Archive for the ‘Service Dog Tips’ Category

Unlike most dogs, Service Dogs go to work every day to fulfill their job in supporting their handlers with their specific needs. Just like humans, to do their work, they might need a uniform and tools to make the job easier. A shopping list of essential supplies for a Service Dog could include the following items: 

Vests ID Cards Paw Mittens and Booties Collar Leash Head Halter Harness Toilet or Waste Kits Clickers Muzzle Toys, Treats, and Relaxation Vests

The vest is an essential Service Dog gear. Although Service Dogs aren’t legally required to wear one, vests do provide a level of authority and convenience. They are also a courtesy to bystanders by visually communicating that a dog is working in an official capacity.

The vest grants entry into an establishment or area where animals would be otherwise be prohibited. The American Disabilities Act allows Service Dogs into any spaces where their owner goes, and a vest alerts everyone that a dog is a Service Dog and must accompany its owner. 

The most popular, and useful, style is the Cape Style Service Dog vest. It’s easy to place over the dog and provides enough areas with pockets. A vest should fit snugly around the dog, without restricting the dog’s movement. The vest should also be padded and made of a non-abrasive material to reduce friction and injury to the dog. 

A patch can be placed on a Service Dog vest to provide further information to others. A “no petting” patch might also help deter people who don’t know that Service Dogs should not be petted while they are at work. Although not necessary, patches can communicate whatever a service dog owner thinks is necessary for others to know.

ID Cards

An ID card is not necessary for a service dog. However, a Service Dog ID Card can provide the following benefits:

Permits access to areas denied to other dogs.  Helps educate the public of the dog’s access rights as Service Dog. Builds confidence to travel with the Service Dog. Provides additional documentation for how long the Service Dog has been in service. Gives access to the Service Dog Registration online, on a mobile device. Paw Mittens and Booties

Service Dogs follow their owners everywhere, and their paws travel on a variety of terrains. Their paws may need protection from hazards like hot pavements and frozen ground.  Paw mittens and booties help to keep their paws free from external injuries.


Service Dogs spend a majority of their day leashed and collared. Collars also identify dogs as Service Dogs, and a dog tag or other accessories can be attached. 

It’s crucial to find a collar that fits correctly and doesn’t abrade the dog’s skin. There are a variety of materials to choose from. It’s best to select collars based on the dog’s tasks and what kind of dog breed they are. 

Boxer Service Dog with a vest, collar, and leash, taking a rest. Leash

Service Dogs are exceptionally well trained and will not leave their owner’s side. However, for the comfort and reassurance of the public, leashing a Service Dog is necessary when out and about. Leashes come in a wide range of lengths, though the recommended length is 4-6 feet.  

What type of material to choose for a leash depends on the dog breed and task. For example, a large service dog that helps to maneuver a wheelchair may require a sturdier, thicker leash. 

Head Halter

Typically, head halters are devices used in the training of Service Dog puppies. However, head halters can also be useful in cases where owners may be unable to communicate with a Service Dog. The head halters allow an owner to give immediate directions, without the need for verbal or visual cues, just by tugging at the halter. 

Show everyone that the rights of your Service Dog should be respected. Get your Service Dog registered.


A harness provides a way for Service Dogs to pull their owner or guide them out of an area. A harness also allows a Service Dog to pull on a wheelchair or provide balance to its handler.  The harness spreads pressure throughout the chest and shoulders of a Service Dog, allowing the dog to manage heavy weights without injury.

Supplies your Service Dog might require. Toilet or Waste Kits 

Even Service Dogs have little “accidents”. Although very rare, a Service Dog may be unable to hold their business for later or may unexpectedly become ill. In these situations, having a waste kit on hand can make life a whole lot easier for both, the owner and the service dog. 

Dog waste kits can contain plastic waste bags, a waterproof pad, towel wipes, and hand sanitizer. Owners can add whatever else they feel might be necessary to provide a quick clean up. 


Clickers are mainly a training device for Service Dogs. They’re called “clickers” because they emit a clicking sound initiated by the trainer. The clicking sound provides immediate feedback, instead of a positive verbal response from the owner, which may be confusing for a puppy. For example, a trainer may initiate a clicking sound immediately after a dog sits after he’s asked to “sit.” The dog identifies the clicking sound as positive feedback that he performed the task correctly. 

