Perhaps more than any other type of assistance dog, mobility assistance dogs are what most people think of when they hear the term service dogs.
Mobility assistance dogs perform a variety of tasks for their human partners, like bumping the button on automatic doors, retrieving dropped items, and bringing out-of-reach objects to hand, such as a ringing phone. For dogs that will be placed with someone in a wheelchair, the animal can assist with pulling a wheelchair up a ramp if necessary. Other dogs may serve as a brace for people who are ambulatory, but suffer from balance and strength issues. With a properly retrofitted home, a mobility assistance dog can tug open doors, close them again, turn lights on and off, and summon help by finding another person in the house. In public, the mobility assistance dog is an invaluable helper, quietly serving its partner with tasks that would be difficult or impossible to do on their own.
In order to achieve maximum performance from a mobility assistance dog, frequent verbal rewards and encouragement is a must, as are play times—such as a game of fetch with a favorite toy. The mobility assistance dog who finds a human partner that is consistent in training, is willing to motivate and praise and set aside time for daily fun and genuine affection, is the dog who often works the hardest.