Psychiatric Service Dogs - Loyal and Devoted Working Animals

The Role of a Psychiatric Service Dog or PSD

A psychiatric service dog, referred to as a PSD, assists anyone who has a
psychiatric or mental disability. Dogs of this classification provide help for people
who have such mental disabilities as:

-- Bipolar disorder
-- Autism
-- Anxiety
-- Depression
-- Post traumatic disorder
-- Schizophrenia

Emotional Support Animals are used Medically as Well

Besides PSDs, emotional support animals (ESAs) are used for to assist people facing certain stresses emotionally. Emotional support animals therefore provide comfort to patients who suffer from depression as well as the elderly. Where PSDs assist with physical tasks, emotional support animals, as the name suggests, are trained to support the emotional health of the individual.

The Tasks Performed by PSDs

Psychiatric service dogs are used to accommodate their handler's needs by helping them in the following ways:

-- Dogs pick up and retrieve objects if their handler is experiencing a psychosomatic symptom, such as severe fatigue or pain
-- The animals also are used to assist handlers who get dizzy from their medications
-- Dogs wake a handler who has trouble getting out of bed
-- The PSDs also respond to panic attacks or calm a handler who is feeling anxious
-- PSDs remind their handler when to take their medication
-- Dogs are used to distract handlers from obsessive-compulsive behavior brought on by the disorder of the same name

PSDs and Emotional Support Animals Come in all Shapes and Sizes

Dogs that are used as PSDs or emotional support animals can be of any size or breed. In many instances, PSDs are trained by the handler, or the individual whom the dog will be assisting. However, service dog training programs are gradually being formed that emphasize PSD trianing. PSDs are also referred to as medical response dogs or alert dogs, depending on the animal's duties and responsibilities.

Still, Some Dogs are Better Suited for Service Work

While a variety of dogs are used for service work, some dogs are better suited for certain tasks. For instance, you can use a small dog as a hearing dog but it wouldn't be realistic to use this size dog for helping a mobility patient. In that case, you'd have to use a larger-type dog, such as a Labrador. Also, some dogs have temperaments that are more conducive service work as well. That's why Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, and Lab mixes are often used in the service dog field as they exhibit the qualities needed (a calm disposition and high level of intelligence) to do well in this type of work.

Man's Best Friend

PSDs offer specific services to individuals with mental disabilities, just like guide dogs assist the blind, hearing dogs help people who cannot hear, and mobility dogs aid people who are non-ambulatory. PSDs, like other services dogs (SDs), are trained to stay quietly at a handler's side, whether he is dining in a restaurant or is shopping for groceries. Welcome in all public venues, PSDs and SDs have proven why dogs are indeed man's best friend.