Today, the Golden Retriever remains a force to be reckoned with in every competitive event in which they are involved. In addition to competing in events and being great household pets, Goldens have made a name for themselves when it comes to helping people in trouble. They have reinvented themselves as extraordinary service dogs. In addition to winning the hearts of their families, Goldens have gone on to save countless lives, guide futures, and heal hearts.
Search And Rescue
Search and Rescue (or SAR) teams may search hundreds of miles of wilderness to find a lost child or through tons of rubble to find a buried victim. SAR Goldens have learned to respond reliably to commands, negotiate uncertain footing, follow a trail and locate articles. Most of all, they have learned to use air scenting to pinpoint the location of a hidden person. Golden Retrievers have shown they can retrieve lost people as well as fallen birds.
Therapy dogs visit hospitals, nursing homes, mental health facilities, prisons, and other places where they can provide people with unconditional love, motivation to communicate, entertainment, or just somebody warm and cuddly to hug. Therapy dogs must be extremely well mannered and well groomed, and above all, be friendly and completely trustworthy. If someone grabs, yells at, or a hugs a therapy dog too tightly, the dog must remain gentle and unbothered. The Certified Therapy Dog letters are among the proudest a dog can earn. The Golden Retriever, with its optimistic outlook and uncanny knack for understanding human emotions has excelled in the therapy field. They are essentially true therapists in fur coats.
Golden Retrievers are among the most popular breeds for helping people with mental and physical challenges. It’s no surprise that the ideal helping dog is one that is intelligent and eager to please, yet able to think on its own. They need to be confident and personable, and of adequate strength to guide or pull a person. Goldens fit the job description perfectly.
Helping the Physically Impaired
Golden Retrievers are one of the most popular breeds for helping people with physical disabilities. This assistance can take the form of pulling a person in a wheelchair, picking up dropped objects, getting objects off high shelves, opening doors, and pushing a 911 button in case of an emergency.
Other service dogs specialize in alerting a person who is about to have a seizure. Exactly how these creatures become aware of an upcoming seizure even before the person knows one is coming is unknown. It is thought that the dog smells a change in body chemistry associated with changes in brain activity. These dogs provide a measure of safety and confidence for their people. Other dogs provide safety once a seizure has occurred, lying next to the person until it has stopped. Seizure dogs must know the difference between friend and enemy, allowing helpers to approach the victim, while discouraging those with bad intentions.
Helping the Visually Impaired
In recent years, Golden and Labrador Retrievers have made up the majority of guide dogs. This is because these breeds have consistently exhibited the necessary traits to perform the job successfully. The working guide dog is expected to take directional commands from the handler, locate specified objects such as curbs, doors, and steps, stop at obstacles, and maneuver around dangerous traffic situations. They give their visually impaired handlers mobility, confidence, independence, and love.
Some guide dog facilities breed their own dogs, whereas others accept donated puppies that pass very strict criteria. Most facilities rely on puppy raisers to provide a caring home environment, well-rounded socialization, and basic obedience to youngsters. The puppies then go to school for formal training when they are between 12 and 18 months of age. Not all dogs graduate, but those that do have a full life of helping others ahead of them.
Helping the Hearing Impaired
Goldens can also provide confidence and assistance for hearing-impaired people. Although most dogs for the deaf are small dogs rescued from humane organizations, Golden Retrievers have been trained to do the same job. Dogs at the novice or lowest level are trained to alert the person to a smoke alarm, the person’s name being called, and the alarm clock. A slightly more trained dog alerts the person to the doorbell, telephone, and oven timer. The certified hearing dog responds to these same sounds but is also extensively socialized and obedience trained so that he is dependable in public as well as in the home.
Please note: This article is part of a collection of dog-related content that we purchased the rights to. Opinions expressed may or may not agree with those espoused by Master Dog Trainer Adam G. Katz. When in doubt, please refer to the advice given in Adam’s dog training book. This article is provided for your enjoyment, only. It’s relevance to real world working dog training may be limited.