Service dogs can be any breed, but there are certain breeds that make better service animals than others. Golden Retrievers are one of the most popular service dog breeds around and you will often see them out in the community performing their duties. Why do Golden Retrievers make good service dogs?
Golden Retrievers make good service dogs because of their gentleness, intelligence and devotion. Golden’s have a great disposition and are easy to train, which are both necessary traits for a service animal. Golden Retriever service dogs take their job very seriously and enjoy helping their companions.
In this article, we’ll delve deeper into why Golden Retrievers make such good service dogs. We’ll also talk about the duties that a Golden can best perform and how you can train a Golden to be a service dog. Read on.
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Qualities of a Good Service Dog
There are over a hundred different dog breeds in the US alone, and up to 360 officially recognized breeds worldwide. The vast majority of these animals live their lives as pets, but when looking to train an animal for service work, many other factors will have to be taken into consideration. When choosing a specific dog to be a service animal, trainers need to factor in the individual dog’s character traits and physical attributes to determine the types of specific tasks they are best suited for.
Here are some useful attributes that make for a good service dog:
- Calm temperament
- Eager to please
- Easy to train
- Well-socialized (comfortable around people and other pets)
- Can ignore distractions and focus on a task
As you can already guess, Golden Retrievers possess these traits in abundance, so no wonder they make such good service dogs.
Why Golden Retrievers Are Used as Service Dogs
Although there is no single dog breed you can consider perfect when it comes to how they carry out their duties as a service animal, the Golden Retriever breed has always been just about as close to perfect as you can get. Goldens combine most of the qualities that make for an ideal service dog, which is why they are regarded as one of the best service animals in the world.
Let’s take a closer look at the general qualities of a Golden Retriever, and see how they measure up to the requirements of a service/companion dog.
Golden Retrievers Are Energetic
If you know anything about Golden Retrievers you know that they have a lot of energy. These energetic dogs can keep working all day long without tiring. As they were originally bred to be a working dog to accompany hunters on long outings, they can use this seemingly never ending source of energy in their duties as a service dog.
In addition, Goldens are big enough to handle some tasks that small service animals wouldn’t physically be able to handle. A fully grown Golden Retriever dog is a medium to large breed, weighing between 60 and 80 pounds, and standing at about 22 inches tall.
Their bigger size is ideal for tasks that require more energy, like pulling or carrying heavy objects. They’ll also be able to pick-up relatively heavy objects and deliver them on command. This is a much needed ability in a service dog.
As an active breed, a Golden Retriever has plenty of energy, which is great for someone who has limitations on what they can do physically because it gives them more endurance than most other breeds when performing service oriented tasks.
Golden Retrievers Are Loyal and Intelligent
Golden Retrievers are very intelligent, in fact, they rank 4th in intelligence out of the top ten smartest dog breeds. Because of their smarts, they are able to work out complex problems, and can recall routes that other dogs (or even humans) are incapable of remembering.
Golden Retrievers are also very loyal dogs. They won’t leave their owners side, and once assigned responsibilities, they’ll keep working without getting distracted until the task is done. Putting their intelligence and loyalty together makes a Golden Retriever almost unstoppable when it comes to providing help as a service dog.
Golden Retrievers Are Well-Socialized
A great service dog needs to be confident and comfortable being around people, including strangers. A well-trained and socialized Golden Retriever exudes these qualities!
Goldens love people, are very social, and tend to get along with everyone in the family or social group, including children and other pets/animals. Goldens are cuddly and affectionate in general and will make a great canine companion when their work is done.
Golden Retrievers Have a Great Sense of Smell
Golden Retrievers also have a very good sense of smell. This is a useful trait as a service dog because they can help you identify objects by sniffing them. Their amazing sense of smell can be used in all sorts of ways from finding food ingredients in the kitchen to locating lost items at home.
This trait, combined with the ability to retrieve the item once found, is a huge bonus for those with limited mobility.
