Wheelchair assistance dogs: Faithful companions with your mobility

Have you ever had a broken arm and had to do everything “left handed”? Was that easy? Certainly not. How good if someone could give you a hand, right? There are many diseases and disabilities that severely limit the physical mobility and thus the everyday life of the. Affected people are then dependent on help.

LPF dogs can also provide this assistance. They not only provide companionship, but can relieve their humans of many tasks, making everyday life easier. Here you can read about what these dogs do.

LPF assistance dogs – helpers in everyday life

LPF dogs are dogs that substitute life skills. But what is behind the unwieldy term “practical life skills”? Basically, all the little things that each of us does every day without much thought or effort: Picking up a handkerchief from the floor. Open a door. Turn on a light switch. We get dressed in the morning, even that requires a whole series of movements and hand movements.

There are people for whom such everyday movements are not so easy or completely impossible. Many congenital or acquired disabilities such as spina bifida or paraplegia, numerous (progressive) diseases such as Parkinson’s or multiple sclerosis, or simply old age with signs of wear and tear can severely limit mobility and thus the ability to shape one’s own life. Affected people need help getting up, getting dressed, shopping, cleaning up, etc. In addition, they often cannot easily leave their home on their own.

A senior woman in wheelchair with LPF assistance dog on autumn meadow
With assistance dog improve the personal possibilities of limited people.

These are the tasks an LPF assistance dog can perform

A trained LPF assistance dog can make everyday life easier for people who are ill. He is trained exactly to the needs of his human. Does this one ever get dizzy while walking? The dog does not leave his side and supports him when necessary. Is his person in a wheelchair and can not move freely? No problem – the dog picks up dropped objects, takes off socks, opens and closes doors, operates light switches. The dog owner is suddenly not well? His dog can activate the emergency beeper and open the door for the rescue workers. There is hardly a task, other than grooming, that an LPF dog can’t learn to make his human’s life easier.

LPF dogs enable social contact

People with visible disabilities are often shunned and do not easily come into contact with other people. A companion dog immediately attracts the focus and touches passers-by emotionally. The responsible job as an assistance dog also often triggers interest. People then no longer look pityingly, but interested. Maybe even ask. This experience of social contact can be very beneficial for affected people.

An LPF assistance dog therefore offers the possibility of a more independent life, more mobility and contacts in everyday life and thus also relieves relatives and caregivers.

How does a dog become an LPF assistance dog and how much does it cost?

An LPF assistance dog is ideally trained from puppyhood. The earlier he meets his future human in the process, the better this is for building the bond and learning specific tasks. The care and training of the future professional helper on four paws should therefore take place, if possible, together with its future owner under the guidance of an assistance dog trainer. Sometimes this requires assistance from third parties, such as family members.

I can help you! For sure :-)
It takes about 2 years for the puppy to become an LPF assistance dog professional.

By the way, “assistance dog trainer” is not a protected designation. So it’s worth taking a close look. Does the trainer have experience or good references? Or has he completed appropriate training at an institute, such as the Training Center for Assistance Dogs. It is also important to make the training positive. The four-legged helper should finally enjoy working with and for people, so rough training methods and punishments have no place in training!

What does the dog learn in training?

The puppy first learns the usual basic obedience along with some commands that may also be useful in later work. These contain commands such as “come”, “sit”, “down”, “stop”, “stand” or “wait”. Playfully teaching “bring” and “give” is also easy with a puppy.

He learns about different situations such as crowds, street noises, different surfaces, traffic and transportation. He also practices moving adapted to a wheelchair or crutches, for example, always staying to one side, walking ahead or following.

If the LPF dog is trained from puppyhood, the dog owner and his trainer can work out their own set of rules for training because the puppy is still “a blank slate”.

Can your own dog still be trained as well?

Even adult dogs can still be trained – a well-trained, older dog definitely has its advantages.

Sick dog owners often wish that their pet could provide them with more assistance as the disease progresses. The two usually already have a good bond with each other and the dog knows the common basic commands. Then there is nothing against training your own dog together with an assistance dog trainer.

A man squats next to his dog and hugs it, the dog sniffs its face
Adult dogs can also be trained to become assistance dogs.

How long does the training take and who pays for it?

Generally, it takes about 18-24 months to train a puppy to become a finished LPF assistance dog. If an adult dog is being trained, the duration may be shorter, depending on the dog’s existing level of training. The costs can reach 20,000-30,000 EUR, which are usually not covered by health insurance. But you can try to get a case-by-case decision there.

There are also foundations that have made it their mission to seek sponsors and donors so that more people with disabilities can have an assistance dog. Some of them I link to you here:

Dogs Help Heal Foundation

Dogs for handicaps

Peter Raum Foundation

Where can I get an assistance and service dog trained?

One of the addresses you can contact is the above mentioned training center for assistance dogs or also the Servicehunde Mitteldeutschland.

What requirements must a dog have for this job?

Puppies to be trained as LPF assistance dogs must be physically healthy and mentally stable. They must be free of skeletal diseases such as HD and must not be aggressive or have a high hunting instinct.

There are no breed restrictions, however, an assistance dog that will later be expected to provide physically demanding services such as help with standing up, support for dizziness, and more should be at least medium in size. That is why especially breeds like Retrievers are very popular, but also Australia Shepherds or designer breeds like Doodles are well suited.

Character-wise, the future helpers should be rather calm, but not sluggish. A stable nervous system and yet a certain sensitivity are needed to recognize the needs of the owner and also to take the initiative if the worst comes to the worst, for example, if an emergency call has to be made. Openness to new things and friendliness towards people and other animals are equally important. The dog should also basically enjoy working with people.

What requirements do you have to meet yourself if you want to have an LPF assistance dog?

If you suffer from a physical impairment that severely limits your everyday life, like dogs and can imagine having your future helper around you 24 hours a day in the future, the prerequisites for a future with an assistance dog are basically already fulfilled.

A dog at the vet looks happily at the camera, the vet in the background
It is important: all the needs of the four-legged helper must also be met.

In addition, the care and fulfillment of the needs of the dog must be guaranteed at all times. This means you can take care of him completely yourself, doing walks, feeding, play, grooming, vet visits, and have someone to step in for emergencies. Or your family/roommates/caregivers agree and will take care of your dog if necessary. If you are suffering from a progressive disease, third parties need to be increasingly involved. And this for about the next 15 years. This must be clear to everyone involved. So think well in advance whether a dog would be an enrichment or rather a burden for your life.


LPF assistance dogs are, after guide dogs, the second most common assistance dogs and can be a great asset and help in the life of a physically disabled person. They perform countless small but important tasks in everyday life.

They also have a positive effect on their owner’s psychological well-being and social interaction in public. Thus, they improve the quality of life of their human enormously. In return, the latter must always make sure that the needs of his faithful helper are met in a manner appropriate to the species. Then both can be a real dream team.

If you want even more information around legal requirements and entitlements, check out the nonprofit organization Paw Paw Pilots.

Can you imagine an assistance dog enriching your life?

Or even live with one? Tell us what is most important to you.

We and our readers are always happy to receive inspiring comments.


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