Since 1999, Amazing Tails has trained dogs to help our clients maintain a safe and independent existence by assisting with everyday tasks such as aiding a person to maintain or regain their balance, assisting a wheelchair user, alerting to possible health risks such as seizures or low blood sugar, hearing a ringing phone or a fire alarm, and providing companionship.
Nestled in the hills of Oxford in southeastern Pennsylvania, Amazing Tails trains each service dog to meet the specific needs of each and every client. Our location allows us to expose the dogs we train to a wide variety of experiences, including our on-site training facility, daily exercise, visits to Amish farms, and exposure to urban environments in big cities such as Philadelphia and Washington, D.C.
What do we do?
We train four specific types of service dogs:
- Mobility support dogs
- Wheelchair assistance dogs
- Seizure alert dogs
- Hearing dogs.
Mobility Support dogs are trained to work with people who need assistance with balance and stability, walking, and momentum.
Our alerting dogs, which include seizure alert dogs, provide early warning prior to an episode and are trained to respond based on the individual’s needs.
Hearing dogs are trained to work with the hearing impaired by alerting them to sounds, such as alarm clocks, ringing phones, fire alarms, and other required sounds.
Additionally, while we don’t specifically train dogs for it, the presence of a dog can be calming and provide emotional support to those who need it.
How do we do it?
There are many different methods and techniques used in the dog-training world. We use positive reinforcement training techniques, which vary depending on what motivates each dog. Some dogs are highly motivated by food rewards, some prefer praise and some like ear rubs.
All our dogs are taught basic obedience and manners. We then build on those skills, focusing on what the client needs. Here are a few examples of skills that are taught to each type of dog:
We teach our support and stability dogs a skill called “bracing.” Bracing is when the dog becomes a stable platform that the client can use to safely stand, sit or transfer to a different position.
Individuals in wheelchairs often have difficulty picking up dropped objects, such as phones or remotes. We train wheelchair dogs to retrieve these objects.
Our wheelchair dogs are trained to accompany and assist people using wheelchairs or scooters.
Alerting dogs are special. They are paired with a partner who has seizures, and the reason they are special is because a dog cannot be trained to detect and alert that a seizure is imminent. This is a skill the dog must naturally possess, and Amazing Tails trainers are able to identify which dogs will alert. For example, minutes prior to a seizure these dogs display uncharacteristic behavior such as ignoring a command, staring, or sitting in front of the person and refusing to move.
Hearing dogs are trained to behave in a specific way when they hear a particular sound, such as a phone ringing, a doorbell or a fire alarm. For example, if the dog hears a doorbell it can be trained to run back and forth between the person and the door, alerting the person to a visitor at the door. Additionally, a hearing dog can warn of danger, such as a stove left on or to a life-threatening situation like a burglar or fire.
Who do we help?
Our clients come from all walks of life: from young children to older adults from all across the country.
Some of our clients are confined to wheelchairs. A dog can help them to open doors, retrieve dropped objects, turn on lights, transfer from chair to bed, to list just a few.
Many of our clients have difficulty with stability and balance while walking. A dog with a fixed harness handle enables the person to walk with security, a more natural gait and in a straighter position. This capability makes the client is less likely to fall.
Hearing impaired clients find life difficult, and sometimes dangerous, because they are unable to hear the sounds around them. A hearing dog can enhance their partner’s life by signaling when a teakettle is whistling, when a phone is ringing, and when the fire alarm is sounding. They can also warn when people are speaking to them and when people are approaching from behind.
These are just a few ways that Amazing Tails service dogs can help people. The possibilities are as diverse as our clients’ disabilities.
If you would like more information, please contact us!