Gigantic List of the Top 150 Service Dog Tasks

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A service dog is a dog that has been trained to do specific tasks or work that help reduce a disabled owner’s specific disabilities. Service dog tasks are often used to help mitigate physical, psychiatric and developmental disabilities.

Because one person’s disabilities can be so different from another person’s, there isn’t a “One Size Fits All” approach to what tasks a service dog may know. Instead, each service dog is trained to do unique tasks for their specific owner. As a result, many are cross trained or trained for multiple purposes and multiple tasks in different categories.

Also, it’s important to be aware that unless the specific task is actually helping the person’s disability, it’s actually considered a trick.

For example; my disabilities don’t require that I need my dog to alert to a smoke alarm going off. So, if I decide to teach my dog to alert me when a smoke alarm goes off, that would actually a trick, not a task.

A service dog only needs to be able to reliably perform one task that helps mitigate their owner’s disabilities.

More tasks does not equal a better service dog.

Below you can find a list of the 150 most common tasks that service dogs are trained to do; from alerting, to mobility, medical response, and more. Just so you’re aware, because tasks aren’t duplicated, a specific task will only show up in one category, even though many tasks can fit into more than one of the categories below. 

***This list does not encompass every possible task or type of work. These are just the most common tasks that a service dog may be taught. 

Alerts to noises:

Mini poodle wearing a black and green service dog vest in front of yellow and red flowers

  • Alert handler to another person or child crying/calling/yelling
  • Alert to alarm
  • Alert to approaching car
  • Alert to car horn
  • Alert to doorbell/knocking
  • Alert to handler’s name
  • Alert to phone
  • Alert to siren
  • Alert to smoke alarm
  • Alert to horn honking
  • Alert to sounds
  • Alert to unheard dropped item
  • Alert to specific, trained environment sounds (alarms, baby crying, knocking, honking etc.)
  • Alert to bells
  • Alert to announcements

Alerts to physiological + psychological changes:

  • Alert to high blood sugar
  • Alert to low blood sugar
  • Alert to syncope episode
  • Alert to adrenaline dump
  • Alert to fatigue crash
  • Alert to rise in cortisol
  • Alert to seizure
  • Alert to migraine
  • Alert to panic attack
  • Alert handler to episodes of rage or strong emotion
  • Alert to dissociation
  • Alert to anxious behaviors

Other Alerts:

  • Alert to take medication (reminder)
  • Alert to person coming up behind
  • Alert to intruder
  • Alert to allergen in food
  • Alert to allergen in the area
  • Routine reminders (feed dog, eat meals, go to sleep, wake up, etc.)

Interruption Tasks:

Golden retriever with his mouth open wearing a light purple and grey service dog vest.

  • Interrupt crying
  • Interrupt dissociation
  • Interrupt flashback
  • Interrupt freezing behavior
  • Interrupt harmful behaviors
  • Interrupt nightmare
  • Interrupt panic/anxiety attack
  • Interrupt repetitive behaviors
  • Interrupt scratching/skin picking
  • Lick face/hands

Opening/Closing Tasks:

  • Answer door
  • Open doors (handicapped button)
  • Open doors (pulling open using a tug)
  • Open doors (pushing open with nose or paws)
  • Open sliding door
  • Open/close cabinet/drawer
  • Open/close bathroom door
  • Open/close dishwasher
  • Open/close refrigerator

Retrieving Tasks:

Mini Aussie with blue eyes and tan, grey, white and black fur wearing a service dog vest

  • Retrieve clothing items (teach your dog to retrieve)
  • Retrieve dog bowls
  • Retrieve dropped items
  • Retrieve emergency medication
  • Retrieve self care kit
  • Retrieve items when pointed to
  • Retrieve water/juice/gatorade/etc..
  • Retrieve mobility aid (wheelchair, cane, walker, etc.)
  • Retrieve named items
  • Retrieve phone
  • Retrieve purse/wallet
  • Retrieve shoes
  • Retrieve tissue (when crying, sneezing, coughing)
  • Retrieve towel (after shower, bath)
  • Retrieve tv remote
  • Retrieve vest/harness/leash/gear
  • Retrieve item from store shelf
  • Retrieve mail or newspaper

Getting Help:

  • Bark for help on command
  • Alert family member
  • Alert stranger for help
  • Go find help/specific person
  • Call 911 on a dog-friendly phone
  • Call a pre-programmed number on a dog-friendly phone
  • Call suicide hotline on a dog-friendly phone

Guiding Tasks:

  • Guiding
  • Indicate barrier (while guiding)
  • Indicate curbs (while guiding)
  • Indicate drop-offs (while guiding)
  • Indicate stairs/steps (while guiding)
  • Avoid moving objects (while guiding)
  • Lead around ground hazards (while guiding)
  • Lead around low hanging items (while guiding)
  • Lead around stationary items (while guiding)
  • Guide home
  • Guide to an exit
  • Guide to specific item
  • Guide to specific location
  • Guide to specific person
  • Guide to a safe place
  • Guide to a bathroom
  • Guide to stairs/elevator/Escalator
  • Guide to  the car
  • Find empty seat
  • Follow designated person
  • Find handler (runners, wanderers, lost handler)
  • Refuse to move if not safe (busy road, away from home, etc.)
  • Block from moving towards danger (busy road, away from home, etc.)

Provision Tasks:

English Creme Golden Retriever wearing a rainbow service dog vest and leash in front of an old wooden door.

  • Provide distraction
  • Provide excuse to leave uncomfortable situation
  • Cover
  • Block
  • Check the room
  • Clear a room
  • Crowd control (circling)
  • Light pressure therapy
  • Tactile Stimulation
  • Deep pressure therapy
  • Lay across chest of seizing handler to reduce duration of seizure
  • Covering body of handler to assist with temperature regulation
  • Provide pressure on chest to produce cough
  • Push floor button to turn on lamp
  • Push paralyzed limb back into place

Carrying/Holding Tasks:

  • Carry grocery bags
  • Carry purse
  • Carry items up or down stairs
  • Drag heavy items to specific location
  • Drag laundry basket
  • Deliver credit card or money to a cashier
  • Deliver items from cashier to handler
  • Bring a note to person
  • Deliver item to person

Mobility Tasks: Bandogge Mastiff wearing a service dog patch collar looking away from camera

  • Assist with position changes (sitting to standing, laying to sitting, etc.)
  • Help sit up if slumped over
  • Help with turning over
  • Roll handler his/her side (by nudging, pulling clothing)
  • Counter-balance
  • Forward momentum (in a wheelchair)
  • Forward momentum (when walking)
  • Provide momentum up inclines
  • Provide momentum up stairs
  • Pull Wheelchair
  • Bracing
  • Help handler into bathtub or shower
  • Help handler out of bathtub or shower
  • Pull handler with strap (to change positions)
  • Help putting on dog gear

Daily Help:

  • Turn off lights (with paw, nose or teeth)
  • Turn on lights (with paw, nose or teeth)
  • Closing Doors (pulling closed with a tug or with nose or paws)
  • Pull blankets off/on
  • Pull blinds/curtains closed/open
  • Help put clothing on
  • Help remove clothing
  • Clean up items on the floor (put in basket)
  • Clean up and throw away trash (put in wastebasket)
  • Unload grocery items
  • Unload items from the washer or dryer
  • Close washer/dryer (with paw or nose)
  • Close Bathroom stall
  • Assist with making bed

Anything else?

Any other service dog work or tasks you would want to add to this list? Comment below!

Hi! I'm Megann!

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