Service Dogs for Psychiatric Disorders
Psychiatric Service Dogs are like any other service animal. They are individually trained in obedience, performing tasks, and working in distracting public environments to mitigate their partner’s psychiatric disability. Their function is not to provide emotional support, but to perform tasks which enable their partner to function in ordinary ways the non-disabled take for granted.
What tasks should a person use?
To determine what a service dog might do to help you, make a list of those things you cannot do for yourself because of your disability. Consider what someone might do to help you overcome these barriers to basic functioning. Is it possible a dog might be trained to do those things for you?
Bonus training for psychiatric service dogs
In addition to tasks, psychiatric service dogs can be trained to perform emotionally comforting behaviors, such as licking or snuggling with their disabled handler on command. Some feelings of isolation or of being unloved can be relieved by unconditional positive interaction with another living being. While these bonus behaviors are not true tasks, in the sense that they alone would not justify the animal as a service dog, they can be very beneficial to the handler in times of stress. Handlers also report that the tactile stimulation of petting their dog or being nuzzled can help them to reorient during a dissociation episode or panic attack.