Types of Service Dogs

that we train

Psychiatric Service Dogs

Psychiatric Service Dogs assist those with “invisible disabilities” such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), chronic depression, bi-polar disorder, anxiety disorders, social phobias, autism, and developmental delays.  Many of our applicants have experienced trauma from physical or sexual abuse or assault, suffer from anxiety or social phobias that limit their independence and capacity to function in public, have trauma from combat (veterans), or suffer from chronic psychiatric conditions that have limited their ability to thrive in society.  Service tasks taught for such conditions include: signaling for behavior, such as nudging when dissociating; standing between the guardian and others when in public to increase personal space; performing behaviors that give the appearance of being protective, such as “watch my back” (though service dogs are never taught to actually be protective or perform guarding behaviors); turning on lights before entering a dark room; deep pressure therapy; entering and searching a home before the guardian enters; interrupting panic attacks in a way that ‘grounds’ the guardian in the moment; waking the guardian from nightmares; waking guardian from oversleeping; reminding guardian to go to bed; locating objects (keys, phone, car, etc.); interrupting repetitive or self-destructive behaviors; and alerting guardian to unhealthy behaviors.

Medical Alert Dogs

Specialized tasks taught focus on teaching dogs how to react when the symptoms of a medical condition occur.  Medical Alert Service Dogs assist with conditions such as traumatic brain injury (TBI) and seizure disorders. Responses may include bringing a phone so that their guardian can call for help; staying by their guardian’s side; laying across their guardian’s body; barking to alert someone to the guardian’s condition; licking face of semi-conscious or unconscious guardian in order to rouse them; or finding another person to render assistance. Many dogs are able to warn their guardian of an impending medical event, such as a seizure, however this is not something that can be trained until the dog shows a natural ability for understanding the event. If the dog does naturally alert their guardian, this behavior is reinforced to encourage it happening reliably.

Mobility Service Dogs

Mobility service dogs assist people with mobility challenges by bringing a guardian’s belongings, retrieving dropped items, turning on lights, and opening doors.

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