched his bone growth so carefully. The dames and sires back multiple generations had the physical and tempermental traits desired. To get ready for his harness (like NJ’s since Bold Lead Design makes the best! Worth the price!), he has begun weight training with a pack meant for hiking. The pockets on either side are filled with water bottles, starting with no water and worked up to a litre (quart) a side. Rem the adage, pint a pound the world around, so he’s carrying 4 pounds in addition to the harness.
    Disclaimers below:
    If your pup will be on the lanky side, work with a good orthopedic vet and a general vet with working animal experience. Its worth the drive out to farm country. Talk with your vet about if and when to neuter. If your lanky pup is fully grown, seriously aim for the pooch to be 60% of your weight and still get the ortho once over (better yet an annual check up). Some vets will give deep discounts or a sliding scale because one is trying to do right by one’s mobility aid. Mine has told me to keep my mouth shut regarding his deal with me the same as my breeder. Its safe to say, there’s no profit for either.
    Note:
    Heavy mobility work is the most physically demanding of all SD tasks.
    This is my opinion based upon the experts with whom I am working. I am not a vet.
    Final note:
    *Check with a Vet even if you know you are right.*

  10. First, how did you learn all this info? You are so young to be so knowledgeable. Second, would you please talk about and demonstrate going up and down steps and curbs? I am on my fourth service dog and they were all great doing it. I am just curious how prefer.

  11. lol I’m 4 foot 1 and 84 pounds were looking for a service prospect to help make sure I don’t fall when I’m walking/crutching and help me back into my char when I fall out some of the dogs we’ve looked at come to my elbow and is any where between 10 pound lighter or ten pounds heavier than me lol.

  12. Hey babe. Watch the part where you put on harness belly strap. Hero sucked it in, think you might have gotten close to his winkie. But I could be wrong. It might just be selfpreservation / instinct on his part lol

    1. Thank you! After rewatching it Im fairly certain that was just him taking in a deep breath, but I will keep a lookout when harnessing him to make sure its not anything bad.

  13. Hi, NJ, I watched your video about ESA’s and Service Dogs. If ESA’s are not allowed to do hardly anything for their handler, like be in public places, where the person may need their ESA the most, then why do they even have ESA’s? I’m also completely surprised that if you take a class for your service dog and get a vest or a certificate of service dog training that you are usually being scammed. I’m surprised that places don’t make you show proof of being a real service dog, and not a fake one. Or have the dog were A vest saying yes, this is my service dog. Please do not touch or distract my animal. Alot of people in charge of businesses will be less likely to give you a hard time about your service dogs if you have the vest on your dog. My dad is deaf and has a coclear implant. he carries a card in his wallet stating that he has a magnet in his head, the name and phone number of the doctor, just incase he sets off a metal detectors at the airport. Sorry for such a long letter. Just Curious. I would love to set up some type of service dog organization where i live. I live in the country and their is nothing. thanks, Sincerely, Darci Scott

    1. ESAs are designed to be in the home only because they are motivators. When you have depression, it can be easy to just not get up in the morning, and to just not eat. But with a dog or a cat or an animal, you have to get up, because you have to care for that creature that is in your care and trusts you to take care of them. But with a service dog, they go into public and are trained to do specific tasks to mitigate the disability. I hope that helped clear it up a little bit!

  14. I turned down a perfect Greyhound because my needs for my SD changed to mostly mobility. It sucked, but it was necessary for the dogs health. I’m glad you made this video.

  15. Do you think standard poodles can do light mobility? If my SDIT is passed by a vet i’d like to teach light guide work and forward momentum

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