Fact checked

Psychiatric Service Dog California - Training & Certification

In California, obtaining a psychiatric service dog involves having a diagnosed mental health condition and obtaining a recommendation from a licensed mental health professional stating that the service dog is essential for managing your condition. Once you have the recommendation, you can either train a dog to meet the specific needs related to your disability or acquire a dog that has already been trained by a reputable service dog organization.

Kristi Carignan
April 17, 2024
April 17, 2024
8 minute read
Updated By
Expert Reviewed By:
April 17, 2024
August 18, 2021
8 minute read
Updated By
If you need a psychiatric service dog in California, you must ensure the dog is fully trained. Pettable offers online PSD training that can help.

In California, individuals facing psychiatric challenges can find invaluable support through Psychiatric Service Dogs (PSDs). These specially trained canines offer assistance and companionship to those with mental health conditions, providing a sense of security and independence. This comprehensive guide outlines everything you need to know about obtaining and training a psychiatric service dog in California, including adoption, certification, training options, relevant laws, and more.

How to Get a Psychiatric Service Dog in California

If you are looking to get a psychiatric service dog in California there are a few things you need to take into consideration. The first thing is adoption, essentially, where are you going to get your future psychiatric service dog? You can choose to either adopt a fully-trained psychiatric service dog from an organization or opt for an untrained dog. There are several places to adopt a dog in California, and we’ve listed some reputable options later in this guide.

Secondly, you need to think about how you will train your psychiatric service dog, you have many options in this regard, including self-training a service dog. Importantly, you’ll want to consider whether to opt for an in-person or online program. Another consideration is how hands-on you want to be in the training process, as you can opt to have a professional trainer handle the bulk of the training work (keep in mind this option tends to be more expensive). Factors including cost, time, and personal needs will also weigh heavily into decision-making. We’ve listed some potential PSD training options for California residents in this guide.


One of the primary ways to acquire a Psychiatric Service Dog in California is through adoption. Several organizations within the state specialize in breeding, raising, and training service dogs specifically for individuals with psychiatric disabilities. These organizations often have thorough application processes to ensure that the dogs are matched with suitable owners based on their needs and lifestyles.

Listed below are some reputable organizations where you can begin your search for a future psychiatric service dog:

Animal Shelters in California

  • Family Dog Rescue (San Fransisco, CA) — Family Dog Rescue is a local Californian dog rescue and shelter that finds forever homes for dogs in need. It is a 501c3 non-profit organization that is a great option for you to adopt your future psychiatric service dog in California.
  • Central Californian SPCA (Fresno, CA) — The SPCA is always a good option for finding rescued or sheltered dogs to adopt. The CCSPCA has plenty of dogs in need of a new home that could make for a fantastic psychiatric service dog for someone in need.
  • The Animal Rescue Center of California (Coachella Valley, CA) — A 501c3 nonprofit organization that specializes in rescuing dogs off the street and finding them new homes that are bound to have the perfect future psychiatric service dog ready for adoption.

Adopting a Trained Psychiatric Service Dog in California

  • California Service Dog Academy (Visalia, CA) — A reputable service dog organization that specializes in training dogs to assist veterans and those with PTSD. Through their CARE program, they also provide trained service dogs for general members of the public in need.
  • Canine Companions (Santa Rosa, CA) — Canine Companions is a national organization trusted to provide well-trained service dogs trained to assist with a variety of disabilities, including psychiatric service dogs.


Psychiatric service dog training is a crucial aspect of their role in assisting individuals with mental health conditions. While some organizations provide fully trained service dogs, others offer programs where owners can train their dogs with the guidance of professional trainers. The training process typically involves teaching the dog specific tasks tailored to the individual's needs, such as interrupting self-harming behaviors, providing deep pressure therapy during panic attacks, or alerting to medication reminders. Training a psychiatric service dog requires adhering to a comprehensive curriculum tailored to address specific psychiatric needs, ensuring these service dogs can effectively assist individuals facing mental health challenges.

Here are some good options in California if you are looking to train a psychiatric service dog:

Online Psychiatric Service Dog Training in California

In-Person Psychiatric Service Dog Training in California

  • Fun Paw Care (Los Angeles, CA) — Located in LA, Fun Paw Care provides a wide array of service dog training options for those living in California.
  • Gold Country K9 (Ione, CA) — Another great option for service dog and therapy dog training within California, if you are looking for an in-person option.

