Psychiatric Service Dogs

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Psychiatric Service Dogs

by Terry Coyier


While psychiatric service dogs are not a household name, they are becoming increasingly popular among people with mental disabilities such as post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), bipolar disorder, depression, agoraphobia, panic disorder, autism, schizophrenia and dissociative identity disorder. These specially trained dogs can provide everything from a simple sense of security to reminders to take medication to alerting professionals when their owner is in need of assistance. In some cases they are literally a lifeline to the outside world, in other cases they offer just enough support to allow a mentally disabled person to function in what society deems as normal.

Service dogs are mainly larger breed dogs and that in itself can provide a sense of security to the owner. Many people will not approach someone with a large dog, making people who are afraid to go out for fear of being assaulted, feel safer. Service dogs are not taught to attack people who may approach their owner, but if the owner's body language changes or a command is given, the service dog can be taught to bark for help, thus drawing attention to any potentially dangerous situations.

A few ways a psychiatric service dog can help the mentally disabled:

* Can remind the owner about taking medication
* Can fetch medication for the owner
* Can bring something to drink so the owner can take medication
* Can bring an emergency phone to owner in case of a crisis
* Can use a K-9 rescue phone to call 911 or other emergency contact
* Can answer the doorbell for emergency personnel and lead them to the owner
* Can bark to alert others in case of an emergency such as a fire or intruder
* Can assist an owner in getting up if they have fallen
* Can steady an owner who is dizzy from medication or a panic attack
* Can be used as an alarm clock for sedated owners
* Can be trained to turn on lights for owners afraid of the dark
* Can alert sedated owner to smoke alarms or doorbells if medication causes drowsiness
* Can help keep space between owner and others in crowds of people

In many instances a service dog provides an owner with the ability to go about their daily lives with minimal worries. For more information on service dogs for the mentally disabled see the following websites:

http://www.iaadp.org/
http://www.dogsaver.org/sdva/
http://www.psychdog.org/

This article has been submitted in affiliation with http://www.PetLovers.Com/ which is a site for Pet Forums.

Terry J. Coyier is a 37-year-old college student studying for an Associates of Applied Sciences degree. She is also a freelance writer who writes about bipolar disorder and other mental illnesses. Terry was diagnosed with bipolar ten years ago. She lives with her son in the Dallas/Ft. Worth Metroplex.

This article has been submitted in affiliation with http://www.PetLovers.Com/ which is a site for Pet Forums.

Terry Coyier - EzineArticles Expert Author



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