The fact is that psychiatric service dogs is a relatively new concept, and because of this, there are still only a handful of services that specialize in training these dogs. So many people turn to training their very own pets into psychiatric service dogs. This idea may come across as intimidating and overwhelming to most dog owners.
However, there are a large number of resources available to help people train their own psychiatric service dogs. Also, the majority of owners find the training itself therapeutic.
Although it takes a significant deal of effort to train a dog for special needs, it also helps in increasing the closeness and improving bonding between the owner and the dog when they go through the process together. Additionally, when an owner trains their own dog, it allows them to have a lot more control over the specific tasks that the dg performs as well as how it reacts to certain situations and stimuli.
How are Emotional Support Animals Different from Psychiatric Service Dogs?
For those who have anxiety that is not as debilitating as others, it may be beneficial to get an emotional support animal. Keep in mind that these domestic animals are not limited to canines. They are intended to provide people who have milder cases of mental health disorders with comforting companionship.
In most situations, emotional support animals are still considered to be pets. This means that the legal protections that service animals have in public and private places are not provided to them. However, they are afforded a number of the same provisions. If a person has an emotional support animal, they are still qualified for no-pet housing and may go on a flight with the animal without having to pay an extra fee.
If a person believes that they will benefit from an emotional support animal, they will need to get a prescription letter from a mental health professional, same as someone who requires a service dog.
How to get a Service Dog
In order to be eligible for a service dog, you are required to meet several criteria, which may include the following:
- Having a debilitating disorder or illness or a physical disability
- Being able to participate in the training process that the dog is undergoing
- Having the ability to independently command and care for a service dog
- Being able to provide a stable home environment
Before they are placed in someone’s home, service dogs are trained to meet that person’s requirements. Usually, a dog that has already been someone’s pet cannot be trained later to become a service dog.
In order to apply for a psychiatric service dog, you will need to obtain a recommendation from a licensed mental health professional or medical doctor.
Did you know that approximately 18% of adults in the United States
experience some form of mental health disorder, or that about 4% of adults in the US experience a debilitating or severe mental health disorder? This means that only a small percentage of people with a mental health disorder actually qualify to have a psychiatric service dog.
Where can You Take Your Service Dog?
As a general rule, your service animal can go wherever you go. Federal law stipulates that a service dog, including a psychiatric service dog, may go with their owner to any place that they would normally go. This includes places that may not allow pets, such as residential buildings, restaurants, and on airplanes.
If a service animal needs to be removed from the premises, it should only be in situations where the animal is posing a direct threat to someone. In most circumstances, this is evaluated on the basis of each unique case.
A Few Guidelines for Interacting with Service Dogs in Public
Knowing how to act and interact with service dogs in public can be difficult, especially if you are an avid dog lover. However, there are a few guidelines that can help you, including:
- If you want to talk, it is best to talk to the person who is handling the dog rather than the dog.
- If you want to touch the dog, it is paramount to remember to always ask permission before you reach out and respect the wishes of the handler, particularly if they refuse permission.
- When you encounter service dogs on the street, always give them the right of way.
- Remember not to ask personal questions, like what problem the handler has that they require the help of a service dog. That is rude!
Throughout the years, humans have depended on dogs for a wide range of service aspects of life. However, in more recent times, these animals have come to play an essential role in a unique area of the medical field. Dogs are not only becoming a significant part of the lives of people with physical disabilities but they are now also playing a vital role in the lives of people who have psychiatric impairments as well.
For a serious amount of people living with anxiety, depression, PTSD, agoraphobia, and schizophrenia, these dogs help in providing a bridge between “normal” society and the emotionally-charged world that these people face every day of their lives.