Posts Tagged ‘service animal for mental health’

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.

If you have a physical, emotional, or mental disorder, then you will most likely qualify for a service dog. Below are the laws and a list of mental, emotional, and physical disabilities that may qualify you for a service dog.Read more →

Dogs have historically performed all manner of tasks to assist humans in a variety of situations. For centuries farmers have used the intelligent and energetic nature of Border Collies to help them round up their livestock. Dogs are also incredibly useful in the treatment and therapy of various disabilities, both physical and mental. Perhaps the most well-known of these is the use of a specially trained dog to lead and assist its blind owner. However, dogs can be prescribed and recommended to patients to help treat their psychological disorders. There is often much confusion between the categories they fall under – Psychiatric Service Dogs and Emotional Support Animals. What are they exactly, and what are their differences?

If both categories are specifically aimed at alleviating the symptoms associated with various psychological disorders, how can they be differentiated? This question has led to many heated debates and confusion as to the rights of their owners and where the can and cannot bring their animals.

They both help to improve the mental health of their owners

As both Psychiatric Service Dogs and Emotional Support Animals are both provided to individuals to assist them in some way with psychological issues, it is easy to understand why some people may not understand the differences between them.

What is a Psychiatric Service Dog?

Dogs are commonly used to assist physically disabled people with everyday tasks, making their lives much easier than if they didn’t have them to help. These dogs are specifically trained to perform their designated tasks and behave considerably much better than typical pet dogs. All Service Dogs are protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), allowing them to be exempt from most pet-related restrictions such as housing providers with a ‘no pet’ policy. This doesn’t apply only to physical disabilities, but to psychiatric disabilities as well. Psychiatric Service Dogs are therefore used by individuals whose mental impairment is so severe that it affects their ability to perform everyday tasks.

An example of this would be a mentally disabled person with a tendency to wander off in any direction when disoriented – a Psychiatric Service Dog would be trained and assigned to the individual to prevent them from walking onto busy roads.

What is an Emotional Support Animal?

While serving a similar service, Emotional Support Animals assist their owners as a part of their treatment plan. They do not assist individuals with everyday tasks, but rather they provide emotional comfort and help to improve the symptoms of certain psychological disorders.

The only physical aspect an Emotional Support Animal might provide, in contrast to a Service Animal, is that they may provide physical affection on command, or respond to playful activities. Emotional support animals do not have the same level of access as service dogs and are only allowed in planes for travel and in homes that normally do not allow pets

How to get an ESA Letter Online

Federal Law sees both categories very differently

In the eyes of the law, it is only Service Dogs that are exempt from public restrictions for animals. For example, in usual circumstances, people are not allowed to bring their pets on board when flying on commercial airlines – they must transport them separately. However, the Americans with Disabilities Act stipulates that disabled individuals may travel with their certified Service Animals.

As Emotional Service Animals are merely assigned to people undergoing a therapeutic treatment plan or to provide emotional stability, and are not specially trained or certified, the ADA does not recognize them as a physical necessity. Therefore, Emotional Support Animals and their owners do not have the same overall rights as Psychiatric Service Dogs, although there are some exemptions.

While Psychiatric Service Animals may accompany their owners in public accommodation such as hotels, Emotional Support Animals may not. However, there are certain exceptions regarding private accommodation.

Many landlords and housing providers may often have a ‘no pets’ policy within their accommodation, but these policies can often be bypassed when it comes to Service Animals and Emotional Support Animals due to their prescribed therapeutic assistance to their owners.

Psychiatric Service Animals and Emotional Support Animals serve similar purposes, but have very different rights

While both Psychiatric Service Animals and Emotional Support Animals are prescribed to their owners to assist them with mental impairments, it is apparent that they are designated to serve different purposes. Individuals who have been diagnosed with a psychiatric disorder that is severe enough to impair their daily functioning will typically be assigned a Psychiatric Service Animal to assist them in their day to day activities, and are recognized by the ADA. By contrast, Emotional Support Animals do provide their owners psychological stability and therapy, but are not recognized by the ADA and therefore do not have as many rights under Federal Law.