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Service Dogs & Service Animals

These articles are about content related to service animals. They will help you understand more about the process and benefits for having a service dog or animal.

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April Brightman
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January 12, 2024
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December 11, 2023
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Service Dogs & Service Animals

A service dog, including psychiatric service dogs, is a highly trained canine companion that assists individuals with disabilities by performing specific tasks or providing emotional support. Psychiatric service dogs are specifically trained to support individuals with mental health conditions, such as PTSD or anxiety, by offering comfort, alerting to distressing situations, and facilitating a sense of security and stability.

What is a Service Dog?

Service dogs have an important job in the lives of individuals with disabilities and play an essential role in assisting their handlers in enjoying a better quality of life. The comforting presence and necessary aid they provide to people with disabilities are unmatched when it comes to managing certain conditions. Service dogs are an important piece of the puzzle in managing many disabilities.

Service dogs are a type of assistance animal trained to work. They receive individual training in order to be able to perform specific tasks that support a person with a disability. Service dogs can be any age, size, or breed and provide assistance for many different disabilities.

What do Service Dogs Do?

Service dogs can perform a variety of tasks that support different types of disabilities. Whether they’re providing support for psychiatric conditions, mobility support, or retrieving items for their handler, the tasks that service dogs are trained to perform are essential in helping improve the lives of people with disabilities.

Types of Service Dogs

The type of service dog that’s best for you depends on your disability and specific needs. These different types of service dogs are trained to perform certain tasks that support individual disabilities. These service dogs focus on jobs that assist, protect, and make the lives of their handlers.

Psychiatric Service Dogs

Psychiatric service dogs (PSDs) support people with psychiatric and cognitive disabilities. They might help their owners mitigate symptoms of stress caused by obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) or anxiety and help to calm their owners. PDSs may also give medication reminders, or alert their handler when they sense an oncoming panic attack or seizure.

Guide Dogs

Guide dogs, sometimes called “seeing-eye dogs” in the U.S., are a type of service animal specially trained to lead the blind or people who have other visual impairments. Guide dogs use their training and senses to observe and evaluate the best ways to help their handlers be mobile. They can find doors to enter or exit, keep their handlers in crosswalks, and judge the height of steps when climbing up or down stairs. Guide dogs can be helpful for folks with a number of disabilities.

Mobility Assistance Dogs

Service dogs who provide mobility assistance are a major benefit to people who have disabilities that include mobility issues. Their main job is to help people with physical impairments to be able to move around. Mobility assistance dogs can open and close doors, pull wheelchairs near when it’s time to transfer from a chair or bed or pick up items that may drop and be a challenge for their handler to retrieve on their own.

Alert Dogs

Alert dogs are another type of service dog that perform essential functions for people with disabilities. Sometimes referred to as “medical alert dogs,” are trained to sense oncoming medical episodes like those caused by seizures and panic disorders. Interestingly, this ability is actually innate within most dogs and the majority of training for this task is to alert once they’ve detected. Once they sense an impending episode, their job is to alert their handler, lead them to safety, and trigger an alarm for emergency services if necessary.

Who Qualifies for a Service Dog?

To qualify for a service dog there are a few necessary steps. First, you need to have a disability that falls under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) definition. Next, you’ll need documentation of that disability from a doctor or other healthcare professional stating that you have and are being treated for a psychiatric or physical disability and that your treatment plan includes a service dog.

Service Dog Training Requirements

Training requirements for service dogs are defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and state that while service dogs and other service animals aren’t required to be professionally trained, they must be individually trained to perform tasks specific to their handlers’ disability.

How to Train a Service Dog

There are a few options for how to train a service dog. You can get a service dog that’s already been trained from a number of different organizations around the country, you can pay to have a service dog trained by professionals, or you can train your service dog yourself with guidance from online service dog training courses.

What Animals Can Be Service Animals?

Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the only types of animals that can be service animals are dogs and miniature horses. There are no restrictions on dogs other than being in the canine family, and dogs of any age, size, or breed can become service animals.

Service Dog Laws

Service dog laws not only define the criteria for service animals but also protect individuals with disabilities and the right to have their service dog with them in places where pets typically can’t go. These laws are generally defined under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Fair Housing Act (FHA), and the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA).

