For those who experience anxiety, a psychiatric service dog can make all the difference. Training a service dog for anxiety can teach them to detect panic attacks in their handlers, help their handlers avoid triggers, and remind their handlers when it’s time to take essential medications for their condition.
How to Train a Service Dog for Anxiety - A Complete Guide
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What is a Psychiatric Service Dog (PSD)?
A psychiatric service dog is a type of service animal specially trained to support an individual with a psychiatric disability, mental health, or emotional condition. The types of tasks that psychiatric service dogs perform vary and are essential in assisting their handler with day-to-day tasks that can greatly improve the person’s quality of life.
There are different types of psychiatric service dogs that can assist with an array of conditions or disabilities, including anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, autism, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Psychiatric Service Dog Training Requirements
Psychiatric service dogs are defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) as animals that are individually trained to perform tasks or do work to assist a person with a disability.
Psychiatric service dogs and other service animals (like miniature horses) don’t need to be professionally trained or certified, but dogs who are still in training or haven’t received specialized training to assist their specific handler aren’t typically considered service dogs, and may not be afforded the same rights as such.
How to Train a Service Dog for Anxiety
Training a service dog for anxiety takes patience and consistency, but it doesn't have to be difficult. With the right tools and preparation, you and your dog will be able to work together to manage anxiety in no time. Make sure you consider the following factors before you focus on how to train a service dog for anxiety.
Make Sure Your Dog is Fit for the Job
Not all dogs are cut out for the task of being service animals. Making sure your dog is fit for the job before you begin training will save you a lot of time and potential heartache. Trainability and attentiveness are two of the most important traits to think about. Consider factors like your dog’s age and how well they took to previous training, as well as their temperament and whether they’ll have the ability to focus on essential service dog tasks.
Train Your Dog to Be Obedient
Training your dog to be obedient is crucial to continue building on their basic training. When your dog has basic obedience training mastered, it will be much easier for you to introduce new tasks and have your dog maintain focus while training them to be a service dog for anxiety. Some of the most common and most important obedience commands your dog should be able to follow include sit, stay, come, and leave it.
Make Sure Your Dog Can Behave in Public
Some of the most valuable tasks that service dogs perform for individuals with anxiety is accompanying their handler in public. Making sure your dog has basic public access training and can behave in public settings is essential for successful public outings as a service dog. Basic obedience training should come before public access training. This way you have a foundation for commands and expectations for behavior that you can exercise and practice in public as well.
Teach Tasks that Can Help with Your Anxiety
There’s a huge range of tasks that psychiatric service dogs can perform to assist an individual with anxiety, but your service dog should cater to you specifically. Teaching your dog to perform tasks that help with your anxiety will give you the best and most helpful service dog experience. Start by identifying your triggers and symptoms, and work with your dog to help them be able to identify and respond to them.
Get Help from a Professional Trainer
Getting help from a professional trainer when working to train a psychiatric service dog lets you gain insight from their experience. Having trained service dogs and worked with individuals with disabilities in the past, certified psychiatric service dog trainers like Lisa Gallegos have spent years developing the best methods for successful training.
Self-Training vs. Professional Training
While it’s not legally required to have a service dog professionally trained, it can be a benefit to take a few tips from the experts. Consulting a professional psychiatric service dog trainer takes the guesswork out of training your dog yourself, and gives you access to tools and strategies that have been tested, proven, and improved over years of dedication.
Online Psychiatric Service Dog Training with Pettable
Pettable’s online psychiatric service dog training is created by professional dog trainers to give you and your dog the road map to accomplish amazing things. Our self-paced lessons are accessed at home and are full of resources you’ll find beyond helpful in training your dog to be a psychiatric service dog. Start by taking our short 3-minute assessment, and get matched with a health professional in your state to get started with Pettable’s satisfaction-guaranteed service dog training programs.