Disabilities a service dog can mitigate

Service dogs can help people with a broad range of disabilities.

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For some Albertans with disabilities, service dogs are essential in supporting them to get a job, go to school, get services or participate in community activities. New uses for service dogs are being discovered every day.

Some of the disabilities that service dogs can support include:


A service dog can help someone with a hearing impairment by:

  • alerting handler to name being called
  • alerting handler to phone ringing
  • alerting handler to oncoming cars
  • alerting handler to any potential dangers
  • alerting handler to the presence of others


A service dog can help someone with a physical disability or mobility challenges by:

  • retrieving dropped items
  • carrying items in a store or to another room
  • placing items on a counter
  • opening/closing doors
  • retrieving common items
  • turning lights on and off
  • assisting with the transfer from wheelchair to chair
  • alerting others in the event of emergency


A service dog can help someone with autism spectrum disorder or similar conditions by:

  • calming the individual when agitated
  • preventing the individual from bolting
  • facilitating social interactions


A service dog can help someone with a medical disability such as seizure disorders, diabetes, cardiac rhythm disturbances, etc. by:

  • alerting the individual to changes in medical condition, such as low blood sugar, impending seizures or cardiac rhythm disturbances
  • retrieving medication or a phone if needed
  • alerting others to the need for assistance
  • watching over the individual and providing comfort until help arrives


A service dog can help someone with a psychological condition such as Post-traumatic Stress Disorder by:

  • providing tactile stimulation to focus the individual
  • retrieving medication if needed
  • providing a brace for handler
  • assisting handler to leave a social situation, as with panic attacks
  • facilitating social interactions
  • assisting handler in creating a safe personal space
  • alerting handler to changes in mood or mental status

Emotional support and therapy

Emotional support or comfort dogs and therapy dogs are not considered service dogs under Alberta’s Service Dogs Act and Service Dogs Qualifications Regulations. Emotional support dogs provide comfort and companionship to the dog owner, but are not trained to do specific tasks that assist a disability. A therapy dog is brought by the owner on visits to people in institutions or in their homes, providing others with an opportunity to interact with a dog.


Connect with the Service Dog Assessment Team:

Phone: 780-427-9136
Toll free: 310-0000 before the phone number (in Alberta)
Email: [email protected]

Government of Alberta, Guide and Service Dogs
Civil Society and Community Initiatives Branch
Seniors, Community and Social Services
Forestry Building
4th Floor, 9920 108 Street NW
Edmonton, Alberta  T5K 2M4