Are There Skills a Service Dog (Not a “Therapy” Dog) Can Be Taught To?

Question by Private P: Are there skills a Service Dog (Not a “Therapy” Dog) can be taught to?
Assist a person with severe depression? And what types of dogs would be best?

Best answer:

Answer by CanineTruth
If you have a severe condition in which a dog would be a benefit to your life (IE actually helps you with tasks) then you must have a psychiatrist and/or doctor write you some sort of letter confirming your “disability” and why you need such an animal. Then you can find different training aids in your area (courses, online, etc) to help train your dog.

Or you file for a dog from an appropriate service dog organization.

A Psychiatric Service Dog (PSD) is what you would use in this case, NOT a typical “service animal.” Wether or not a PSD is a service animal is questionable as ANYONE can claim they need one. However if you do not have support from a psychiatrist or psychologist you CAN be barred or the dog may not be counted as a “service animal.”

“Only a judge has the authority to decide whether or not you are disabled under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA). A judge generally makes such a determination when a civil, criminal or administrative legal case is filed with the court and it has been determined that the ADA is the appropriate law for the case. What this means for you in practical terms, is that in the absence of credible disability documentation, your planned use of a service dog rests entirely upon your own assumption of disability. If this makes you feel vulnerable, then your instincts are right on.”

“Using a PSD without appropriate supportive documentation is legally risky…Ask your doctor to support your decision to begin using a PSD, by writing you a generic letter of disability and support for using a PSD. This generic letter should be kept on file, in case you have legal problems in the future. Understand that a generic letter is not necessarily the appropriate letter for every situation.

Note: One should not use this letter, in order to gain access to places of public accommodation. To do so, is to teach gatekeepers that all Service Dog teams must show such a letter in order to access public spaces, and that simply is not the case. A doctor’s letter of disability and support for your use of a PSD is critical legal protection and should be retained in your personal files. Do not skip this step!”

If you do not qualify for a PSD you can try an Emotional Support Animal: “‘You may want to consider keeping an Emotional Support Animal (ESA)’. This is a pet that is owned by a disabled person. ESA are not “individually trained to do work or perform tasks” that assist you with your disability. They are pets, not Service Animals. ”

“There is no specific breed or dog size requirement for PSD. ”

“First, a PSD should be trained in basic obedience (e.g., sit, stay, come, down, go, leave it, etc.). Basic obedience instruction should employ verbal commands and hand signals. Training should be conducted, both, on and off-leash, first in low distraction environments moving gradually to higher distraction environments. Cap basic obedience with passage of the Canine Good Citizen test”

“Second, train for public access skills (i.e., behavior in public places such as restaurants, theaters, library, buses, subway, etc.). You should engage in at least six months of public access training with your dog. When you feel your dog is ready, put yourself and your dog through our public access test…”

“Third, teach the dog a few disability-related tasks (see task list for examples) and/or learn how to articulate your dog’s “work”. Start by describing the symptom you are dealing with. It needs to be a valid symptom that is characteristic of your specific disorder (see the DSM-IVTR). Then, describe in slow-motion how you interact with your dog in a way that mitigates the symptom. While describing these interactions, focus on and identify the trained behaviors that make this form of assistance possible, no matter how simple or complex those trained behaviors may be.”

There is tons more on training required for PSDs on the link below:

Add your own answer in the comments!



Magnetic therapy can ease depression, doctors say

Filed under: depression therapy

The process, called transcranial magnetic stimulation, was approved by federal regulators in 2008 for treatment of depression. The treatment has skeptics, and few insurers cover it. But supporters point to studies that suggest it can help people whose …
Read more on USA TODAY


Treatment may help some with depression

Filed under: depression therapy

One psychiatrist calls TMS therapy a “revolutionary” treatment for depression. Another is more cautious, calling it “welcome.” Joanne Malia says transcranial magnetic stimulation is a “miracle.” The 70-year-old Williamstown resident lost three of her …
Read more on Cherry Hill Courier Post


Keep It Simple – Identifying Risk Factors for Depression

Filed under: depression therapy

Identifying the risk factors for depression can provide early treatment and hopefully help prevent the negative consequences of future episodes. Daniel N. Klein of the Department of Psychology at Stony Brook University in New York wanted to extend …
Read more on (blog)


Jesse Jackson Jr. says he has "bipolar II depression": What is bipolar II?

Filed under: depression therapy

Antidepressants Seroquel and Seroquel XR are FDA-approved to treat bipolar disorder type II depression, reports WebMD, but other common antidepressants like Prozac, Zoloft and Paxil are sometimes prescribed. Therapy sessions may also be beneficial for …
Read more on CBS News


More Depression Therapy Information…