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Service Dog for PTSD

The Service and Therapy Dog forum is for all service and therapy dogs regardless of whether or not their status is legally defined by federal or state law, how they are trained, or whether or not they are "certified." Posts questioning or disputing a person's need for a service or therapy dog, the validity of a person's service or therapy dog, or the dog's ability to do the work of a service or therapy dog are not permitted in this forum. Please keep discussions fun, friendly, and helpful at all times.

  
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Molly

992169
 
 
Barked: Wed May 20, '09 9:37am PST 
Hello Everyone,
I am a mental health caseworker and I have a client who suffers from acute symptoms of PTSD. In the interest of confidentiality, of course, I cannot provide any more information than this, but we both feel that a service dog would be a great addition to her life. Due to her living situation the dog would have to be a small breed. Cost is also an issue and the dog would basically need to be free of charge. I am sure she would be willing to train the dog to do the tasks she would need it for, but neither of us really know how to do this (I am aware of the fact that a service dog has to be trained to do tasks other than merely comforting its owner). It would probably be ideal if the dog were already trained, but I know this might not be possible, especially considering the financial limitations.

I am wondering if anyone knows of resources or ways to get started on obtaining a service dog for PTSD? Any help is greatly appreciated.
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Ollivander

Super Silver- Service Spoodle
 
 
Barked: Wed May 20, '09 9:54am PST 
I think it is great that you are encouraging your client for this! I am bipolar and have panic attacks, and am currently training my second service dog. My previous service dog is now retired. I would not be able to do what I can today without the help of a service dog.

Have you looked at www.psychdog.org? I would recommend that you as a clinician join the providers listserv (this is a listserv just for mental health professionals to talk about prescribing SDs etc etc). I would recommend that your client join the listserv for people with mental illness. There is a lot of great information there-- click on community from the main PSDS webpage to get to the page where you can submit your info to join the listservs. Look also over the FAQ and the lifestyle pages. There is a lot of great information on these pages about what it is like to have a service dog, and some helpful hints in training or obtaining one.

If you think your patient would do better with a program trained dog, this thread has some links to programs that train PSDs.

http://www.dogster.com/forums/Service_and_Therapy_Dogs/thread/601425

One thing I will say is that if cost is a major issue, a service dog may not be right for your client. Even if you forget about the cost of actually obtaining the dog, having a service dog is expensive. You have to provide good quality food, vet care, there are equipment expendatures etc. Make sure your client is able to afford these things. Also, don't discount a dog because of the price of obtaining one. It is so worth it to save up some money in order to get the right dog. Many programs will allow you to fundraise to get money to obtain the dog, so your client may want to think about this.

Please don't hesitate to ask any more specific questions! I wrote something up a while ago that may help you as well, it is full of links to get more information:

http://www.dogster.com/dogs/167795/diary/Sabrina_the_teenage_female_dog/316550
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Odin - SD

I've never met a- cheese I didn't- like.
 
 
Barked: Wed May 20, '09 9:59am PST 
Have you checked out the Psychiatric Service Dog Society yet?

www.psychdog.org

They have a ton of great info on there to get you started. There's breed info, sample tasks, and an idea of what SD partner life is like. I know many people use a dog for PTSD. A couple things you need to look at is if the person meets the ADA criteria for a person with a disability (tho as a clinician you already know that.) . You also need to make sure the dog has the proper temperament to work in public. Most dogs just can't do it. There are dogs out there from a a chinese hairless crested, to great danes.
Another thing to look at if your client doesn't need a dog with him 24/7, but could use the help relaxing in a home environment is called an emotional support animal (ESA). They don't have public access rights, but are allowed in no pets housing and on airplanes.
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Mordecai-Ret- ired SD

Missing my SD- friends!
 
 
Barked: Wed May 20, '09 10:29am PST 
I use a service dog to assist me with PTSD and panic attacks. Mordecai alerts me to dissociation and my panic attacks. This has been very helpful. I'm glad you are in support of your client as some mental health folks are not supportive of the SD idea. Check out the PSDS folks. Try to learn as much as you can and encourage your client to do the same. If your client wouldn't mind you telling us where they live, we may know someone in that area. I always encourage people thinking of getting an SD to shadow an SD team a few times. It can be quite helpful to see what you are up against.
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Kaylee

Wag more, bark- less!
 
 
Barked: Wed May 20, '09 10:33am PST 
In addition to Psychdog, I would also recommend checking out ServiceDogCentral.org - the people can be a little more abrasive but there's a lot of really good info there, including some folks with PTSD. (I also feel that the Psychdog task list is pretty weak, to be honest.)

