Service Dogs, Therapy Dogs and Social Facilitator Dogs
Our goal at Genteel Standard Poodles is to provide the healthiest, most temperamentally sound and structurally correct dogs possible. In doing so we create long-lived, happy and beautiful companions and working dogs.
Many people are unaware of the type of work Poodles can and do perform. This page is intended to provide an overview of the “services” working poodles can provide.
We are often asked: “What is the difference between the dogs placed as pets, and the dogs that are chosen to enter service programs?”
The answer is: Not much. After very careful selection of parent dogs, genetic screening and socialization practices, there isn’t much difference in temperament between our puppies selected to go into the working programs and those chosen to be sold as companions/pets. The genetics are the same and the socialization practices are employed on all of our puppies.
Almost any puppy from our litters is able to go into a working situation. They are, for the most part, all bright, all healthy, and all easy to train with great temperaments. Frequently, the only reason one puppy is chosen over another has to do with something as insignificant as size, color, or gender. Our puppies grow up to be great dogs, and with the right training they can also be great partners at work.
A service dog as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act is (paraphrased) any dog that has been trained to do a specific task in order to help its disabled owner live a more normal life.
Guiding the blind, pulling a wheel chair, retrieving a dropped object, calming and distracting from anxiety and alerting to oncoming seizures or blood sugar levels being out of balance, are all common tasks performed by service dogs. They are allowed by federal law to accompany their handler anywhere; into restaurants, movie theaters or grocery stores, etc. Access is required by law.
Social Facilitating Dog
Until recently, a social facilitator dog was considered a service dog. However, changes in federal law have eliminated this type of job description from the laws protecting service dog access. In other words, if a restaurant, movie theater, grocery store or business owner objects to the social facilitator dog then it must leave. Access is not guaranteed.
A social facilitator dog is a dog that accompanies an individual in order to give that individual moral support, companionship, and to act as a buffer against strangers. Other than basic obedience training the dog does not have specialized training. The owner may or may not be considered disabled.
A good example of social facilitating dogs are dogs given to children with developmental disabilities. The dogs may accompany the children many places but they are not covered by the same laws covering service dogs.
They are working dogs that are part of the family, but with responsibilities going beyond that of simply being a great pet.
A therapy dog is not actually a service dog. A therapy dog can not accompany a handler into areas off limits to dogs. However, they are still working dogs. Therapy dogs are dogs with special training and very tolerant personalities. They have an affinity for people and can be somewhat intuitive as to the health of a person. They are calm and well-behaved in their presence. They are taken by owner-volunteers to visit hospitals, hospice facilities, rehab and assisted living facilities.
Professional therapists will often use dogs in individualized treatment plans. Many people have an easier time with therapy when a dog is in the room or has their head in the lap. Children, especially, may be coaxed into talking to a dog when talking to an adult may be too intimidating.
We believe all dogs do best with a job, whether it is fetching slippers, listening to children read or pulling a wheelchair. Our Genteel Standard Poodles like to work, and they love their people.