For Children with a Physical Disability
Facilitated Service Dogs
Service dogs assist children with a physical disability by performing tasks that the child cannot do or has trouble doing. These tasks are similar to the tasks that service dogs do for adults. These tasks include picking up dropped items, retrieving objects from tables or counters, turning light switches on and off, pushing automatic door buttons, tugging doors and cabinets open, standing and bracing for stability during a transfer, barking on command for help, and getting a cordless phone in an emergency.
NEADS places assistance dogs with children age 10 and up with the partnership of a parent or guardian (also known as a facilitator). This facilitator must live with the client and accompany him or her in all public places whenever the dog is present. Although the child is the main caregiver for the dog and does most of the work with the dog, the facilitator may take on some responsibility for assisting the child in the care, health and safety of the dog. Ultimately, the facilitator must make sure that the dog's needs are being met and that all training criteria are adhered to. Facilitated service dogs do not attend school with children, since the facilitator must always accompany the dog and client in public places. After the child reaches the age of 15, young clients often mature enough to use their dog without the use of a facilitator, and may be retested and recertified to do so.