Psychiatric Service Dog Tasks for Anxiety

May 24, 2024

Psychiatric Service Dog Tasks for Anxiety

Anxiety is a debilitating mental health condition that can make everyday tasks, such as going to the grocery store or visiting a close friend, overwhelming and extremely challenging.

However, those with anxiety can experience therapeutic relief through several types of treatment — and one often overlooked treatment type is a psychiatric service dog (PSD).

Today, we’ll discuss what a psychiatric service dog is and how they can improve the wellbeing of people with anxiety. We’ll also discuss the process of obtaining a PSD.

 

What Is a Psychiatric Service Dog?

 

A psychiatric service dog is a working dog who has been specifically trained to perform tasks that ease symptoms of a mental or emotional disability. The trained tasks they carry out can vary, though they can help relieve symptoms, prevent full-blown panic attacks, and even find help in emergencies.

Since a psychiatric service dog is classed as a working dog and offers life-changing support, they’re protected under several federal and state laws. They receive public access rights, are permitted on planes, and receive reasonable accommodation at the workplace.

Psychiatric service dogs also have the right to live with their owners in rented housing without being subjected to pet policies or fees.

 

What Tasks Can a PSD Perform for Anxiety?

 

A psychiatric service dog can be trained to perform a wide array of tasks that help mitigate their owner’s anxiety and make it easier for them to carry out their day-to-day activities.

Some common tasks a psychiatric service dog can perform for individuals with anxiety include:

 

Deep Pressure Therapy

 

A service dog can be trained to perform deep pressure therapy (DPT), where they strategically apply their body weight and warmth onto their handler’s body. This pressure has a calming effect that can help ground their handler and ease symptoms of anxiety. In some cases, deep pressure therapy can even prevent the onset of a panic attack.

 

Find Help

 

A psychiatric service dog can be taught to seek out help if their handler is in crisis and needs medical assistance. They do this by finding the closest person, alerting them of the situation through barks, and then guiding them to their handler’s side.

Psychiatric service dogs can also be taught to open the front door (with a special handle) to let in medical personnel.

 

Help Owner Wake From Nightmares

 

Many people with anxiety unfortunately experience distressing nightmares. A psychiatric service dog can be trained to detect the signs that their handler is having a nightmare, and then wake them up through nudges, barks, or licks. They can then redirect their handler’s attention by applying DPT, bringing them items, or encouraging them to play a game with them.

 

Crowd Control

 

A psychiatric service dog can be trained to place their body between their owner and others in public settings to ensure no one gets too close. This can help their handler feel they always have space to move and walk around, regardless of how busy and crowded the area is.

Crowd control is a particularly useful trained task for individuals who experience social anxiety.

 

Guide to Exit

 

A psychiatric service dog can guide their handler to the nearest exit of the building when they detect the signs of a panic attack. They can then lead them to a quieter area and help to calm them by performing other trained tasks.

 

Search the Room

 

Entering unfamiliar or dark spaces can be an extremely daunting, even panic-inducing task for an individual with anxiety. A psychiatric service dog can help them feel more at ease by entering first and performing a room search, where they walk around the area, check every corner, and then confirm to their handler that it is safe.

 

Medication Reminders

 

People with anxiety often forget to take their medication, especially when they’re feeling overwhelmed and already struggling to manage other day-to-day tasks. A psychiatric service dog can be taught to bring their handler their medication at specific times, which ensures they won’t miss a dose and keep to a consistent schedule.

 

How Do I Get a Psychiatric Service Dog?

 

A psychiatric service dog can give you back control of your life. With the support of a PSD, you’ll be able to carry out tasks your disability previously made impossible to do, take on new and exciting opportunities, and gain more independence.

Anyone with a diagnosed mental or emotional disability that inhibits at least one major life activity is eligible for a psychiatric service dog.

Summary
Psychiatric Service Dog Tasks for Anxiety
Article Name
Psychiatric Service Dog Tasks for Anxiety
Description
Anxiety is a debilitating mental health condition that can make everyday tasks, such as going to the grocery store or visiting a close friend, overwhelming and extremely challenging.
Publisher Name
Healthcare for Pets
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