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What Is A Psychiatric Service Dog

by Wayne Booth

posted in Pets

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Psychiatric service dog refers to a dog that is specifically trained to help handlers with psychiatric disabilities. It can be of great use to people suffering from schizophrenia or post-traumatic stress disorder.
Traditionally, man and dog have been great friends. Dogs have helped blind people and recently they have been found to be helpful to the deaf persons and those with psychiatric disabilities.
Dogs that are trained to help people with psychiatric disorders will always run and lie on the laps of their handlers and provide the requisite calming pressure. The dog is trained to perform tasks meant at mitigating the handlers' disability. They provide environmental assessment such as paranoia or hallucinations. They signal interruptive, repetitive or injurious behaviors. In some cases, the dog may perform other duties such as reminding the handler to take medication, guide them from situations deemed to be stressful, retrieve objects or brace dizzy handlers.
The dogs could be of any size and from any breed. The dogs perform better when they are trained by professional trainers in collaboration with the handler. Alternatively, the dog may have to go through a service dog programs. Currently, there are many assistant dog organizations that have recognized the need for dogs in helping psychiatric disability victims. The organizations train and support psychiatric service dog handlers.
In the U.S. the psychiatric service dog refers to an emotional support service dog that is allowed to accompany the handler in locations that are accessible to the public regardless of whether the premises' policy allow dogs to enter such premises or not. However, the dog is expected to behave properly and should not interfere with the normal operations that take place in the premise. Behaviors such as barking, defecating, biting, obstructing people or general threat to the public may not be condoned.
People with psychiatric service dogs may face a myriad of problems that other service dog's handlers may not experience. Normally, people suffering from psychiatric conditions may not appear to have a problem and may not be ready to disclose their condition because of the problem associated with the condition. The handlers may also be reluctant to explain their condition or the tasks the dog is trained to perform. The fact that the dog may be of any size or breed, may confuse the public further. It may make people to inappropriately impugn the status of the dog and force the handler to divulge details of their condition.
About the Author: Wayne Booth is owner of Canine Behavior Specialists, in Nashville, TN where he helps people train their dogs and solve behavior problems. Wayne has been teaching people how to become Professional Dog Trainers since 1990 and he is the Training Director of the Canine Behavior Specialists Network,
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