Archive for the ‘Psychiatric Service Dog’ Category

Do you have psychological or emotional disorder that make it difficult to live a normal life? If so, you may qualify for a Psychiatric Service Dog. To learn how to register your dog as a Psychiatric Service Dog, keep reading.

A Psychiatric Service Dog is a type of Service Dog trained to do specific tasks for the individual with a mental or emotional disability. This can include waking up their handler, alerting the handler that a panic attack is coming, and calming their handler when they are experiencing distress.

Based on your personal condition and your disability, you may be able to train and use your current pet as your Psychiatric Service Dog.

In this article, we will review the tasks and training required for your Psychiatric Service Dog, as well as the registration process. Below is a summary of how to register your Psychiatric Service Dog:

How to Register your Psychiatric Service Dog

Step 1 – Behavior Check

A Psychiatric Service Dog (PSD) is a type of service animal and is held to the same standards as other service dogs. Not all dogs have the proper temperament to become a PSD. Make sure your PSD is well mannered and in your control at all times.

Step 2 – Training

Training is essential. Train your dog to provide a service for your mental or emotional disability. Follow this link for tips on how you can train your service dog.  

Step 3 – Registration

Register your Psychiatric Service Dog on Service Dog Certifications. Registering your service dog is not federally mandated and should only be done if you deem it necessary. Especially PSD handlers with invisible disabilities may prefer to carry a Psychiatric Service Dog Identification Card to clearly signal their animal is a Service Dog. It may avoid confrontations and discrimination.

Step 4 – Practice

After you receive your identification card, certificate, and/or vest. Practice informing your friends and family that your animal is a service dog, not a pet. If your service dog is not used to wearing a vest, have them wear it around the house or at the park, so they become accustomed. Once you feel comfortable, try going out in public and see how you do. It’s okay to go slow.

Registering Your Psychiatric Service Dog

Registering your psychiatric service dog can provide a layer of privacy and protection when out in public. The identification card and vest signal to others that your animal is a medical device and should be by your side at all times.

Although it is not a legal requirement, registering your Service Dog can eliminate any confusion you may have in public places.

In addition, although not legally required, you may want to have a letter from your doctor stating your disability and a note from your veterinarian stating your dog is in good health. With this documentation handy, you can feel more confident and calm.

Another option available to you is to register your Psychiatric Service Dog online. You can do this by completing a form, uploading your dog’s picture, and paying a fee. Once your dog is registered, you will be provided with identification in the form of a vest for your dog, a certificate, and an ID card.

Get a Psychiatric Service Dog and Live Your Life

If you have a mental or emotional disability and believe a Psychiatric Service Dog may help you, start the process today. Whether you purchase a dog that has already been trained or you have trained your dog yourself, having a canine supporter can help you live a fulfilling life again.

Do psychiatric service dogs need training? Yes, they do. But because psychiatric service dogs (PSD) often are confused with emotional animal support animals (ESA), people sometimes assume that PSD’s aren’t trained. While psychiatric service dogs help people with mental or emotional disorders, just like ESAs, they receive extensive training to learn vital skills that will enable them to assist their handlers with particular, often life-saving tasks. Read on to know what that entails and how to train a psychiatric service dog.

What Is a Psychiatric Service Dog?

Psychiatric service dogs, a specialized sub-category of service animals, are all trained in a variety of functions specifically for their handlers’ disabilities. In the case of psychiatric service dogs, they assist people with psychological or emotional disorders. For example, a psychiatric service dog who helps a child with autism might perform the following tasks:

Flip on light switches before a child enters a room to reduce fears of the dark.  Place his head against the child to provide comfort during an outburst. Bark for assistance is a child begins to self-harm or starts to wander away.

Unlike ESAs, psychiatric service dogs undergo months—sometimes years—of training to perform these tasks that keep their handler safe. 

Training a Psychiatric Service Dog 

Although psychiatric service dogs can receive training through outsourced professional trainers, a handler can choose to train a dog themselves. Training a service dog independently, though time-consuming, can reduce overall costs and create a stronger bond between the service dog and its handler. Here are a few basic steps on how psychiatric service dogs are trained:

1. Determine What Tasks Are Needed

Before starting on the journey of training a service dog, it’s important to assess what tasks are necessary to perform. A physician or a licensed mental health professional can determine if a psychiatric service dog is necessary and what tasks a handler might need to be accomplished. Once there’s an idea of what skills are required, finding the right service dog comes next. 

