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Guide and Service Dogs

Guide and Service Dog Information and Resources

What are guide dogs?

According to the United States Department of Veterans Affairs, guide dogs are trained to lead the blind or vision impaired. The dog acts as a pilot to direct its owner in a straight line unless directed to turn, while avoiding obstacles in all directions.

What are service dogs?

According to the United States Department of Veterans Affairs, a service dog is a dog trained to do specific tasks for a person that he or she cannot do because of a disability. Service dogs can pick things up, guide a person with vision problems, or help someone who falls or loses balance easily. For example, a service dog can help a blind person walk down the street or get dangerous things out of the way when someone is having a seizure.

Protecting someone, giving emotional support, or being a companion do not qualify a dog to be a service animal. To be a service dog, a dog must go through training. Usually the dog is trained to:

  • Do things that are different from natural dog behavior
  • Do things that the handler (dog owner) cannot do because of a disability
  • Learn to work with the new handler in ways that help manage the owner’s disability

Because the handler depends on the service dog’s help, service dogs are allowed to go to most public places the handler goes. This is the case even if it is somewhere pet dogs usually cannot go, like restaurants or on airplanes. But there are a few exceptions. For example, service dogs can be asked to leave if they are not behaving well.

To learn more visit the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Rehabilitation and Prosthetic website. 

(source: U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs)

Non-VA Related Resources

Warrior Canine Connection (WCC), located in Boyds, Maryland, utilizes a “Mission Based Trauma Recovery model to help recovering Warriors reconnect with life, their families, their communities, and each other”.  Learn more about WCC’s program here.

Hero Dogs, located in Brookeville, MD, “improves quality of life for our nation’s heroes by raising, training, and placing service dogs and other highly trained canines, free of charge with lifetime support of the partnerships”.  Learn more about Hero Dogs here.

Fidos for Freedom, Inc., located in Laurel, MD, “enhances the quality of life for people in the Washington-Baltimore Metropolitan community by providing specially trained hearing dogs, service dogs, and therapy dogs”.  Learn more about Fidos for Freedom, Inc. here.

(the links above take you outside the Maryland Department of Veterans Affairs (MDVA), the MDVA is not responsible for the content of the linked websites)




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