Golden Retrievers Are Easy To Train
Golden Retrievers are outgoing, intelligent, and always eager to please. They are one of the easiest dogs to train when kept as a pet.
A Golden Retriever that is destined to be a service dog, however, will require even more training than a household dog. While this training can take quite some time, a Golden Retriever is up to the challenge and even relishes the time spent training and learning new things.
Discover how to train your Golden Retriever by playing games: 21 games to play with your Golden that will make them smarter and better behaved!
Types of Duties That Best Suit Golden Retrievers As Service Dogs
Golden Retrievers are very sensitive to human beings. They’ll know when you’re hurting and offer comfort by gently lying beside you or cuddling with you. These traits make them best-suited for mobility dog service and assistance dogs.
- Golden Retriever guide dogs: This type of service involves providing support to blind/ visually impaired people for easy navigation of their surroundings.
- Mobility assistance Golden Retrievers: Mobility assistance Golden Retrievers first undergo training to help people with disabilities move safely to where they want to go. You’ll find mobility assistance Golden Retrievers offering assistance to people who are dependent on wheelchairs for movement. These dogs usually wear special vests for easy recognition by authorities in the community.
Tasks Mobility Assistance and Mobility Service Golden Retrievers Can Perform
Golden Retrievers are good guide dogs used to help the blind to live a comfortable and independent life. If you have a family member with sight impairment, it can help greatly to have a properly trained Golden Retriever to help them navigate when nobody else is around.
Here are some ways a trained mobility Golden Retriever can assist the physically challenged:
- Turn lights on and off
- Carry small objects and bags
- Press buttons and open automatic doors
- Provide physical support during dressing and undressing
- Provide support and stability while climbing up or going downstairs
- Open and close drawers, doors, and closets
- Help to cross streets and avoid obstacles when outside the home
There are many responsibilities for a mobility service dog, and a Golden Retriever will perform each exactly as they’ve been trained to do.
While a person can train a Golden Retriever to perform certain one-off tasks, a fully-trained and registered service dog is generally trained for a year or more by an outside organization.
How To Train A Golden Retriever To Be a Service Dog
As previously stated, Golden Retrievers are fast learners and will adapt to situations quickly with proper guidance. Depending on the specific needs of a person with disabilities, an excellent service dog will need to be trained extensively to provide help with a variety of responsibilities.
Most of these services relate to helping disabled and sick people. These services include:
- Guide training for the visually impaired
- Hearing training for individuals with hearing impairment (hearing dog)
- Mobility training for those in wheelchairs or with vision impairment
- Therapy dog training
- Assistance dog training (opening and closing doors, switching lights on and off, carrying objects, and more)
- Emotional support dog (Anxiety, PTSD, etc.)
- Diabetic alert dog
- Medical alert dog
As you might imagine, training a certified Golden Retriever service dog takes many months and includes extensive specialized training that is best performed by, or in conjunction with, a professional group or organization that has the knowledge and skills to train (or help you train) a service Golden Retriever correctly.
One service dog organization that offers these types of trained service animals is PAWS With A Cause. If you’d like to learn how to custom train an assistance dog, you’ll need to be very serious about the process and the training required for both you and your foster dog.
They will provide you with a foster puppy (usually a Golden Retriever puppy or a Labrador Retriever puppy), which you will train with their help over the course of the next one to two years. These puppies are being trained to be working service dogs, and as such they will have to live by a different set of rules than a regular household pet. Additionally, you must be prepared to give up the dog to someone in need when the time comes.
If you can abide by these conditions, you would be providing a trained Golden Retriever to someone who’s life would be dramatically improved by having a service dog as a friend, helper, and companion.
Golden Retrievers make good service dogs due to their high energy levels, loyalty, intelligence, and their ability to be easily trained. Having a Golden Retriever service animal can make a big difference in the life of a person living with a disability.
A Golden Retriever can provide calm assistance, protection from injury, and an increased sense of freedom for those in need. On top of all this, a Golden Retriever, trained as a service dog, will do his or her job cheerfully and happily!