2. Find the Right Dog 

Most professional service dog organizations breed dogs for the right temperament and intelligence. Because a service dog’s job is critical to a person’s health, and the tasks are so demanding, not every dog can become a service dog

No matter how excellent a dog’s training might be, they won’t succeed as a service dog if they don’t have the ideal temperament. When looking for a dog to train as a service dog, look for reputable breeders who specialize in service dogs. When choosing a dog, the following traits are an advantage:

Social with people and other dogs Alert and attentive  Does not startle  Likes to be held 3. Encourage Socialization Skills

Once the right dog is found, it’s essential to socialize them with people and other animals. By exposing a dog to new environments prepares them to tolerate different scenarios. This means interacting with the dog extensively, taking the dog outside, and getting them comfortable in different surroundings. Dogs that are anxious or agitated, especially around new people and places, typically do not make good service dogs. Fostering a dog’s comfort levels in varying locations encourages the making of a successful service dog. 

4. Begin Training for Basic Skills

Starting a dog on basic skills provides a good foundation for more in-depth tasks. These beginning commands also give the trainer a good idea of how well a dog takes direction. Basic obedience commands for a dog to follow include: 

Stay Heel Sit Come Drop Leave  Training a psychiatric service dog starts with basic skill training and is completed once the dog masters specific task training. 5. Hone Public Access Skills

After a service dog-in-training understands basic obedience commands, it’s time to practice public access skills in random environments. These areas include parks, pet stores, outdoor restaurants, and other places to acclimate the dog to a broad range of external stimuli. Allowing a dog to get used to new surroundings helps keep a service dog calmer in the long run. 

Because service dogs follow their handlers everywhere, it’s essential that a dog be well-behaved in public—for the sake of the public and the dog. Also, every service dog is a representative of service dogs everywhere. Service dogs are well-regarded because of their exemplary public access skills, and having a well-behaved service dog honors that tradition. 

6. Individual Response Training

Once a service dog-in-training is ready to start their psychiatric task training, they already have their basic skills and public access fine-tuned. This way, they can utilize their public access and basic skills while using their individual response skills. Repetition and positive feedback help to make the process flow much more smoothly. 

Of course, this stage of training depends entirely on the tasks required for the dog to fulfill. Here are a few examples of tasks

If the dog needs to obtain medication during a psychiatric emergency—like a panic attack—the dog can obtain a bag or pouch containing the medication. Ensure the bag is always easily recognizable and that the medication is kept in the same bag at all times.  A dog can help a person during an autistic outburst in a case of sensory overload by performing reality affirmation tasks like nudging a person or patting a person’s leg during an attack. The dog must learn to recognize cues when such a situation occurs, depending on its handler’s needs. People with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) may need help to leave an area that overwhelms them. Dogs can receive training to find and lead their handler to the nearest exit.  Progress of Training a Psychiatric Service Dogs

When working with any service dog-in-training, it helps to keep a training log. Training logs enable a trainer to review a dog’s progress and address any problem areas. These logs can also serve as proof that the psychiatric service dog has received training.

Just like other service dogs, psychiatric service dogs improve the longer they remain with their handler. Dogs are intuitive and enjoy repetition, making them natural ideal animals to work closely with humans. As “man’s best friend,” there’s no better animal than a dog to help someone through tough times. But it may take time and patience to fully train a psychiatric service dog to assist their handler at their best.

No other animal has the same kind of relationship with humans as dogs have. Over years of evolution, dogs have adapted to give companionship and loyalty to their handler. They have become so attuned to humans’ needs that they can take on roles to improve a person’s life; some even become an individual’s life-saving partner. Even though every dog is valuable, not every dog breed performs the same, as you’ll see in this list of the 10 best psychiatric service dog breeds.

The Skills of a Man’s Best Friend

Dogs’ evolution alongside our own has enabled them to attend to our needs uniquely. Dogs can read our emotions and have the cognitive ability to understand human cues, which makes them the ideal animal companion. Because of their special skills, humans also use dogs to assist them with work and daily activities. Service dogs receive special training to perform tasks that people with disabilities or disorders can’t do on their own. 