A fully-equipped Service Dog on duty. Muzzle

Because Service Dogs undergo extensive training, they don’t require muzzles. Though muzzles aren’t necessary for Service Dogs, they do have a role in certain situations. When in extremely crowded areas or locations where there may be numerous unsupervised children, a muzzle can provide any bystanders with a sense of security. Some people are fearful of dogs in general, and having a muzzle on a Service Dog can provide a degree of reassurance for the public. If a muzzle impedes on a Service Dog’s tasks, however, then the muzzle is not recommended for use. 

Service Dogs are trained to be non-violent and tolerate any situation. However, if a Service Dog is injured, a muzzle may be required. Even the most well-trained dogs may bark, nip or bite when they have an injury. 

Toys, Treats, and Relaxation 

At the end of the day, Service Dogs are just like humans—they need to rest. When they’re off duty, Service Dogs are just like any other dogs. They enjoy playing with toys, being silly, and letting their pent up energy loose. Toys and activity are good for their wellbeing and make for better Service Dogs. 

Healthy treats can provide positive re-enforcement for dogs and promote bonding with owners. Making time for relaxation and allowing Service Dogs time off to be regular dogs creates a work-life balance—something even Service Dogs need. 

A Service Dog in his favorite collar having some off time at the beach. Conclusion 

Service Dogs don’t require a ton of expensive gear, but they do need the basics. Some voluntary items, like a harness and vest, may depend on the owner’s needs and wishes. Others, like an ID card or a legitimate certification, can help handlers build more confidence bringing their Service Dog along.

But never forget, although Service Dogs take care of humans, they also need to be taken care of simply as a dog. Despite all the training and supplies, a Service Dog needs understanding, nurturing, care, and some time off to be a dog.

A person with a mental illness may struggle to accomplish daily life activities. When in need, some individuals depend on family, friends, or caretakers, while others rely on Psychiatric Service Dog. A Psychiatric Service Dog is a support for a person with a mental illness to help complete their everyday tasks.

Definition of a Psychiatric Service Dog

A Psychiatric Service Dog falls under the category of Service Animals. These are dogs or miniature horses that assist a person with a disability with tasks that directly relate to their disorder. Per Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), a disability is a physical, medical, or mental disorder that impairs their daily activities. Originally, Service Dogs were only used for individuals with physical disabilities. As the number of other disorders grew, The ADA service dog laws conformed to the increasing numbers of people in need and began to allow Service Dogs for individuals with mental disabilities, and calling them Psychiatric Service Dogs. 

Service Dog watching over his owner in the pool Mental Illnesses a Psychiatric Service Dog can help with

To qualify for a Psychiatric Service Dog, a person must have a diagnosis of mental illness from a medical professional. Several mental illnesses qualify as a psychiatric diagnosis. Among those are:

Generalized Anxiety Disorder Panic Attacks Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder Eating Disorders Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)  Schizophrenia Agoraphobia 

If you are interested in registering your trained psychiatric service dog, the below image is a helpful guide for service dog registration. We recommend saving this or sending it a loved one who may benefit from having a service dog.

The best breeds for Psychiatric Service Dogs

To find a Psychiatric Service Dog that fits the individual’s situation, they must look at several factors, such as breed, temperament, and trainability. Dog breeds that excel in this type of work and tend to enjoy service work are:

Labrador Retrievers German Shepherds Border Collies Poodles Golden Retrievers

These breeds share similar traits, such as high levels of trainability, desire to please, intense focus, and generally good temperament. These characteristics go a long way in training and allow them not only to learn the tasks needed by their handler but to form a strong bond. It’s important to choose a dog that enjoys working on specific tasks—if a dog struggles to learn new skills, or appears to be in distress while training, they may not be a good fit for service work.

Dogs with desirable working traits enjoy their responsibilities as Psychiatric Service Dog and will serve their handlers best. 

Golden Retrievers make great Psychiatric Service Dogs Tasks a Psychiatric Service Dog provides

Once a handler identifies their ideal Psychiatric Service Dog, they need to think about what the dog can do to assist them. Each disability has different factors that impact an individual’s daily life. The goal with a PSD is to discover what they can do to help ease or even eliminate the handler’s undesirable symptoms. What a Psychiatric Service Dog needs to do depends on their handler’s demands, which again depends on their mental illness. Here are some examples based on different mental disorders:

Fetching medication for a person with depression who is unable to leave their bed Accompanying a person who has agoraphobia to go outside Detecting a panic attack and providing physical comfort until it subsides Fetching a phone for a person with anxiety so they can reach out for help Providing physical stimulation for a person with obsessive-compulsive disorder to distract them from their rituals  Waking up a person with post-traumatic stress disorder who is experiencing nightmares or night terrors A Psychiatric Service Dog to fit

Thousands of individuals nationwide benefit from the assistance of a PSD. As everyone’s needs are different, each Service Dog is trained to complete distinct tasks that benefit their handlers. Continuous, honest communication with the therapist can help to determine what symptoms need extra support. And that insight will dictate what their Psychiatric Service Dog can do to help live their lives independently, safely, and as fulfilling as possible.