Psychiatric Service Dog Certification in California

In California, there is no official certification or registration requirement for Psychiatric Service Dogs. However, many owners choose to obtain certification through reputable organizations to ensure their dog's legitimacy and access to public places. Certification often involves passing a series of tests to demonstrate the dog's obedience, task proficiency, and suitability for service work.

Psychiatric Service Dog Training Options in California

Pettable PSD Training Program

Pettable offers an innovative online Psychiatric Service Dog training program designed to accommodate individuals' busy schedules and diverse needs. Their comprehensive curriculum covers essential obedience training, task-specific skills, and public access training, all from the comfort of your own home. With Pettable, owners have access to professional trainers who provide personalized guidance and support throughout the training process.

In-Person Options

For those who prefer in-person training, several local organizations in California offer training programs for Psychiatric Service Dogs. These programs typically involve attending classes or private sessions with experienced trainers who can tailor the training to meet the individual's specific needs and goals. Additionally, some trainers offer home-based training services for added convenience.

Where to Adopt a Psychiatric Service Dog in California

Several reputable organizations in California specialize in breeding, raising, and training Psychiatric Service Dogs. These organizations often have waiting lists and thorough application processes to ensure that each dog is placed with a suitable owner. Additionally, individuals may consider adopting a dog from a local shelter and then working with a trainer to train them as a Psychiatric Service Dog.

Psychiatric Service Dog Laws in California

In California, Psychiatric Service Dogs are protected under both federal and state laws. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) grant individuals with disabilities the right to be accompanied by their service dogs in public places and on commercial airlines. Additionally, California state law prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities who use service dogs, ensuring their equal access to housing, employment, and public accommodations.

Who Qualifies for a Psychiatric Service Dog in California?

Individuals with a wide range of psychiatric disabilities may qualify for a Psychiatric Service Dog in California. Some common conditions that may benefit from the assistance of a service dog include:

  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Depression
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Schizophrenia
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)

Do You Need to Register Your Psychiatric Service Dog in California?

While there is no official registration requirement for Psychiatric Service Dogs in California, some owners choose to register their dogs with reputable service dog registries for additional documentation and peace of mind. However, registration is not a legal requirement for accessing the rights and privileges afforded to service dog handlers under the law.

Psychiatric Service Dogs vs Emotional Support Animals

It's essential to distinguish between Psychiatric Service Dogs and Emotional Support Animals (ESAs). While both provide emotional support, Psychiatric Service Dogs are trained to perform specific tasks that mitigate the effects of their owner's psychiatric disability, whereas ESAs do not require specific training and do not have public access rights under the ADA. In California, individuals with disabilities may qualify for reasonable accommodations in housing for both Psychiatric Service Dogs and ESAs under the Fair Housing Act. For Californians seeking an Emotional Support Animal (ESA) letter, Pettable offers a convenient online service.

In conclusion, obtaining and training a Psychiatric Service Dog in California can be a life-changing experience for individuals struggling with mental health conditions. Whether through adoption, training programs, or local organizations, there are various avenues available to find the perfect companion and support system. By understanding the laws, qualifications, and training options, individuals can embark on a journey towards greater independence, security, and well-being with their Psychiatric Service Dog by their side.


Obtaining Psychiatric Service Dog certification California not only ensures the legitimacy of the partnership between individuals and their specially trained canines but also provides a crucial pathway to accessing public places and enjoying equal rights under the law. With certification, individuals facing psychiatric disabilities can navigate their daily lives with confidence, knowing that their service dogs are recognized and respected companions. Additionally, certification signifies a commitment to the rigorous training and standards upheld by reputable organizations, further reinforcing the bond between handler and dog. By advocating for the recognition of Psychiatric Service Dogs, California continues to promote inclusivity and support for individuals with mental health conditions, fostering a more compassionate and understanding society for all.

Meet the author:
Kristi Carignan

Kristi Carignan is a seasoned freelance writer with over 20 years of experience crafting copy for global agencies and brands. When she's not writing, she enjoys spending time with her furry companions, Sugar the PomChi and Rudy the Shiba Inu, and indulging in hobbies like crafting and home renovation.

See Archive