One kind of service dog is a psychiatric service dog (PSD). A PSD is explicitly trained to perform tasks for an individual with a mental health disorder. They master tasks that could prevent or intervene in potentially dangerous or harmful behavior caused by an individuals’ emotional or mental disorder. This training turns a psychiatric service dog into a necessary and life-saving medical assistant.

Breeds That Make Great Psychiatric Service Dogs

Because psychiatric service dogs work closely with people who may have mental or emotional problems, there are unique traits that these dogs should possess. The following are ten dog breeds that have the qualities necessary to do the job:

1. Havanese

The Havanese breed may be small in size—the largest they grow is about 13 pounds—but it has a big personality. These dogs enjoy being close to their owners, are enthusiastic about training, and extra attentive to their surroundings. All these traits make them exceptional psychiatric service dogs. Because the Havanese is eager to perform tasks, they respond quickly to behavioral issues like repetitive or harmful actions. They’re also highly intelligent, which helps them to sense mood changes in their handlers. 

2. Labrador Retriever

Labrador Retrievers can perform in many service dog roles because of their sharp intellect and calm nature. As a psychiatric service dog, Labrador Retrievers work excellently with children who have autism, gently preventing the child they’re watching from wandering away or harming themselves. Their intelligence makes Labrador Retrievers easy to train, allowing them to learn a variety of tasks quickly. 

3. German Shepherd

Most people have probably seen a German Shepherd working as a police dog. This breed is often tasked with critical jobs because they’re extraordinarily reliable, dependable, and calm. Even in chaotic or new environments, a well-trained German Shepherd can focus on their task at hand, making them helpful during a psychiatric crisis. 

4. Lhasa Apso 

With its long, silky fur and waterfall of a tail, the Lhasa Apso might look like an elegant and swanky dog. But don’t let their good looks fool you; this breed is more than just a cute canine. Lhasa Apsos have an ancient and spiritual history, bred by Tibetan monks to serve as indoor watchdogs. Their attentive nature and cheerful personality make these dogs great psychiatric service dogs. 

5. Poodle

It might be difficult to take a Poodle seriously because of their adorable curls. However, poodles are intelligent and highly trainable. As psychiatric service dogs, they are very attuned to their handler’s emotions, allowing them to intervene quickly when necessary. Their hypoallergenic hair makes them a great choice for homes with someone who may be allergic to fur. 

6. Boxer

Like German Shepherds, Boxers are also a go-to breed when people are looking for service or working dogs. Smaller than German Shepherds, Boxers are considered medium-sized dogs and are perfect for people who want a solid but smaller dog. Boxers are eager to please and learn quickly. Although vigilant, Boxers are a calm and good-natured breed, making them ideal as psychiatric service dogs. 

7. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

There’s an old soul in the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, making them calm and collected. They’re also loyal and attentive to their owners and bond closely with them, making them ideal psychiatric service dogs for people who struggle with depression or PTSD. Their high level of intelligence enables them to identify and intervene when they see harmful or atypical behaviors in their handlers. 

8. Doberman

Most people are familiar with Dobermans in their role as working dogs for the police, but they also make outstanding psychiatric service dogs. Although Dobermans have a reputation for being tough watchdogs, they can be affectionate and loyal. Their solid frames and size allow them to gently step in to prevent a psychiatric crisis or prevent dangerous behaviors. 

9. Border Collie

Border Collies are photogenic and attractive dogs, but they’re more than just a pretty face. According to the Border Collie Society of America, Border Collies are highly trainable. They also go on to state that this breed has the “uncanny ability to reason.” This trait is what makes the Border Collie inordinately suitable as a psychiatric service dog. 

10. Miniature Schnauzer

The Miniature Schnauzer’s odd-ball looks are eye-catching, but their quirky personalities can light someone’s day. They’re hugely popular with children and are easy to train, making them perfect psychiatric service dogs for autistic or anxious young people. Highly adaptable and attentive, these dogs can assist in any environment. 

Psychiatric Service Dogs Are More Than a Best Friend

Though it’s true that most pets provide their owners with companionship and can improve mental health, not all dogs can be psychiatric service dogs. To qualify as a psychiatric service dog, a dog undergoes extensive skills training to perform a specific task that a person with a mental or emotional disorder can not do for themselves. These dogs help their handlers live healthier and happier lives through their daily service. Psychiatric service dogs are more than pets and much more than a best-friend—they are life-savers.