Training a service dog while using mobility equipment is not always easy. Whether you use a wheelchair, walker, crutches or any other mobility device to get around you know it can be difficult to figure out how or where you will attach your service dog. Are you going to attach you service dog to your mobility equipment or to yourself? That is an important question to answer. We as users of mobility equipment need to make sure we have full control of our service dogs. As a power wheelchair user myself, I'm going to go over a few options that work for me and a couple of my friends.
Canine Coach Ashlynn is working a fully trained older Service Dog and also has a Service Dog in Training. Her leash set varies based on the dog, their training, and ability to focus. This first picture is of Ashlynn's power wheelchair setup with her Service Dog Lilly. She has her dog's leash attached to her power wheelchairs arm rest. The dog leash is attached with a carabiner clip and the leash is just long enough to connect to the back clip of a Service Dog and allow the dog to walk in a heel and move in front or behind the chair if needed.
This next picture is of my power wheelchair setup. Like Ashlynn I also attach my dogs leash to the arm of my power wheelchair using a carabiner clip. I have an o ring and double eye swivel hook attached to the carabiner clip. I also use a leash that has a double clip that attaches to my service dog's harness. Her harness has a front and a back leash clip on it. This helps my dog learn to walk next to my power wheelchair keeping her from running in front of it where she could possibly get hurt.
Unclipping the leash in front, allows a service dog to go behind the power wheelchair when the dog is needing to. For example, Michael, prefers his service dog Belle to walk behind his power wheelchair while he goes down his van ramp. Here is a video of his service dog Belle going down the van ramp behind him and his power wheelchair.
As you can see there is several different ways you can attach your service dog to your power wheelchair.
On the next blog I will be focusing on how to attach a service dog to manual wheelchairs, walkers, and crutches. I will go over how to teach your service dogs to walk with you while using manual wheelchairs, walkers and crutches. I will also go over how to maneuver a service dog in tight spaces using these mobility devices.