What Is A Psychiatric Service Dog?
A Psychiatric service dog is a dog that helps you alleviate the symptoms of your medical condition. These animals are highly trained to assist you in daily tasks that are difficult for you to perform due to your disability.
Service animals are not limited to just dogs. Animals like miniature horses can also become service animals. However, dogs are the primary choice due to their intelligence, trainability, and loving nature.
How To Get A Psychiatric Service Dog in California?
You must obtain a PSD letter from a licensed healthcare professional to acquire a service animal for your medical needs. This letter states that you are experiencing one or more psychiatric disabilities, and your dog is assisting you in this situation.
A PSD letter is official documentation with many other benefits than alleviating medical symptoms. You can travel by airline, live in a building where pets are restricted or have various uses.
Is Dog Training Necessary To Become A Service Animal?
Yes, dog training is necessary to become a service animal. A service animal must be trained to perform specific tasks directly assisting those with disabilities. The tasks may vary depending on the type of disability the service animal is meant to help with.
If your dog is not trained or is under training, it will not consider a service animal. The training ensures that the service animal can reliably and safely
perform the tasks to help their owner with a disability.
How To Train Your Dog To Become A PSD?
There are three options available to train your dog, i.e., self-training, hiring a professional dog trainer, and adopting from a service dog organization. You can choose any of these options based on your needs and lifestyle. Let’s understand more about these available options.
With this affordable add-on, you can have the flexibility of having multiple ESAs, each providing unique emotional support and companionship.
Self-training is challenging, especially if you are new to pet training. It requires commitment, time, effort, and patience. To self-train your PSD, you can use various resources such as books, online tutorials, and videos tailored to service dog training. Remember that self-training may take longer, so be calm.
Hiring a Professional Dog Trainer
Hiring a professional dog trainer can tailor the training program to your needs. They can address specific behavioral issues or training requirements. However, finding someone specializing in service animal training is essential. Look for reviews and recommendations from previous clients to ensure you are selecting a reputable and qualified trainer.
Adopting from an Organization
You may adopt a dog that a reputable service dog organization has already trained. These organizations specialize in training service dogs for various disabilities. Adopting a pre-trained service dog can save effort. However, this option may take time as there could be a waiting list to match you with a suitable dog.
What Things Do You Consider While Selecting A Service Animal?
Before selecting a dog for your service animal, consider some essential factors, such as your disability, needs, lifestyle, and more. This consideration will provide a pleasant experience of having a service animal. Choosing the wrong animal can place an additional burden on your mental health rather than alleviating it. Therefore, carefully weigh the following points while selecting your service animal.
- Understand your disability and how a service animal could assist you in daily tasks and activities.
- Identify the tasks and functions you need a service animal to perform.
- Evaluate your lifestyle, i.e., daily routine and financial status, and consider whether a service animal would fit your lifestyle.
- Consider any allergies that affect your ability to care for a service animal.
- Determine whether your home is suitable for a service animal. Consider factors such as space and access to outdoor areas.
Note: Your dog must be at least 1 year old to become a service animal. However, it must behave well among others and exhibit a friendly and playful nature. These traits are essential for the dogs but ensure a positive experience for the handler and those around them.
Service Animals Laws in California
The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA)
The ADA is a federal law that prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities. The law mandates that public places must allow disabled individuals to bring their service animals. This will help people with disabilities access various public spaces and services with the assistance of their trained service animals.
Fair Housing Act (FHA)
Under Fair Housing Act, a landlord must allow a service animal to live with their owner. Landlords cannot evict or restrict a renter because they have a service animal. Also, landlords cannot ask for a pet deposit because service animals are not considered pets.
If a property does not allow pets, landlords still have to allow PSD if they have a PSD letter from an LMHP (licensed mental health professional) stating their need for the animal.
The Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA)
It’s a federal law that ensures that individuals with disabilities have the right to travel by air with their service animals. They can travel with their service animal in an aircraft cabin without paying extra fees.
What Tasks Should A Psychiatric Service Dog Perform?
Psychiatric service dogs are trained to help their owners function in everyday life. They must assist in retrieving medications, provide deep pressure therapy, and more. Some of the daily tasks they perform include:
- Reminding you to take medication or picking up medicine for you.
- Performing deep pressure therapy in case of emergencies or during an anxiety attack.
- Providing a buffer and guiding you through stressful environments.
- Assisting you in maintaining healthy routines.
- Navigating obstacles, stopping at curbs, and following directional commands.
- Alerting you to specific sounds like doorbells, alarms, or their name being called.
- Retrieving objects, opening doors, and providing stability and support while you walk.
- Sensing when you are about to experience a seizure, enabling necessary precautions to be taken.