“The ADA defines a person with a disability as a person who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activity.” To qualify for a service dog, you must be diagnosed with a disability. Depression, stress, or anxiety are only considered a disability if they limit what you can do. For instance, some people cannot go to the store on their own. Others can’t leave their homes, can’t work, or go to public places when it’s crowded. If you have depression or anxiety but are still able to go through your day without limitations, you do not qualify for a service dog under the ADA.
The dog must allow you to go places and face situations that you would not be able to without a service dog.
What are Psychiatric Service Dogs trained to do?
Trained tasks for psychiatric service dogs
- Wake up his/her person
- Provide tactile stimulation
- Facilitate social interactions and reduce fears associated with being around people
- Serve as a buffer to help the person cope with being in a crowd
- Help the person calm down when agitated
- Wake up a person having nightmares
- Grounding a person dealing with fears and anxiety and helping him/her get back to the here & now
- Help create a safe personal space
- Get medication and water when the person cannot
- Get help
- Provide balance assistance
- Remind a person to take medication and nag until it’s done
- Disrupt emotional overload.
What does science say?
Help and companionship
Psychiatric service dogs can provide a reason for a person to get out of bed and can encourage a person to be more active and get out for a walk and be more social. They can also help the handler maintain a routine. In addition to helping with clinical symptoms, studies have shown that for most people suffering from PTSD or anxiety disorder, a PSD may also soothe feelings of loneliness and sadness, calm racing thoughts and irritability, and reduce aggression and agitation.
In addition to their skills in helping with psychiatric conditions, our dogs are taught all the behaviors required to pass the Public Access Test and meet or exceed the minimum standards of training established by the International Association of Assistance Dogs Partners (IAADP). You’ll be able to safely and reliably take your service dog to work, to school, to the mall, restaurant, etc.