Today's society increasingly tries to provide a way to ease and improve the quality of the human being life with disabilities, like the use of assistance dogs. Guide dogs help blind people, hearing dogs assist people with severe hearing difficulties and service dogs help people with mobility, organic or mental problems. Assistance dogs undergo a specialized training in accordance with the user's disabilities and positive reinforcement and clicker are the most used techniques. Moreover, breed and temperament choice is of utmost importance as the safety of people with disabilities is at stake. The main objective of this study was to characterize assistance dogs in Portugal in order to achieve that goal, so two types of questionnaires were made, the first one to associations that train assistance dogs, and the another one to assistance dogs users. Inquires were made to 3 associations and 32 users throughout the country. It was found that Labrador Retriever was the most used breed due to its relaxed personality, memory and physical ability. The importance of neutering/spaying and vaccination was also accessed for all dogs. Finally we found that dog users feel more confident, secure, with better self-esteem and manage to socialize easier, after these animals were involved in their lives. In our days, laws allow these types of dogs to accompany their users in any public place, whether transport or commercial facilities, therefore enabling establishment of a very strong connection with their owners since they share almost all their daily tasks.
|Publication Title||Revista Portuguesa de Ciencias Veterinarias|
|Author Address||CIISA, Faculdade de Medicina Veterinaria, Av. Universidade Tecnica, Polo Universitario Alto da Ajuda, 1300-477 Lisboa, Portugal.firstname.lastname@example.org|
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