Where Are Service Dogs Allowed to Go?

In general, service dogs are able to go anywhere their handlers go. This includes anywhere open to the public like businesses, restaurants, medical offices, schools, and hotels. They’re also allowed to join their handlers in most housing situations that don’t typically allow pets since service animals aren’t legally considered pets, but rather medical tools used to manage a disability. 

GO Deeper

What is a Psychiatric Service Dog?

Service dogs generally fall under one of several categories, and psychiatric service dogs are just one of the essential types of service animals supporting people with disabilities. Supporting individuals with psychiatric disabilities is the main job of a psychiatric service dog.

Psychiatric service dogs specifically support those with cognitive disabilities and mental health conditions. The types of disabilities that psychiatric service dogs support aren’t always immediately apparent, but the individuals who live with such conditions benefit greatly from the support of these assistance animals and are able to lead a more independent and fulfilling life.

What do Psychiatric Service Dogs Do?

Psychiatric service dogs support a variety of psychiatric conditions. Examples of the types of disabilities psychiatric service dogs can support include anxiety, autism, bipolar disorder, depression, schizophrenia, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Some of the tasks that psychiatric service dogs (PSDs) perform might be retrieving medications or other important items for their handler, and even giving reminders to take medications. PSDs can also provide support to handlers by guiding them to safety in dangerous or overwhelming situations, and serve as a calming presence during times of panic or episodes 

Psychiatric Service Dogs VS Emotional Support Animals

The main difference between psychiatric service dogs and emotional support animals comes down to training. Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), service dogs do not have to be professionally trained but must receive direct individual training and be able to perform tasks that support their handler’s disability. Emotional Support Animals (ESAs) do not have to be trained to perform tasks and aren’t required to undergo any other training. ESAs provide support to their handlers with disabilities with presence instead of performance. 

Who Can Benefit From a Psychiatric Service Dog?

Service dogs can be the difference between getting through life and enjoying it, and those who experience challenges as a direct result of their disability are among those who can benefit most. The benefits of psychiatric service dogs are indisputable, and individuals with a variety of disabilities can enjoy a better quality of life because of them. 

GO Deeper

How to Get a Psychiatric Service Dog (PSD)

Psychiatric service dogs (PSDs) are are special kind of service dog that assists people with their mental health disabilities. In order to get a service dog, you need to consult with a licensed mental health professional (LMHP) who will confirm you qualify, and then train your PSD.

How Does a Dog Become a Service Dog?

Dogs don’t become service animals overnight. There’s a process to getting your dog legitimately certified as a service dog. While any dog can become a service animal under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) regardless of things like age and breed, there are training requirements in order for them to be considered legal and legit, and be protected under service animal laws.

Service dogs are considered legal and legitimate and protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) once they’ve been properly trained, though they do not have to be professionally trained. You have the option to train your dog yourself or have them trained by enrolling in training courses. There are no official guidelines for who can train a dog to become a service dog, and there are several organizations in each state that can help with different training needs. Of course, you legally have the right and the option to train your service dog yourself.

Service Dog Training Requirements

In order for service dogs to be considered properly trained, they have to undergo certain instructions to meet the requirements for being a service dog and to be protected under the law. Legal protections for service dogs include being able to accompany their handlers in public places, areas that don’t typically allow pets, travel on public transportation, and have access to housing where pets who aren’t service dogs have restrictions. These are the general service dog training requirements:

General Obedience

General obedience for service dogs typically means being able to follow commands consistently, and being comfortable under the control of their handler whether by leash or verbal command. It’s important to have a strong level of trust with any dog in public, particularly with service dogs who are more often than not “on duty” while in public. Service dogs have to be able to reliably follow commands from their handlers and should be able to follow general obedience commands like come, sit, stay, heel, and lie down without fail.

Behavior in Public

Since service dogs are legally allowed to accompany their handlers anywhere people can go, it’s important that they’re able to maintain their behavior in public. Staying calm in unfamiliar situations or environments, following their handlers’ commands regardless of distractions, continuing to do their job, and performing supportive tasks are all essential for service dogs to be properly trained for public access.

