PSD...How to?

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.


Barked: Sat Feb 4, '12 10:59pm PST 
So I have been diagnosed with social anxiety disorder by my psychiatrist and am on medication. Basically when I get in social situations it's really hard to speak, and I do nervous behaviors like shaking my legs and scratching my arms.

I have a PW Corgi called Truck. I want to know how I go about getting him to become my PSD. When I'm with him I feel so much more relaxed around people, to the point where I'm almost normal. I know that a service dog has to perform a task, so I've begun training him to nudge me when I start shaking (because I'm not usually aware of it) so I can calm down. He's actually really good at it. I'm also going to train him to alert me when I scratch, too. He already has his CGC, and a CDX title.

So anyway, can anyone give me information about how I can have him legally my PSD? So far I've found that I have to get a letter from my phys. and then my dog will have to pass a public access test. But what else do I have to do? How do I get permission to bring him into public places during his training?

The Boy Wonder
Barked: Sun Feb 5, '12 4:51am PST 
If someone doesn't get to you before I get home from work I'll see if I can't tackle this. In the mean time Psychdog.org has a lot of useful information (and likely everything you are searching for) and is worth taking a look.
Scruffy- Personal Super Dog

Personal Super- Dog
Barked: Sun Feb 5, '12 4:53am PST 
Bob Taylor has a great book, 'How To Train A Psychiatric Service Dog'. It is available on Kindle for $9.99 and you can get the app for your computer or smartone for free. It has awesome instructions on ADA solid tasks and work.

Now there isn't anyone you have to specially get permission from in the United States. Sometimes local and state laws will have you have your dog registered with them and distinguished as a service dog. Mostly those locations have you register any dog though.

A PAT is more of a guide, let's just say standard. It says "my dog's behavior has been proven to be able to go into public areas where other dogs are unable to go." This public access test is actually for your benefit in case your are challenged and you decided to file a complaint/ take or get taken to court. It is not something required to have, but something that if you needed it and did not have, you will wish you did.

Mainly I keep a file. Training logs (I use a week agenda book) Vet info, my medical, PAT video all in one place.

I think I answered everything. I hate you can't see the question while posting.


Barked: Sun Feb 5, '12 9:13am PST 
So all I have to do is get approval from my psychiatrist and then I can buy a vest and take my dog in public places for training? Then when he's ready (six months?) I take the PAT?

So then if I don't have to do anything legally to have him as a PSD, if I'm challenged do I have to prove to a court or something that he alerts?

I miss you, U
Barked: Sun Feb 5, '12 10:02am PST 
So all I have to do is get approval from my psychiatrist and then I can buy a vest and take my dog in public places for training? Then when he's ready (six months?) I take the PAT?

Since he already knows one task, legally he's already an SD (although you're right that it would be helpful to have him able to demonstrate his task(s) in court). And given that he has a CDX, it's obvious that he's had a lot of training and knows how to behave himself in public.

* Getting a letter from your psychiatrist or therapist is optional, but recommended if possible. (Some people can't afford mental health care; others have pdocs/tdocs that are unfamiliar with or don't approve of PSDs.)

* You can take a PAT if you want when you feel that he is ready, but again, it's not a requirement.

* A vest is also not a requirement, but many people find that it cuts down on access challenges.

This the law (paraphrased from the ADA itself): A service animal is any animal trained to do a task and/or work to mitigate an individual's disability. So your dog qualifies already. I think it is a GOOD thing to take those optional steps and encourage you to do so, but just keep in mind that they are optional.

So then if I don't have to do anything legally to have him as a PSD, if I'm challenged do I have to prove to a court or something that he alerts?

It's rare for an SD handler to end up in court, and the most likely reason for doing so is that the handler himself/herself wants to fight an access challenge.

If you run into an access challenge when entering a public accommodation such as a store, it is best to try to educate the gatekeeper. Many handlers carry with them a copy of the ADA Business Brief on service animals for this reason. If the gatekeeper still denies you access, ask to speak with the store manager. If you are STILL denied access, call the police. If none of these work, leave - and if you want, pursue the matter in court. Your local disability services legal center can help you.