In addition to the concerns mentioned above, I would also help your client start thinking up a task list. I know people with PTSD who don't meet the legal definition of disabled as well as many who do, and some of the ones who meet the legal definition have tasks that have to do with other parts of their disability. If she has anxiety issues, I would also seriously consider how access challanges are going to affect her- they're pretty much inevitable, especially if she is set on a small dog. Service dogs are allowed even in no pets housing, so a pet size limit doesn't necessarily have to be a limiting factor.
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Mordecai-Ret- ired SD

Missing my SD- friends!
 
 
Barked: Wed May 20, '09 11:27am PST 
However much I love all the PSDS folks, I do agree with Kaylee on the task list issue. I've thought that for quite a while now. While I very much appreciate the cuddles I get after panicking or dissociating, it's the alerting that I really rely on and count as tasks. I also tend to zone into my own little world on the bus and Mordecai has an uncanny sense for know when our stop is next and informing me. This happily lets me ignore all the triggers on the bus and retreat further into my book and/or music. Also on really depressing days when he's standing at the door with pathetic eyes and looking at his leash, it makes me get my butt out of bed to walk him which is healthy for both of us. I'm not sure if I'd say it's a task, but it does help.
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Bobby

972702
 
 
Barked: Wed May 20, '09 1:00pm PST 
Happy to see you are taking a interest of a SD for ypur client. There are groups that will help with cost etc. You just have to seek them out.
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Gracie - In Loving- Memory

Service with a- Smile! : )
 
 
Barked: Thu May 21, '09 11:27am PST 
If cost is an issue, smaller dogs are much easier to keep. Their food, vet care and supplies are way cheaper. I can keep a few small dogs with the same amount of money it takes to keep 1 large dog.

You are more likely to have access issues with a toy breed, though many PSD are toy breeds. I have a small (not toy)breed SD and have very few problems with access. Plus she is big enough to do retrieving tasks, carry a backpack with supplies and walk on the floor without getting stepped on.

There are ways to save on dog care: Feed a good quality but not super expensive dog food(no supermarket brands), call around and go to a vet that has lower prices, get one good vest with patches and don't worry about buying the latest and greatest dog supplies. There are organizations you can join that offer free heart worm medication, vaccine rebates, microchips and grants in case your SD needs surgery to remain on duty.
Also, get a program trained dog if you can. They generally are cheaper in the long run and you know that they can do their job.
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Taser

R.I.P.
 
 
Barked: Thu May 21, '09 12:24pm PST 
I understand your clients reasons for wanting a small dog but an SD can not be a purse dog, she will not be able to carry her SD it must walk on it's own.

I also want to suggest that your consider all her symptoms and needs regarding an SD as she may find a larger dog more suitable to her those needs. I myself have PTSD, BPD as primary diagnosis amoung many anxiety disorders. Not knowing the true condition of the clients symptoms I suggest you and your client consider whether tasks such as guiding and balance and stability work would be beneficial to the client. My SD, Taser does these task and are benefial to me. Being able to work as a guide dog is critical at times of high anxiety, disassociation, flashbacks, panic, etc... this task training allows Taser to get me home safely, or to a safe place, or to find help for me while protecting me from my surrounding such as traffic in the streets and parking lots and other people. Balance and Sability work are also critical not only due to my physical problems of pain but considering troubles I sometimes have with dizzyness from medication, disorientation, flashbacks, anxiety, and blood pressure changes. A small breed dog would not be able to preform guiding and balance and stability tasks for your client. Just something to consider and discuss with your client while choosing what tasks are important for her continued recovery.
Taser
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Gracie - In Loving- Memory

Service with a- Smile! : )
 
 
Barked: Thu May 21, '09 1:04pm PST 
A small or medium breed-not toy- would still be able to help with some guide work, but of course couldn't offer balance unless the handler is very small. I use a cane to help with balance instead of my service dog and 18lb Gracie is very good at giving me my cane if I drop it. Gracie may be small, but as a bully breed she is very strong.

I find that I just can't deal with having a big dog. They are much harder to bath and to groom and need more exercise than i can easily provide in my home. I am unable to exercise a dog outside during our Michigan winters because of the ice and snow( I slip and fall easily), so having a breed which can be happy indoors is a must for me.
Tuvok, my SDIT, is a rather large Boston Terrier. At 7 months of age he is 24 lbs. He is still small enough to pull into my lap and hug which is something I really like.
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