Service Dogs can play a vital role in helping people with cerebral palsy (CP) perform tasks and enhance their well-being. A Service Dog can assist with various tasks, like physical support and mobility assistance, and they can also provide emotional support and companionship. 


CP is a neurological disorder that affects movement and coordination. The symptoms make it hard for people with CP to perform everyday tasks. The condition can cause many symptoms, including:

  • Muscle stiffness
  • Weakness
  • Tremors
  • Seizures
  • Intellectual disabilities


How Service Dogs Help


Service Dogs can help people with CP feel more secure at home and in the community. The benefits of Service Dogs for people with CP are many, and they can make a significant difference in the lives of those who rely on them. 

  • Physical Assistance

For example, a Service Dog can help a person with CP stand from a sitting position or maintain their balance while walking. They can make people with CP feel safe getting in and out of bed. In addition, they can help with various tasks that a person with limited mobility can struggle with, like dressing, grooming, or bathing. They can also open doors, turn light switches on and off, and retrieve items out of reach.


A Service Dog can also help people with CP in the community. For instance, they can help people with CP feel more secure in public places, like grocery stores or restaurants — a huge relief for those who might otherwise face social isolation because they don’t want to feel embarrassed about always asking others for help. Additionally, Service Dogs can help people with CP navigate unfamiliar environments by leading them around obstacles or helping them navigate stairs.


  • Increased Exercise Levels

Exercise is essential for everyone but is a necessity for people with CP. Strong evidence suggests that exercise can improve muscle fitness, cardiorespiratory fitness, and joint ROM for adults with CP. One of the responsibilities of having a Service Dog is taking them for walks, which will also increase exercise levels for their owner.


  • Help Managing Stress and Anxiety

People living with CP may find it challenging to manage stress and anxiety. One of the many things Service Dogs can do is help their partner manage those feelings by providing companionship, reminding them to take medication and water (if housebound or bedridden), or alerting them when a seizure is about to occur.


  • Support Emotional Well-Being

Service Dogs can also help enhance the emotional well-being of people with CP. Having a Service Dog as a companion can provide a sense of security and reduce feelings of isolation and loneliness. They can also help reduce stress and anxiety by providing a sense of calm and companionship. For people with CP who may have difficulty communicating or interacting with others, this can be especially beneficial.


A study led by Purdue University’s College of Veterinary Medicine shows how Service Dogs can have measurable positive effects on the health and well-being of individuals with physical disabilities like CP. One of the study's major findings was how Service Dogs affect the psychosocial health of their handlers, which is an individual’s mental, emotional, and social well-being.


How to Obtain a Service Dog 


Educated Canines Assisting with Disabilities (ECAD) breeds Service Dogs and trains them as puppies. By the time they’re nine months, they know several commands. They then undergo extensive training for 18 to 24 months before they are matched with someone. 

Once a potential match has been identified, each person's final training is individualized. When a client arrives for team training, the dog has had up to 1,500 hours of training and socialization.


Help Us Change the Lives of People Living With CP (and Other Disabilities)


As well as being a trusted friend, a Service Dog can expand its partner’s motor abilities, granting them new independence and allowing them to get more out of life. Having a Service Dog by your side means you have more autonomy, can accomplish tasks that may otherwise be impossible, and enjoy a better quality of life. If you or a loved one has CP, contact Educated Canines Assisting with Disabilities to learn more or apply for a Service Dog.


Everyone can take part in helping people with disabilities with Service Dogs. Support us with a donation, bequest, planned giving, contributions to our wish list, or create a fundraiser. Your support can change someone’s life.