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I'm looking for ideas and resources about training a dog to help older people around the house. I know that some service dogs are trained to hold things, pick things up, open doors, etc. I'm fuzzy on the details, though, and I feel like I might be missing some obvious tasks that a dog could perform. So far, the main task I can think of would be picking things up off the floor so they don't have to bend down to get them. Of course, if the dog could be trained to open jars, that would be really helpful, but I imagine there are some anatomical obstacles there. :p But is it possible for a dog to...I don't know...find someone's glasses for them? Help them keep their balance? (In my experience, they are better at throwing people OFF balance, lol.)

I'm also wondering if there are any good books specifically about training these types of tasks. I read quite a bit about operant conditioning, but I see no reason to reinvent the wheel if other people have already come up with solid protocols for this stuff. I'm just not sure specifically what I should be looking for. Is there a name for this? Or a specific type of training that would be similar?

This is a dog that is going to be a couch buddy anyway, so I figure since she is there, she might as well help out around the house. Seems like a win-win.

Any information or advice would be most welcome. TIA!
 

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reminder to take their medication, my friend was teaching her dog to bring her , the bag that had her medication at certain times of the day
 

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Most of the things you described- picking items up off the floor, retrieving items like glasses/medications/remotes, finding lost items (keys/remotes/glasses/etc), balance support- are pretty common mobility assistance tasks trained to service dogs. It's not uncommon for dogs to be in-home only, as well, and not to assist the person in public so much.

I would say the main limitation in placing mobility assistance dogs with older people would be that the dog may outlive the person. You'd definitely have to have a contingency plan for that situation. For example, Bush Sr had a service dog for mobility assistance, and when he died recently, the program had to take the dog back.

Are you wanting to train a dog for a specific person, start a program, ... ?
 

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Thank you! This is all very helpful. The term "mobility assistance" will really help me find the resources I am looking for! I just didn't know what it was called, hehe. Thank you for the book suggestions and task ideas. I think I'm going to start with training her to stay out of the way (she's a bit of a cuddlebug) and maybe just pick things up. Those sound like manageable goals for now.

The balance tasks seem a bit daunting. I don't want to risk her health or make her wear a bulky harness. I don't think she'd enjoy that very much. But retrieving objects from the floor or finding things would probably be really enjoyable for her. And that medication reminder is a really clever idea!

I would say the main limitation in placing mobility assistance dogs with older people would be that the dog may outlive the person.

Are you wanting to train a dog for a specific person, start a program, ... ?
Oh, no worries there. This dog has a home. There just happen to be older folks living in the same household who could use a hand here and there. I don't have any plans to train her as an "official" service dog or anything. I just thought it might be fun for her to have a "job" during the day since she's hanging out anyway. :)

Thank you for the info. I really appreciate it.
 
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