Disabilities that a service dog can mitigate

Service dogs can help people with hearing, mobility, developmental, medical and psychological disabilities.


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.

The following examples do not represent the entire list of disabilities supported or tasks that service dogs can do.

Hearing impairments

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

Mobility disabilities

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

Developmental disabilities

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

Medical disabilities

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

Psychological disabilities

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, comfort and therapy dogs

Emotional support or comfort dogs and therapy dogs are not considered service dogs under Alberta’s Service Dogs Act and Service Dogs Qualification Regulations (PDF, 278 KB). 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.


Service Dog Assessment Team
780-427-9136 (Edmonton)
310-0000, then 780-427-9136 (toll-free) 

Mailing address:
Service Dog Assessment Team
Community and Social Services
3rd Floor Standard Life Centre
10405 Jasper Ave NW
Edmonton AB T5J 4R7