Archive for the ‘Service Dog Tips’ Category

Service Dogs are used for a variety of purposes, ranging from guiding individuals with visual impairments to notifying those with medical disorders of impending episodes. Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Service Dogs can also be used for those with mental illnesses, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and anxiety. These support animals fall under the category of Psychiatric Service Dogs.

Psychiatric Service Dogs are trained to complete specific tasks that aid a person with a mental illness. Emotional Support Animals provide a sense of security and comfort through their companionship.

Psychiatric Service Dogs should not be confused with Emotional Support Animals (ESA). Before a person looks for a dog, they must know the distinction in order to choose the best option for their needs. The difference between the two lies in the training.

How to get a Service Dog for anxiety

One of the most common reasons a person requests a Psychiatric Service Dog is for anxiety. In order to qualify for a Psychiatric Service Dog, an individual must first have an anxiety diagnosis from a medical health professional. Upon the diagnosis, the individual needs to either train or obtain a dog that meets ADA standards. These state that the Service Dog must be able to perform certain tasks to aid the person with a disability. Only after the dog meets these requirements, they will be ready to begin assisting their handlers. 

Comparison of (Psychiatric) Service Dog, ESA and Therapy Dog Where to get a Service Dog for anxiety

Psychiatric Service Dogs need to be specially trained to assist a person with debilitating anxiety in order to detect when their handlers will need assistance. These dogs can be trained independently by the owner or can be bought through an organization that raises and trains dogs to support people with mental health needs. Some organizations train all types of Service Dogs, while others specifically produce Psychiatric Service Dogs.

At this time, it is not necessary to register a dog as a Service Dog. However, certain organizations have national registries that can provide documentation and identification for the dog. 

Service Dog at home How to train a Service Dog for anxiety

A Psychiatric Service Dog will best suit its handler when it’s trained to complete tasks that assist their handler with their disability. In order to meet these standards, the dog must have demeanors that allow them to be trained to follow their handler’s commands.

Young Service Dog in training

Traits that a psychiatric Service Dog should have include:

Capability to learn basic obedience skills, such as sit, lay down, and stay No signs of aggression Calm demeanor with no hyperactivity  Ability to ignore distractions in public Doesn’t jump or lunge at others

If a dog obtains these qualities, they will likely have the ability to learn their handler’s tasks and qualify to become a Service Dog. An individual can take training upon themselves, or hire an organization to perform the training. 

Service Dog tasks for anxiety

A person with severe anxiety may not be able to complete various tasks needed to go through everyday life. In these moments, a Psychiatric Service Dog may be able to step in and assist their handler. Here are some basic tasks that can be beneficial to a person with anxiety:

Identifying distress related to anxiety  Calming down their handler during an anxiety attack Retrieving medication Applying pressure to their handler to relieve stress  Retrieving a telephone Notifying others if they sense their handler needs additional assistance 

The tasks that the dog is trained to perform will depend on what is valuable to the individual person. Not all dogs need to learn all tasks, and not all tasks will be helpful to every person. Each individual needs to determine how their dog can help them, and train them accordingly.  

Man and his Service Dog side by side Best Service Dog breeds for anxiety 

Certain dog breeds exhibit specific traits that are beneficial for Service Dogs. For example, dogs are easier to train if they’re naturally intelligent. They should be calm and even-tempered in order to stay focused and on task at home and in public. They should be eager to please and happy to work for their handler. Not all dog breeds fit these prerequisites, but the ones that do excel as Psychiatric Service Dog.

Among the more suitable Psychiatric Service Dog breeds are:

Labrador Retriever  German Shepherd  Border Collie Golden Retriever 

With patience and proper training, a dog can be taught to become the Service Dog a person with anxiety needs. Having a properly trained Psychiatric Service Dog will allow the individual to live their lives without having to worry about being limited by anxiety. 

Service Dogs are protected by the Federal Government under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Information about the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Service Dogs are not pets and they are not emotional support animals.

Explain why a Service Dog is not the same as an Emotional Support Animal.

A service dog is a medical tool and as such have public access rights.

Service Dogs are permitted public access as they allow their handler to live a full life despite their disabilities.

Places Service Dogs have access to include: Restaurants Grocery Stores Office or any place of work Beaches National Parks Coffee Shops Farmers Markets No-pet apartments Hotels Movie Theaters Rideshare and taxis How to Prevent Service Dog Discrimination

Education is the most important tool to prevent Service Dog discrimination. Once you are aware of the guidelines the ADA has set out for Service Dogs, you can communicate with a Service Dog handler without accidental discrimination.

