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A psychiatric service dog is a specific type of service dog trained to assist their handler with a psychiatric disability, such as major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, autism, anxiety disorders, or schizophrenia. Although assistance dogs classically help with physical disabilities, there are a wide range of psychiatric issues that an assistance dog may be able to help with as well.[1] [2]

Training Edit

Like all assistance dogs, a psychiatric service dog is individually trained to perform tasks particular to their handler's disability. Generally, the majority of the dogs' work is to provide environmental assessment, in such cases as paranoia or hallucinations, or "alerting" behaviors, such as interrupting repetitive or injurious behaviors or reminding the handler to take medication. The dogs may also be trained physical tasks, such as retrieving objects, guiding the handler from stressful situations, or acting as a brace if the handler becomes dizzy.[1] [2]

Psychiatric service dogs may be of any breed or size suitable for public work. The majority of psychiatric service dogs are trained by the person who will become the handler- usually with the help of a professional trainer. However, assistance dog organizations are increasingly recognizing the need for dogs to help individuals with psychiatric disabilities.[3]

Accessibility Edit

In the United States, the Americans with Disabilities Act defines a disability as "a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of the major life activities of such individual,"[4] and therefore allows handlers of psychiatric service dogs the same rights and protections afforded to those with other types of service animals.[5] The Fair Housing Act also allows tenants that have service animals or emotional support animals to stay in housing that has a "No Pets" policy.[6] Note: Some individual state laws may also provide additional guidelines or protection.

See also Edit


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