It's International Assistance Dog Week and we've put together eleven interesting facts about assistance dogs that you might not know.

And, if you're looking for a service dog, we've listed some great organisations who could help you find one.

1. There are three types of service dogs.

According to Assistance Dogs International, there are three different types of service dogs:

  • Guide dogs who are for the blind and visually impaired
  • Hearing dogs who are for the Deaf and hard of hearing
  • Service dogs who are for disabled people generally

2. More than 7,000 people in the UK rely on an assistance dog.

According to Guide Dogs UK, there are over 7,000 people across the UK currently relying on an assistance dog. In their film below, they detail what types of services guide dogs in particular provide.

3. You shouldn't pet a service dog while it's working.

It might be tempting, but petting a service dog while their working could distract them from something incredibly vital. Guide Dogs UK produced a handy guide on how to approach a guide dog and their owner.

4. You can foster or be a puppy parent for a potential assistance dog.

Even if you don't need an assistance dog, you can still volunteer to foster or be a puppy parent to one puppy with a destiny to help. Canine Partners have more information on fostering an assistance dog.

5. Almost half of guide dog owners have been refused access to services.

According to a survey of Guide Dog owners, 49% had been refused services such as taxis, shops and restaurants because of their assistance dog, despite having a legal right to those services. Guide Dogs UK is running an Access All Areas campaign which can provide resources for people with service dogs who have been turned away.

6. If you can't foster, you can become a puppy walker.

Fostering isn't always an option for everyone, but walking a puppy can provide great exercise, get you outside, and help a good cause. Become a puppy walker for Guide Dogs.

7. Hearing dogs can help deaf children wake up for school and feel more confident.

The video below explains how the National Deaf Children's Society helped one child find a hearing dog who wakes her up for school, helps her with her homework and helps her communicate with her parents.

8. Hearing dogs can also help adults.

Hearing Dogs for Deaf People show how hearing dogs are trained to help adults who are Deaf or hard of hearing answer the door, respond to texts and even warn them about critical smoke alarms.

9. Assistance dogs help people and children with autism express and regulate emotions.

Support Dogs show how Elizabeth's support dog Oyster helps her regulate her emotions and cope with stressful situations. Last year, we wrote about our friends at Autism Life Dogs and how their dogs can support people with autism.

10. Dogs aren't just for individuals.

Dogs for Good offer community dogs who can provide assistance to schools and other projects where an assistance dog could be helpful.

11. Dogs can also be trained to detect cancer.

Medical detection dogs are trained to sniff out everything from breast cancer to lung cancer and more. The Medical Detection Dogs charity demonstrates how these dogs are trained:

Do you need a dog?

If you need an assistance dog, there are a number of great UK based organisations that can offer support:

If you don't need a dog, why not become a puppy walker or a fosterer? Walking a dog can be a great way to make new friends and socialise.

Read some of our tips on making friends on a dog walk