Disability Related Service Dog Tasks

Finally, the most important requirement for service dogs is that they’re able to perform disability-related tasks. This means tasks that directly support their handler’s disability, like guiding a person who is blind, physically pulling a person who uses a wheelchair, or sounding the alarm for help when an individual has a seizure.

How to Train a Service Dog

There are typically two options for how to train a service dog. You can choose either in-person service dog training with an individual trainer or group classes, or you can choose online service dog training and train your dog yourself with professional guidance. Both types of training options have pros and cons. To determine which service dog training is right for you, consider things like your dog's previous level of training, their personality, your comfort level in training them yourself or with instruction, your schedule, and your budget.

Online Service Dog Training

Online service dog training is just as effective as in-person dog training and allows for a lot more flexibility. Training a service dog using online courses like those offered by Pettable lets you complete training sessions on your own schedule, move through topics with your dog at your own pace, and is much more affordable than in-person training. Online dog training allows you to choose your focus, your schedule, and your budget.

In-Person Service Dog Training

In-person service dog training can be beneficial for lots of dogs and their owners. Whether you’re receiving individual instruction or joining group training classes, you’ll be able to have a more hands-on experience with service dog training. The cost for in-person service dog training varies depending on your area but is generally two to three times the price of online service dog training. 

GO Deeper

Training a Psychiatric Service Dog: A Complete Guide

Training a psychiatric service dog requires some know-how and expertise, but with the right guidance, anyone is capable. Training a service dog includes teaching them some basic obedience skills as well as training them on a disability-specific task they can perform.

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Susana Bradford
Susana Bradford
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at
Published:
January 12, 2024
April 17, 2023
Discover if Goldendoodles are the ideal breed for your service dog. Explore our comprehensive guide to getting your own service dog and make an informed decision.

Goldendoodle Service Dog - Everything You Need to Know

Service Dogs & Service Animals
Susana Bradford
Susana Bradford
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at
Published:
January 12, 2024
April 14, 2023
Discover if Chihuahuas are the ideal breed for your service dog. Explore our comprehensive guide to getting your own service dog and make an informed decision.

Chihuahua Service Dog - Everything You Need To Know

Service Dogs & Service Animals
Susana Bradford
Susana Bradford
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at
Published:
January 12, 2024
April 17, 2023
Discover if Border Collies are the right breed for your service dog needs with our comprehensive guide.

Border Collie Service Dog - Everything You Need to Know

Service Dogs & Service Animals
Susana Bradford
Susana Bradford
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at
Published:
January 12, 2024
April 14, 2023
Discover if Australian Shepherds are the ideal breed for your service dog. Explore our comprehensive guide to getting your own service dog and make an informed decision.

Australian Shepherd Service Dog - Everything You Need to Know

Service Dogs & Service Animals
Susana Bradford
Susana Bradford
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at
Published:
January 12, 2024
April 17, 2023
Explore our complete guide on German Shepherds as service dogs. Discover if they are the right fit for you and gain valuable insights into service dog ownership.

German Shepherd Service Dog - Everything You Need to Know

Service Dogs & Service Animals
Susana Bradford
Susana Bradford
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at
Published:
January 12, 2024
April 14, 2023
A husky service dog is often not the first choice, due to perceived stubbornness. With effective training, however, a husky can be a good service animal.

Husky Service Dog - Everything You Need To Know

Service Dogs & Service Animals
Susana Bradford
Susana Bradford
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at
Published:
January 12, 2024
April 14, 2023
Discover if Golden Retrievers are the ideal breed for your service dog. Explore our comprehensive guide to getting your own service dog and make an informed decision.

Golden Retriever Service Dog - Everything You Need to Know

Service Dogs & Service Animals
Susana Bradford
Susana Bradford
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at
Published:
January 12, 2024
April 17, 2023
Discover if you qualify for a Psychiatric Service Dog (PSD) with our comprehensive guide. Take our PSD quiz to assess your eligibility and find all the essential information you need.

Do I Qualify For A Psychiatric Service Animal Quiz

Service Dogs & Service Animals
Pettable Staff
Pettable Staff
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at
Published:
January 12, 2024
February 1, 2023

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