Types of Service Dogs and What They Do

Types of Service Dogs and What They Do

Service dogs come in all shapes, sizes, and breeds. Some are told to sit and stay by their humans; others are trained to run and fetch. Some wear vests that identify them as service animals; others just wear a smile. Regardless of the breed or temperament, each type of service dog plays a different role for their respective humans. Here’s a look at eight types of service dogs—and what they do:

Guide dogs

Man in black crew neck t shirt and blue denim jeans walking with his dog

Guide dogs are trained to assist people who are blind or visually impaired. Guide dogs must be calm, focused and comfortable with crowds and other distractions. They must also be able to walk safely on a harness, which helps their handlers navigate through busy areas like airports and train stations.

Hearing assistance dogs

Hearing assistance dogs are trained to alert their owner to sounds such as doorbells, alarm clocks, baby crying, and smoke alarms. For example, if a person is hard of hearing and needs help waking up in the morning with their alarm clock because they can’t hear it, the dog will be able to hear it and alert them by pawing or nudging them awake.

This type of service dog can also warn someone who may be experiencing sudden hearing loss (such as ringing in their ears) that something dangerous is happening around them so they can take action immediately. Hearing assistance dogs are trained using positive reinforcement techniques and they only respond when they hear specific sounds; this ensures that these dogs will only act on what is needed rather than becoming overprotective for every sound that occurs around you.

police, police dog, dog

Seizure assistance dogs

Seizure assistance dogs are trained to help individuals who experience seizures. These dogs serve as a companion and alert their handler when a seizure is about to happen. Seizure assistance dogs may also be trained to fetch medication, turn lights on or off, and give physical support during the seizure itself.

Seizure assistance dogs are not trained in the same way that other service animals are—in fact, it usually takes two years for a puppy to become fully certified as a seizure assistance dog.

Allergy detection service dogs

Allergy detection service dogs are trained to detect allergens and alert their handler when they do. This can be done either by a specific allergen or all of them, depending on what the handler needs. The dog will typically be trained in some kind of sign language, whether it’s barking or scratching at the floor, for example. Allergic handlers can use this type of assistance to prevent putting themselves in areas where they may trigger an allergic reaction such as going outside when pollen count is high or avoiding restaurants that serve foods with ingredients they are allergic to (like nuts).

dog, police, ar

Medical alert service dogs

Medical alert service dogs are a relatively new type of service dog, and they can do a lot of really helpful things. They can alert to changes in blood sugar levels, blood pressure, heart rate, breathing patterns and body temperature—all important signals that could indicate a medical emergency to the handler. They can also alert to changes in blood oxygen levels, which is an indicator that your pet may be getting sick or injured.

These types of dogs are trained to help people who have diabetes or other health conditions that require constant monitoring by medical professionals. These dogs serve as another way for these people to check on their health at home without relying on technology alone (such as glucose meters).

Autism service dogs

Autism service dogs can be trained to help with communication, social interaction, and behavior. They can also be trained to alert you if someone is approaching your child so they don’t get startled. These dogs can also help with stress and anxiety in other ways.

For example, they may provide comfort when you’re feeling anxious or stressed out by being nearby or offering affection by laying down next to you or getting close enough for you to pet them. They might even crawl into your lap if that feels like what would help calm your nerves the most!

Brown boxer dog with orange black powerdog vest

Psychiatric service dogs

Psychiatric service dogs are trained to assist people with mental illness. They can help with symptoms of depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder. These dogs can also be trained to help with other mental health conditions like obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and schizophrenia.

Psychiatric service dogs can assist their handlers in many ways. They can serve as a constant source of comfort for people who have difficulty being around others when they’re experiencing mood swings or hallucinations caused by their mental illness; they can even remind the handler to take medication when necessary!

Medical response dogs

Medical response dogs are trained to detect a medical condition and alert their handler. This can be something as simple as an elevated heart rate or blood pressure, or it could be something more serious like a seizure or diabetic shock. Once alerted, these dogs are also able to alert a medical professional by pressing an alarm button on their vest.

They may also be able to perform specific tasks for their handlers such as dialing 911 for help in case of an emergency. The most common example of this is the police service dog who can dial 911 with one paw while still keeping his other paw trained on the suspect that he’s tracking!


Now that you’re familiar with some of the different types of service dogs out there, what do you think?