Assistance Dogs: The Basics


Most people are familiar with the roles of guide dogs (aka Seeing Eye dogs) and Hearing Dogs. However, there are many other types of assistance dogs out there, including medical alert dogs, psychiatric service dogs, therapy dogs, mobility assistance dogs and autism assistance dogs.

All types are essential to their handlers and are much more than clever pets. Therefore it is important that you do not approach an assistance dog who is working or in training, as to do so may distract the dog. This will, at best, be an inconvenience and, at worst, could put the handler in real danger.

Unfortunately at the present time, there are no charities registered with Assistance Dogs UK that train psychiatric service dogs. This is a real shame as these dogs can have a significant and positive impact on the lives of people with mental health problems, problems which are equally as debilitating as any physical impairment. For now, therapy dogs and untrained pets fill the gap. Read more here

One last thing- under the Equality Act 2010, it is against the law in the UK to refuse entry to a public place to someone with a registered Assistance Dog.

Hope you’ve learnt something new today! Remember to visit again tomorrow as there will be another guest post to look forward to.

Picture from The Guardian


5 Responses to “Assistance Dogs: The Basics”

  1. […] guest post talks through the pros and cons of deciding to get a service dog. As mentioned in ‘Assistance Dogs: The Basics‘, psychiatric dogs are less common in the UK and are not yet certifiable. If you’re […]

  2. bethfinke Says:

    Good work here! I finally linked to Animal Translation from my “Safe & Sound” blog, hope it brings you many more followers –cheers!

  3. Peter Stelmacovich Says:

    I have a Hearing Ear Dog. In Canada, we have various Human Rights Codes in provinces that prohibit discrimination against people who use service animals. However, I have had many instances where I was refused service due to a dog. For example, I find it very hard to get a taxi cab, particularly in larger Canadian cities where there are large populations of people for whom their religions do not think very highly of dogs. I have brought cases to a human rights tribunal, but they did not seem to take it very seriously. No fines or other punishments were ordered; all I got was a written apology.

    What is the situation like in the UK?

    • Hi Peter, thanks for getting in touch, and apologies for the delay in replying. I have heard of numerous accounts of discrimination against assistance dog owners, however the majority of these come from contacts in the US. In the UK attitudes towards users of registered assistance dogs seem to be quite different. Owners of registered Guide Dogs enjoy free access as the profile of the ‘Guide Dogs for the Blind’ charity here is very high and well established. Everyone recognises and respects the dogs with the yellow harnesses. However, owners of other types of service dogs sometimes find their access rights are questioned more frequently than might be the case for Guide Dog owners. Signs on shops and other public areas often state ‘No Dogs Allowed, Except Guide Dogs’ and in that capacity the public at large is still behind the times in recognising the equal access rights of ALL registered Assistance Dog Owners. Luckily in the UK, there is an increasing amount of media dedicated to the work of the assistance dog, and although attitudes here aren’t perfect, they are certainly improving.

      I am sorry to here about your experiences in Canada, but glad that you took it to a human rights tribunal, as the more people are called up on their actions the better the chance of change. I’m sure you will already be well informed on your rights as an Assistance Dogs user in your country, but I’d like to take the opportunity to direct those with more questions to the resource on the Assistance Dogs International website:

      Best Wishes,


  4. […] to apologise for the lack of recent activity, and thank those who contributed to the AT’s Assistance Dog Week at the start of the year. There were some really engaging guest posts to read and due to it’s […]

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