Walker Dogs and Parkinson’s Disease

A special breed of service dogs.

Parkinson’s disease is a degenerative disorder of the center nervous system. It often

impairs the sufferer’s motor skills and speech, as well as other functions.

Parkinson’s disease or PD belongs to a group of conditions called movement disorders.

Movement disorders are characterized by muscle rigidity, tremors, a slowing of physical

movement (bradykinesia) and, in extreme cases, a loss of physical movement (akinesia).

One type of akinesia is gait freezing. This is an inability to move your feet, especially

seen while walking in tight or crowded spaces. This is a common problem for most persons

suffering with PD.

For individuals that suffer with gait freezing there is a special service dog trained just for


Walker dogs assist their owners in several ways. These living canes help with balance

and gait while walking. If gait freezing occurs, they are taught to touch their owner’s feet with

their paws. The dog will continue this light touch until their owner starts to walk again. Also if

their owner should fall they are trained to act as a brace to help them regain a standing position.

Because of the nature of their duties, a larger breed dog is usually needed. Great

Danes are widely popular. Unfortunately, because of their great size they have a shorter life span

than other large breed dogs. This is the only drawback to using these wonderful creatures.

As with all other service dogs, walker dogs, are allowed were other dogs are not. Such as

public transportation, restaurants, hotels, grocery stores and other public places. While working

the walker dog must wear a special vest with Service Dog written on it.

In the United States, the Americans with Disabilities Act is a law guaranteeing the right

of disabled persons to have their service dogs with them at all time. If access is denied the

federal and some state laws have heavy penalties that may be brought against any business

denying access.

Walker dogs may be a little known branch of the service dog family but for Parkinson’s

disease suffers they are a Godsend miracle.


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Published in: Pets


RSSComments: 12  |  Post a Comment
  1. This was another side-bar for In Love and In Service. I added and make some changes. Hope you enjoy it. I first learned about Walker Dogs from Animal Planet, a show called K- 9 to 5, that told stories about working dogs.

  2. interesting and informative article about Parkinson’s, one of my favorite actor is inflicted by this disease-Michael J. Fox, it’s nice to know that there are service dogs that can help and asssist them anytime,anywhere,thank you

  3. That’s great, Pam! Dogs are just the best, whatever their breed.


  5. A dog is really a man’s best friend especially for someone with a disability.

  6. This is an isidious disease but I have learned something interesting.I didn’t know dogs were trained as helpers for those afflicted.

  7. Great article, my grandfather suffers from Parkinsons so I know all about this horrible disease. These dogs sound great though, I hadn’t heard about these.

  8. Thanks for the info. I had not heard of using dogs for PD.

  9. Good info, learned something today!

  10. I’d like more information. I’m trying to train my Great Pyranees pup to help me walk – she braces me walking up the front steps to the house, but is a pretty slow learner!


  11. These walker dogs have indeed help the patients. The presence of these dogs are much needed to ease patient’s life. :-)

  12. i have parkinsons disease level 3 out of 5 and i have a young dog called grace she is a rottweiler and is five and a half months old she is a blessing
    i never used to leave the house ( year and a half ) then along grace came she is now in the process of being trained as a parkinsons walker at the momment
    in england they are not to be seen very often if at all
    she walks with me at a snails pace all ways looking to see if i am ok
    yes i freeze and she pushes against me to nudge me into motion also she paces me next to me when i go up to bed and she does the same when i come down in the morning
    and this is just the begining
    why a rottweiler before i was told that i had parkinsons i had rottis for 27 years all boys never a girl dog until now
    the breed i have all ways found to my delight calm gentle and fantastic with children cats and parrots they are what you make them
    now the tables have turned grace is what she makes me
    but even with all her training when she is not working (you use the word working to put the dog into work mode and when she is not working i use the word tea break ) she is a typical youngster running around with her toys and being naughty to the point of bringing into the house pampas grass fronds and shaking them that makes a great mess but its a small price to pay for what she does for me
    if its possible for any parkinsons sufferer get a dog they are a blessing and rottis are strong loving and great with children easy to train and to please you
    lee castle
    lee castle

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