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Psychiatric Service Dog

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A Psychiatric Service Dog is a dog that helps its handler with a mental (psychiatric) disability. Common mental disabilities that sometimes qualify a person for a service dog include, but are not limited to: Major Depressive Disorder, Bipolar Disorder, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Autism, Agoraphobia, Anxiety Disorder, and Schizophrenia. Other psychiatric conditions which may also be assisted by the use of a psychiatric service dog may include Borderline Personality Disorder, Conversion Disorder, or Asperger's Syndrome, and many others.

Like all other types of service dogs, a Psychiatric Service Dog helps its handler mitigate his/her disability through trained tasks, including but not limited to:

  • picking up/retrieving objects or aiding with mobility when the handler is dizzy from medication or has psychosomatic (physical) symptoms
  • waking the handler if the handler sleeps through alarms or cannot get himself/herself out of bed
  • alerting to and/or responding to episodes (i.e. mood changes, panic attacks, oncoming anxiety, etc.)
  • reminding the handler to take medication if the handler cannot remember on his/her own or with the use of an alarm
  • distracting the handler from repetitive and obsessive behaviors (such as counting or others which may accompany various disorders such as Obsessive Compulsive Disorder)
  • pressing an emergency-call or 9-1-1 button on a telephone or portable medical alert system in the event of a serious medical crisis
  • and many other tasks directly related to the handler's disability.

Psychiatric service dogs may be of any size and of any breed. Many are owner-trained (trained by the person who will become the dog's handler), but increasingly, service dog training programs are recognizing the need for dogs to help individuals with psychiatric disabilities. Some psychiatric service dog owners may choose to refer to their dogs as "medical alert" or "medical response" service dogs.

Handlers of psychiatric service dogs are entitled to the same rights and protections afforded to handlers of other types of assistance dogs, including guide dogs, hearing dogs, and mobility service dogs under federal law, originating from the Americans with Disabilities Act. Psychiatric service dogs are specifically trained to help individuals with psychiatric disabilities.

See also

External links


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