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Labradors As Assistance Dogs

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Your Labrador was born to work, being a sporting breed that loves the water and loves to run.  Given their unique coats that shed water and their tails that move a large amount of water, their swimming abilities have made them a favorite working hunting dog since the 19th century.

Nowadays, it has been discovered that Labrador Retrievers are uniquely suited to being assistance dogs.  Their medium to large size and athletic physique makes them ideal for sturdiness for infirm human companions, while their gentle nature and intelligence means they are patient and easily trained.  An assistance dog might mean a guide dog for the blind or visually impaired, a hearing dog for the deaf, or a service dog, who assists people who have medical alert situation or need special psychiatric assistance.

The training is highly specialized for each of these animals, and there is a strict Code of Federal Regulations which define the service animal and direct the requirements for their training.  Some breeds are better at this than others, and Labradors are highly sought-after companions because they are so trainable and easy-going.  The specialized training is intended to create a service animal that is not easily rattled, maintains a friendly demeanor unless his master is threatened, and can resist distractions and temptations.

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There are hundreds of service dog organizations in the United States, and a little bit of quick research can help you either find a dog to help you, or find the training that will allow your Lab to help others.  There are more medical and psychological conditions that might be helped by a service dog than you might have imagined. It is a rewarding experience for both animal and handler, with the human’s needs being met and enabling them greater independence, and the dog’s needs being met by making it feel needed.

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