Many anxiety sufferers do not realize that a canine companion specifically trained to be sensitive and attuned to their emotions is available to help them. Service dogs grant great emotional support on many levels.
If you have been diagnosed with a mental health condition such as post-traumatic stress disorder, depression or chronic anxiety, you will be able to get a service dog, reaping the loving benefits which mans’ best man provides.
Here we’ll be taking you through a look at how to get a service dog for anxiety, detailing the prerequisites and process, while also delving into how service dogs can help anxiety sufferers escape from the clutches of apprehension and fear.
How a Service Dog Can Help You
A service dog for anxiety will be specifically trained to assist anxiety sufferers with a range of tasks, in addition to being a loyal friend. Just as dogs can be trained to be vigilant of seizures, alerting the owner and those around them, those trained to assist anxiety sufferers can help do more than just identify a panic attack occurring. Dogs trained for psychiatric service can help with the following:
- Retrieving medication and water and assisting with swallowing medication during a panic attack
- Retrieving a phone during an anxiety attack
- Helping support and lead you to help during a severe panic attack
- Supportive tactile stimulation eases apprehensive emotional burden
- Gentle pressure placed upon the chest/abdomen during panic attack by your dog results in a calming effect
- During the incoherence of a panic attack, service dogs help you establish boundaries and proximity
- Emotional companionship supplies therapeutic benefits better than drugs
Studies show a deep, profound connection between the emotional well-being of humans and their pets. Human-animal interaction and animal-assisted therapy has been proven to benefit the body and brain’s response to stress while also helping strengthen the immune system, assisting pain management and reducing tendencies for aggression. Pet ownership has been tied to the release of oxytocin, the hormone of love.
Known also as the “bliss hormone,” oxytocin is released by the pituitary gland and directly ties to the sensations and stimulation received when bonding socially, in any supportive way.
The far-reaching psychological effects of the increase in production of oxytocin when bonding with your service dog touches many areas of the body, from combatting autoimmune disorders and systematic infections, to lowering cortisol and blood pressure levels, and healing the gut.
How to Find a Service Dog as an Anxiety Sufferer
To begin the process of getting a psychiatric service dog, you first need to procure a recommendation from your doctor or mental health physician.
Even if you do not view your anxiety as debilitating, you will still reap great benefits from the emotional support of a canine companion trained to help. Whether or not your mental health professional will supply a recommendation, depends entirely on your individual prognosis.
There are two specific classifications of therapy animal by which pets are classified. Emotional support animals are completely different from psychiatric service dogs.
They supply support and comfort primarily, rather than being trained to assist with panic attacks, advanced retrieval techniques, and the range of other therapeutic benefits that psychiatric service dogs supply.
To be permitted a psychiatric service dog, you need to be classified as having a specific anxiety-related disability. The SSA, or Social Security Administration, supplies a comprehensive list of impairments classified as disabilities.
When going about the process of getting a prescription, make sure that your licensed professional devises a clear outline of your need for a service dog. You can then begin to approach reputable service dog organizations, who typically then begin the process of applying for a dog and handler training.
Most reputable institutions who supply service dogs for anxiety will carry out a program of handler training which can span anything between seven and fourteen days. The handler and the dog interact daily, on a continuous basis, teaching the dog to respond to the instructions, commands and gestures of the owner.
The bond between handler and service dog is also established and reinforced. The majority of trainers will take you through daily real-life situations including trips to public parks, shopping areas and restaurants. A complete level of comfort and confidence in every social situation is reached by the completion of handler training.
In addition, training organizations will also ensure that you are competent at taking care of your pet. Numerous field tests are laid out for prospective handlers to pass prior to being certified for a service dog.
Once you have graduated from training you will be generally be awarded a service vest, identification tag and written certification attesting to your ownership. Always ensure that the place which you approach to apply for a service dog adheres to international standards.
Be sure to enquire whether they are ADI, or Assistance Dogs International, compliant. If not, an appropriate local certification should be authoritative, guaranteeing good treatment of these therapeutic animals. You will find that most service dog institutions both breed their own helpers, while training rescues as well. Follow-up training should also always be offered, if needed.
The Cost of a Service Dog
Almost 600-hours of training are estimated to be devoted to each service dog. This comes at a massive cost which is usually greatly compensated for by fundraising efforts. There may be a significant cost to owning a loyal companion focused on your health, however given the actual funds that go into training and feeding, most fees charged are negligible.
You are supplied a steady source of guidance through your journey with your new member of the family, with most dedicated organizations being more than happy to help you in any way that they can, once you have been approved for a service dog.
Practical Perks of Owning a Service Dog
Service dogs are governed by different legislature from conventional pets. The American with Disabilities Act, for example, allows service dogs to accompany their owners everywhere. They are also allowed to stay in no-pet housings when traveling, and they are allowed to fly with their handler in an aircraft.
Your service dog will accompany you through every experience, giving you the emotional freedom to work through your problems whenever you feel open enough, while always giving you the peace of mind in knowing that a reliable helper is always there to support you, even in the worst of times.