Questions that you can ask about a Service Dog – Is that a Service Dog? What Services does your Service Dog provide? Questions you are not permitted to ask about a Service Dog – Can you have your Service Dog perform the task? What disability do you have? You are permitted to request a Service Dog leave the property if – Service Dog is causing a disturbance and will not stop Service Dog is threatening others You are not permitted to deny a Service Dog access, even if – Someone is scared of dogs or uncomfortable with the dog’s breed You have a no-pet policy If you are a Service Dog handler and need to report Service Dog discrimination –

To report discrimination, you may contact the US Department of Justice directly. Contact the ADA Information Line at 1-800-514-0301 (voice) or 1-800-514-0383 (TTY) to schedule an appointment.

The ADA might take up to 2 weeks to get back to you so this is not to be used for causes of immediate emergency. If you or your Service Dog is being threatened, remove yourself from the premises.

To learn more about Service Dog requirements, you may find the post below helpful.

Service Dog Requirements

Unfortunately, many veterans suffer from a variety of disabilities after returning to civilian life. The Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) has reported that approximately 30% of veterans experience symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder from experiencing war and/or assault.

Other veterans may have sustained an injury during their time in the military, or experience vision or hearing loss. If a veteran is experiencing significant physical, mental, or mobile limitations in their day-to-day life due to these disabilities, they may qualify for a Service Dog or an ESA. More on qualifying for an emotional support animal here.

The VA has developed a program to provide qualified veterans with service dogs. Upon diagnosis of either a physical or mental disability, a veteran can apply to have a service dog that will be covered under veteran benefits.

In order to obtain a service dog through the VA, the veteran needs to follow these steps.  Meet with a Health Provider Adopt and Train your Service Dog Apply for VA Benefits Three steps to qualify for a Service Dog as a Veteran 1. Meet with a VA health provider

In order to qualify for a service dog, a veteran must be diagnosed with a disability. The Veteran may choose to work with a health provider through the Department of Veteran Affairs or outside of the VA.

The Veteran’s disability can be either physical or mental in nature. The health provider will evaluate the individual’s specific physical limitations to determine the best method of assistance. If the provider believes that a service dog will be the best form of treatment for the veteran, they will request the benefit through the local Prosthetic and Sensory Aids Service. The Prosthetic and Sensory Aids service will make the final decision by approving or disapproving the request.

The Veteran can also choose to work with a medical provider to determine their need for a Service Dog on their own. They are not bound by the VA as they are civilians now and can seek out solutions that work best for them.

2. Adopt and train a service dog

If the service dog application is approved, the dog needs to have the proper temperament and the ability to perform tasks needed to assist with the diagnosed disability. The VA doesn’t provide service dogs to veterans, but will often refer the veteran to accredited agencies, such as Assistance Dog International (ADI), that will raise and train service dogs that meet VA standards.

The VA also provides veterans the opportunity to train their own service dogs, if they so choose.

There are no required registrations or documentation that needs to be completed, but the dog still needs to meet the same standards that an agency-trained dog would meet. This includes ensuring the dog has the proper temperament, follows the desired commands, and is able to work in public around distractions. 

If the Veteran has adopted and trained their Service Dog themselves, they have the option to register their service dog in a national database and order a custom Service Dog ID card along with a vest for their newly minted Service Dog.

3. Apply for VA Veterinary Health Benefits

Upon approval for a service dog, veterans can now have their service dog enrolled in Veterinary Health Benefits. These benefits includes comprehensive treatment and wellness checks, emergency care, immunizations, and illness treatment for the dog that will be serving the veteran.  This is to ensure that the service dog remains in good health to best serve the veteran. They will also provide the proper equipment needed for the dog, such as a harness or vest. VA Health Benefits do not cover medications, food, or grooming assistance that is unrelated to the health of the dog.

Service dogs have proven to increase independence and provide feelings of comfort and safety for veterans that are suffering from debilitating disabilities. Service dogs aren’t pets to these individuals, but are working animals that have a strong desire to please their owners.

While not all dogs have the ability to become qualified as service dogs, those who do can make life-altering differences for their owners.

To register your Service Dog and order your Service Dog Certification, click on the link below.