Service Dogs Part 2: Psychiatric and Medical Response Dogs

Friday, August 31, 2012

This is the second part of our discussion surrounding Service Dogs, as previously we discussed dogs which help people with mobility issues. Today we are going to talk about Service Dogs which help people with with psychological or mental health issues, and also discuss medical response dogs.

Service Dogs can be trained in a variety of tasks to help their owners and thus they can help people with all kinds of conditions, such as PTSD, anxiety and panic disorders, depression, diabetes, epilepsy and more! According to Joan Froling, Service Dog trainer, there are four main tasks that dogs can do to help assist people with psychiatiatric disabilities or medical conditions. 

1. Bring Medication and Assist in Emergency Situations
  • Dogs can be trained to retrieve medication from a specific location, whether it be a special bag, cupboard or even in a hotel room or dresser
  • Bring a beverage from the fridge to swallow the medication
  • Bring the phone if it is an emergency, or call 911 with a K-9 rescue phone
  • Summon help from a family member or co-worker
2. Treatment Related Assistance
  • Dogs can be trained to remember what time their owner needs to take their medication, they can remind with a nudge or ask to be fed themselves
  • Carry a card for when their owner has a speech impairment that may be related to their condition or medication - the dog can give the card to other people so they know what is happening
  • Alert a sedated person of a doorbell, smoke alarm, or someone else in distress

3. Help Cope With Emotional Overload
  • Provide stimulation: being with their owner after a night terror or hallucination can serve as an affirmation of reality, vigorously licking their owners face can help bring the person back to full awareness of their surroundings 
  • For children with autism, a dog can be trained to constantly nudge their owner to help bring them out of inappropriate repetitive behaviour
  • The dog can turn on lights, TV or initiate a game to break the grip of obsessive thoughts or memories
  • Help find an exit for their owner to get out of a stressful situation or panic attack
  • By applying pressure on their owners - usually through sitting on their chest - they can impose a calming effect on their owners who may be having an anxiety or panic attack

4. Enhance the Personal Security of their Owner
  • Asking their dog "who's there?" allows for them to have their fears alleviated if they are feeling anxious about an intruder being present
  • Bringing an emergency phone to call a friend of 911 when their owners are feeling fearful
  • Keep suspicious strangers away
  • Using teamwork in public to alert the owner of others approaching or to watch owner's back when using an ATM or check out stand

Once again we would like to note that if you see a service dog in public, please don't approach the dog without the owner's permission. Service Dogs which help with mental health conditions or chronic illnesses are working and provide their owners with a measure of security and distracting them could have serious consequences. 

Also remember that these dogs are helping people with invisible disabilities and to act respectfully. Simply because a person isn't blind, or have a mobility issue related to a physical disability, doesn't mean they rely on their Service Dog any less. 


At 14 February 2018 at 01:46 , Blogger Robert F. Crocker said...

Interesting post. I Have Been wondering about this issue, so thanks for posting. Pretty cool post.It 's really very nice and Useful post.Thanks


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