Dogs are great companions, but sometimes they bark—a lot. This can be frustrating and—especially for a Service Dog—poor behavior. But with patience, training and well-timed rewards, you can teach your dog to drop the barking and speak only when it’s appropriate. To learn about what measures you can take to train your Service Dog to stop the barking, read on below.

Stay Calm!

It’s important that you don’t yell at your dog. They just think you’re both barking! Even though tolerating the barking, for the time being, is stressful, try to stay upbeat and carry on with your training.

Understanding Dog Behavior

Try to figure out why the dog is barking. Dogs don’t usually repeat behavior they don’t get rewarded for. What is your dog getting out of barking? Is it your undivided attention because you keep telling them to be quiet, or because you keep throwing treats in the hopes they’ll pipe down? If so, you may be making things worse.

One solution is to ignore your dog when they bark. Don’t look at them, don’t talk to them, don’t pay any attention at all. If they’re crying because they’ve been put in a crate, just turn your back and walk away. Yes, that’s hard, but it will help your dog learn better behavior. 

Pay attention to when the dog stops barking. As soon as that happens, you should give the dog a treat. Now they’ve been rewarded for quieting down. Over time, increase the amount of time the dog has to be quiet before getting a treat.

If your dog barks at a stimulus, such as someone at the door or when passing other dogs, you can try to desensitize them. Enlist the help of a friend with a dog for this exercise. Have your friend and their dog stand somewhere out of view, and start feeding your dog treats. Then have the friend walk by with their dog and continue feeding yours. After they’re gone, stop feeding the treats. Now your dog has been rewarded for being quiet around another dog, even if they were distracted by the food!

Teach Your Service Dog to Speak

Yes, you want your Service Dog to stop barking, but teaching them to bark on command actually helps with this. You can say “speak” and wait for the dog to start barking, then give them a treat. If they don’t start, wave a toy or treat around to get their attention and instigate the barking. Ideally, you want one bark, not repeat barking.

After your dog gets good at speaking on command, you can teach them to be “quiet.” Start in a quiet room without distractions. First, tell the dog “Speak,” then when they’re barking, tell them, “Quiet,” and offer a treat. Later, you can increase the amount of time they have to be quiet before getting the food. Then you can move on to practicing with distractions, such as when the postal carrier comes, or someone knocks on the door.

Remember, never reward barking when you didn’t tell your Service Dog to speak.

Reward your Service Dog with a healthy treat. Incompatible Behaviors

Another method that may help is distracting the dog with some incompatible behavior. For example, when that postal carrier shows up, you could throw a treat onto the dog bed and command, “Go to your bed.” Once the dog is in the habit of going to their bed for a treat, practice opening the door for a friend. If the dog stays put, they get another treat. If they get up, close the door immediately. Keep repeating this exercise until the dog is good at staying on their bed when the door is opened. Then you can work on having your friend ring the doorbell. If the dog stays, they get a treat. 

Show everyone that the rights of your Service Dog should be respected. Get your Service Dog registered.

Give your Service Dog a Purpose

Keep your Service Dog busy and teach them they are here to serve you. Equip your dog with a Service Dog vest and wear a Service Dog Registration Id yourself. Although the vests and ids are not required by law, they could provide your dog with a sense of authority. Teach them that once the vest is on they are “at work”. Your Service Dog will have a purpose and can concentrate on the tasks needed to serve you, instead of barking uncontrollably.

As a side-effect, service dog vests are also a courtesy to bystanders by visually communicating that a dog is working in an official capacity. Others might understand not to interact with your Service Dog, therefore eliminating more reasons a dog might start to bark.

Use Up Some of That Boundless Dog Energy

Sometimes dogs bark because they’re bored and don’t have anything fun to do. Remember that your Service Dog needs daily physical activity! Regular exercise can leave them tired enough to sleep instead of barking incessantly. Depending on your disability, make sure that you or someone you trust takes your Service Dog for walks or play—don’t just go out long enough for them to take care of business. A certified Service Dog needs to stay buoyant and vigilante. Appropriate training and healthy activities will keep your Service Dog in high spirits and allows them to give you the undivided support you need—without any unnecessary barking.