Psychiatric Service Dogs

Learn how service dogs can help with a variety of mental disorders.

The next stop in my mini-series on therapy dogs is psychiatric service dogs. These pooches are specifically trained to help people with mental health problems. Some disorders that psychiatric service animals can help with are:

  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Anxiety
  • Severe Depression
  • Bipolar Disorder
  • Panic Attacks
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorders
  • Phobias

These animals are trained to assist during certain times, such as panic or anxiety attacks. When they take action, the dog might have to help provide treatment for its handler, and help with sensory and emotional overload. This means that the canine might need to just be close to their human until they are back in the present moment and feeling better. Also, some service animals are trained to help people suffering from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder by “pawing” them, or distracting them from the unfavorable behavior. Other specific skills that these dogs can do include:

  • Assist its handler within their home or within a public setting like a grocery store, restaurant, gas station, etc…
  • Remind their person to take medication, or bring medication to them if they are unable to do so
  • Wake its handler up for work or school
  • Creating a physical boundary to act as a buffer for their person
  • Stand behind their handler to increase the feeling of safety, reduce hyper-vigilance, and decrease the chance of being startled from another person
  • Search home for intruders
  • Keep its handler oriented during panic or anxiety attack

Psychiatric service dogs can be any breed or size suitable for public work. Just like with any other service dog, they go through several months of training before being matched with a person.

Stay tuned to learn more about unique service animals that aren’t dogs!

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