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Autism Service Dogs in Minnesota

Updated on October 3, 2012

Service Dogs in Minnesota

Not all Service Dogs learn to use escalators (as elevators are always available, too), but this one was especially brave, and after training, had no trouble at all.
Not all Service Dogs learn to use escalators (as elevators are always available, too), but this one was especially brave, and after training, had no trouble at all.

Learning to heel

Pawsitivity: Changing Lives, One Dog At a Time

Autism is a troubling developmental disability, but there are treatments to help children learn empathy, interact with others, develop language skills, and cope with stress. One therapy is the use of service dogs, and Pawsitivity in the Minneapolis, MN area trains assistance dogs for children with autism.


  • Wandering off
    One of the most difficult symptoms of autism is that children often wander off, or even bolt off, requiring their parents to hold their hand constantly during family outings. This problem can be helped with a trained service dog in several ways. A child may be tethered to the dog, the dog can be trained to find the child, the dog can alert the parents if a child wants to wander off, and the dog can wear a GPS transponder. Especially difficult can be the child who gets insomnia and wanders off at night, and with an Autism Service Dog, the parents can sleep much easier, knowing that the dog is sleeping with the child and is always ready to prevent wandering and alert the parents.
  • Social skills
    A child with autism usually has difficulty relating to others and is often in their own world. This lack of social skills can result not only in a sad and lonely child, but with this isolation, the child is losing out on opportunities to further their social skills. A well-trained dog acts like a "kid magnet", though, and since questions about the service dog tend to run along the same lines each time, the child can be taught stock answers and get to practice these answers with many different people. Both children and adults start to see the autistic child as a person, not just someone who is different, and can then relate to the child more because they have this subject to talk about.
  • Helping with "melt-downs"
    Children with autism often have difficulty controlling their emotions, and when they don't understand what is going wrong in their life, they can have tantrums that may even turn violent. The touch of the service dog's fur can be quite calming, however, and the dog can be trained to put their head on their lap, further soothing them. Instead of the parent being the only calming source, the service dog can help with this role, either helping the parent, or serving as an immediate tool for the child who wants to calm down.
  • Education
    Most autistic children have difficulty with language skills, but are quite good at visual learning. A dog uses body language to communicate, and whether it is wagging a tail to indicate happiness or lowering their ears to indicate submission, a child can start by reading these non-verbal cues, and then slowly learn to read cues by much more complicated human beings.
  • Empathy
    An autistic child's lack of social skills and inability to read faces can prevent empathy from forming, but by working with a service dog, who is much less complicated than a human being, they can learn skills of empathy. For instance, when a dog pants, the child can learn that the dog is thirsty, and be taught to bring them water.

Many autistic children connect much easier with animals than they do with humans, and by having a trained service dog with them, they can learn social skills, improve language skills, and learn to sooth themselves when upset.

Pawsitivity Service Dogs

A markerPawsitivity Service Dogs -
197 Griggs St N, St Paul, MN 55104, USA
get directions

Training assistance dogs for children with autism, helping with wandering off, soothing the child, empathy, social skills, and more.


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    • Lipnancy profile image

      Nancy Yager 6 years ago from Hamburg, New York

      Very lovely hub. I enjoyed it very much.