Posts Tagged ‘service dog for anxiety’

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. 

We’ve probably all seen a service dog helping to guide a person that is physically challenged but did you know you can also have a service dog if you suffer from anxiety?

Dogs can be especially helpful to those that suffer from any number of mental or emotional issues such as PTSD or social anxiety. However, unlike a service dog that has been trained by professionals to work with their owner, you can train your own dog to help you cope with your emotional trauma. Here are some basic steps on how to train a service dog for anxiety.

Step #1 – Choosing the Right Service Dog

It is highly recommended to start out with the right breed for being a service dog. Some canines just do not exhibit the right temperament to do this important and demanding job.

To ensure you are getting a pup that can be trained for service, it’s advised to look to those reputable breeders that are raising dogs for this specific purpose. You can also find great service dog candidates at your local shelters too!

According to Psychiatric Service Dog Partners when choosing a puppy for service work, look for these qualities;

Social – quick to greet Does not startle easily Follows Eager to be held Alert Step #2 – Determine the Service Dog’s Job 

Once you have your puppy you must determine what you will need the dog to do for you in order to guide its training. Once this is established you can begin bonding with your puppy. This helps create a baseline for your dog to recognize when you are in a relaxed state and when you are beginning to experience anxiety – dogs are very intuitive so the right dog will pick up on this naturally.

Step #3 – Develop Socialization Skills

Reputable breeders will have already started the socialization process with their puppies. This means the puppy has been handled extensively, been introduced to new people and new situations as well as being taken outside of the home.

When you get your puppy, it’s important that you keep up the socialization. The last thing you want is a dog that is frightened or stressed each time it encounters something new.

Step #4 – Start Basic Training Skills

All dogs should have the basics of training and good behavior, but it is doubly important if you plan to bring your dog with you into public areas. These skills include;

Sit Stay Drop Heel Leave Come

If you feel you cannot teach your canine companion the basic obedience skills needed, then enlist the help of a professional trainer. These people have the knowledge to, not only teach your dog, but also teach you how to continue the training outside of the weekly sessions.

Step #5 – Fine Tune Public Access Skills

Once your service dog-in-training has mastered his/her basic commands, then you can begin to work on public access skills. Use those pet-friendly areas like retail pet stores, outdoor cafes etc. to help your dog become accustomed to the hustle and bustle of public places.

Step #6 – Individual Response Training

It may be difficult to train a dog to alert a person before a panic attack, but with a close bond, your dog may pick up on your different body language and, if you are completely fear-stricken, the chemical changes in your body.

Some people who suffer from anxiety and stress have reported that giving the puppy/dog a treat when they are experiencing the symptoms is a helpful way to teach your dog to respond; however, not everyone is capable of this type of action when in the midst of anxiety, stress or fear.

Cuddling your dog close when you feel stressed is not only a great way to help bring relief to you, but will also allow the dog the chance to pick up on your “tell” signs. This is why it is crucial to find the right breed and/or temperament of your canine service dog.

Training a Service Dog for Anxiety

When training a service dog for anxiety you will have to have patience and persistence, especially with puppies. Begin with the basic training skills and socialization, then work your dog up for public access. Having a dog that helps with severe anxiety, PTSD, panic attacks and so on is a therapeutic way to get your life back on track.