Friday, October 15, 2010

Therapy "Service Dogs"

Psychiatric Service Dogs are amazing helpers and companions for children and adults with mental health issues. I love seeing service dogs when I'm out and about in the world. What kinds of tasks can Psychiatric Service Dogs be trained to do? Take a look:

♦ Remind handler to take medication on time

♦ Warm handler’s body during a panic attack

♦ Interrupt repetitive OCD behaviors

♦ Comfort handler during emotional distress

♦ Accompany handler outside of the home

♦ Interrupt dissociative episodes or flashbacks

♦ Protect and safeguard handler during seizure

♦ Provide a safe grounding presence

♦ Interrupt self-harming

Just remember, if you see a Psychiatric Service Dog, ask their handler if the dog is "working". Dogs can be petted and played with only when they're on a break!

For more on Psychiatric Service Dogs go here


Xmichra said...

That is pretty cool, though I had to think if you were joking about the petting only on a break thing. It just sounds weird!

I know my aunt has a friend with a service dog. The dog is smarter than her husband.. lol... helps her to remember to take her pills and can pretty well predict when she is going to have a seisure. She has epilepsy, and the dog seems to know her better than she knows herself.

I found it ironic that the dog's name was Jolt. maybe that isn't funny to most, but I thought it was ironic.

Wanda's Wings said...

That is amazing that these dogs can be taught so much. I think it is wonderful.

Anonymous said...

All in all, time well spended here.

Wendy said...

This is a fabulous idea. I have a wonderful lab who is 4 years old, and has the standard training, sit, stay, etc. He could very easily learn service dog requirements, as he is ver intelligent. I'm definitely going to look into finding a trainer so we can become a certified team!

Max-SDIT said...

I think you need to do some more research. One of the tasks you listed was "Comfort handler during emotional distress". This is not a legitimate service dog task. That is what an emotional support animal does, not a SD. The must take an active role in mitigating their handler's disability, their presence is not enough to qualify as a SD.

Oh, and calling a PSD a therapy service dog is very confusing to most people. Therapy dogs, service dogs, and ESA's all do different work.

Dr. Deb said...

I have seen and worked alongside service animals. And yes, sometimes they are smarter than we are!

These animals are so smart, dedicated and loyal. Amazing, I agree.

I think you are a spammer.

There is so much you both could do!

The research about PSD comes straight from the PSD website. There are differences in dog training, so you are right. But I believe I have my research and reporting down on this one.

jg said...

I have a new puppy and hope he can 'learn' to recognize when I need some extra TLC.

Unknown said...

Dr. Deb, Max is absolutely correct. In my opinion (and the opinion of my old college English professor) you need to use more than one source, especially where internet sources are concerned. Might I suggest the International Association of Assistance Dog Partners (IAADP) as a great source.

HumSD said...

This is the new ADA rulings that go into effect early 2011. The very last line pertains to your definition of a PSD.

ADA Subpart A 36.104 Definitions

Service animal means any dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability. Other species of animals, whether wild or domestic, trained or untrained, are not service animals for the purposes of this definition. The work or tasks performed by a service animal must be directly related to the handler´s disability. Examples of work or tasks include, but are not limited to, assisting individuals who are blind or have low vision with navigation and other tasks, alerting individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing to the presence of people or sounds, providing non-violent protection or rescue work, pulling a wheelchair, assisting an individual during a seizure, alerting individuals to the presence of allergens, retrieving items such as medicine or the telephone, providing physical support and assistance with balance and stability to individuals with mobility disabilities, and helping persons with psychiatric and neurological disabilities by preventing or interrupting impulsive or destructive behaviors. The crime deterrent effects of an animal´s presence and the provision of emotional support, well-being, comfort, or companionship do not constitute work or tasks for the purposes of this definition.

Dr. Deb said...

Hi all,
I've worked with many service animals so I have knowledge. PSD's are trained to do many things, and if we were looking at just one behavior - comfort during distress - I would agree that it does not meet the requirement for SD. However, they are trained to do all the other things listed, including that. I know that in the service dog world, there is much to do about service dog training status. Please don't misunderstand the goal of this post, which is to show many of my readers, who have mental illness, that service dogs are out there.

Thank you for your input and lively debate. We are on the same page.

Raine said...

I have a friend who has gotten one. She was very happy with him.

Patricia Singleton said...

Thank you Dr. Deb for sharing this post. I had no idea that dogs were trained to do this kind of work. I knew that dogs could sense when a seizure was going to happen before it happened. The only other service dogs that I knew about were seeing eye dogs. This is another wonderful example of dogs being "man's best friend." literally. Dogs are wonderful companions and often give emotional compassion without being trained to do so.

Angeliki said...

That's amazing! I didn't know about that and I haven't seen any. What a great idea!

"DeRanger" Steve said...

I think Dr. Deb needs to do a bit more study. There is a major difference in training and the legal definition between a PSD and a Therapy Dog. PSDs are formally trained service dogs that specialize in for people with psych problems like PTSD, depression, OCD, etc. Service Dogs have the rioght to full public access anywhere when with their handlers/trainers only. Therapy dogs are trained to be friendly, not touch objects and provide physical contact and enjoyment for people recovering from various types of hospital stays. TDs DO NOT have the access rights of an SD.

Dr. Deb said...

Therapy Service Dogs ARE also known as "Psychotherapy" / Psychiatric Service Dogs. I'm not a novice about this subject.

Please take your propaganda elsewhere.

And shame on you for needing to bully, rant and act out on this blog.

Anonymous said...

This is such a wonderful service, wherever it is offered. Wendy is longing to get Max qualified as a therapy dog to work in the extended care unit at our local hospital.

B said...

Maybe you could edit the part about Comfort handler during emotional distress and put in with it that it is not a recognized task.It isn't considered a "task" but can be trained.

Dr. Deb said...

But PSD *are* trained to provide tactile comfort during stress and anxiety. It's one of their services.


Unknown said...

Dr Deb, my son's dog is a therapeutic service dog! LOL He does provide emotional support, along with some physcial support (my son has T21, ADHD and PID). Some are thrown by the "therapeutic" portion of his title but he is a service dog. He mitigates the disability of my son. Thanks for the article and skip the know it all bullies!

Anonymous said...

Everyone lay off her! Dr. Deb, your absolutely right! They do comfort their owners during emotion distress. Everyone else, you need to check your resources.