Panic attacks are symptoms of mental health disorders such as anxiety, depression, PTSD, chronic stress, OCD, and even extreme phobias. These attacks can be very difficult to control, and psychiatric service dogs are becoming more popular to help deal with them.
What is a Psychiatric Service Dog?
A Psychiatric Service Dog is a service dog trained to help its owner with mental issues such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), depression, schizophrenia, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), anxiety, or bipolar disorder. They can assist their handler in many ways.
How can a Psychiatric Service Dog Help Someone With Panic Attacks?
Psychiatric service dogs are extensively trained to perform specific tasks to meet the individualized needs of their handler and are permitted access to public places in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
There are multiple ways for a psychiatric service dog to help someone suffering from panic attacks, such as:
They can be trained to locate a person or place to calm or help the handler in distress.
They can use touch or gentle pressure to provide calm and comfort to a handler that is in distress.
They can help to ground their owner back to a present state when they are having a panic attack.
They can retrieve medication that may be needed.
They can help limit self-destructive behaviors by distracting their owner or guiding them to do something else.
Training a Psychiatric Service Dog
When training a psychiatric service dog, you must have patience and dedication. It is a great idea to train your own service dog, but if you aren't comfortable doing so, you can buy a pre-trained psychiatric service dog too. They do cost a lot of money, however, and you can be on a waiting list from a few weeks to even a few years.
Your psychiatric service dog must always be under the control of its handler. Under the ADA rules, your service dog should be leashed, harnessed, and tethered at all times unless that would interfere with its work.
Qualifying for a Psychiatric Service Dog
In order to be eligible for a psychiatric service dog, you must have a mental disability that limits one or more major life activities. As Well as having a mental, psychiatric or intellectual disability, the handler must need a task-trained dog to assist with their condition.
If your service dog doesn't perform a specifically trained task to assist you with your disability, it is not a service dog, it is an emotional support dog. Emotional support dogs provide more comfort and companionship.
How to Get a Psychiatric Service Dog
In order to get a service dog, you must be prescribed one by a mental health professional such as a doctor, psychiatrist, or psychologist. You can then buy a dog that is a good fit for a service dog and train it yourself. You can follow our courses here at Service Dog Training School for a step-by-step guide! If you are not comfortable training your own, you can buy a trained one or send your dog to a professional trainer.
How Much Does a Psychiatric Service Dog Cost?
If you are looking to get a trained psychiatric service dog, you are looking at costs from around $20,000 to $30,000. This is very expensive and may not be possible for some people. This is another reason why it is recommended to train your own as it is much cheaper and is a great bonding experience.
Best Psychiatric Service Dog Breeds
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
If your dog isn't one of these breeds and you want them to be your psychiatric service dog, you can still accomplish that with the right time and training!