Be aware, however, that gatekeepers may still ask you leave once you are in the store (again, this is rare). There are two reasons that they can do this: 1) the SD is out of control and the handler does not take immediate action to control it, or 2) the dog pees or poops. If you are asked to leave it is best to do it; however, if you feel that the exclusion was unlawful, you may pursue the matter through the courts.

I hope this is helpful!

The Boy Wonder
Barked: Sun Feb 5, '12 10:24am PST 
The first thing you need to do is sit down with your Psychiatrist and determine if you meant the definition of Disabled under the ADA. Having a disability can be a different thing than disabled as per the ADA, which defines disabled as having a medical, physical, or mental impairment which substantially limits one or more major life activities. I recommend that you look over the ADA and read it in it's entirety because as a SD handler you will often be questioned and it is best to educate you so you can educate others, and easily answer challenges. When talking to your Psychiatrist you need to be realistic with yourself about your disability. You need to write out a list of how it affects you and list things you think a dog can do to help you, you'll need this list later. Psychdog.org has a task list which is a place to start but don't feel constricted by it. You need to be willing to be flexible to best help yourself.

Second I would take the step to get your dog's temperament evaluated because it is a rough thing to get into training and realize that your dog is unsuited to service work. Keep in mind though that even if your dog does wonderful on the temperament test there still may be something that causes you to wash out your dog. You need to be very realistic at this point with yourself (this isn't me saying your dog Isn't cut out for it, simply that you need to be honest with yourself on this).

Third, find a trainer that has worked with Service dogs (this part can actually come before the second since this trainer Can evaluate your dog realistically). You will need the support of other's who have trained dogs before and done it successfully to get yourself out of trouble and look to for advice if you get stuck.

Now you need to start proofing basic behavior's : Sit, Down, loose lead heel, and expose yourself and your dog to pet friendly places to make sure that your dog will still respond to your commands under distraction. You need to start training logs at this point. Keep detailed notes about each behavior and try to test with as many distractions as possible. Look at different versions of the Public Access Test and use that as a guideline of the behaviors that you will need to train. I am guessing this will go fast since your dog is already at the stage where he has passed CGC and is firm in obedience but you do need to make sure for yourself that he will still listen in public places and places of high distraction since most CGC's and obedience rings are very structured. I've seen a number of dogs that were highly competitive in obedience but couldn't walk down the street on a loose lead... the second is more important than the first for service work because you never know where you are going to find yourself.

Remember that proposed task list from above... now is the time to start in on task training, you'll be able to test some of the tasks in pet friendly places to see how they actually help you, you may need to modify what you're initial task list included. You will find that some things will help, other's will not. Remember you still need to log All of this training. If you are ever in court these will likely come up. If you are working with a trainer you can get them to sign off that they have helped you, and witnessed your training (it's always best to prepare for court even if you're lucky and never have to deal with a dispute).

Now that you have a good start on task training, and you are proofed on basic behaviors it is time to get that vest. There are a number of places to get them, I generally recommend Activedogs.com, they have been really good in the past on helping me with any ordering and actually put velcro on one of my vests/patches so I could move from In Training to Service Dog which was a huge help. There are a Number of threads here on vests if you do a quick search.

Now things deviate, it depends on your state laws on if you have public access rights with an in-training dog, so you will have to look into state law on that. If you have in training rights for yourself start taking him out with you ...

I'm more than willing to answer any questions if you'd like and Happy and I wish you well.

Edit : I would like to note, that yes No Name is right.. if your dog already knows a task and behaves in public he Is a service dog. I think you'd do well to spend a bit of time on this and make if formal but it shouldn't take much polish (I'm guessing you could have all of this done within a month or two at most and that you are already partly on my list but I like to include it all in case someone else reads my post and takes it at face value without reading what I'm posting To)

Edited by author Sun Feb 5, '12 10:28am PST


Barked: Sun Feb 5, '12 10:29am PST 
Visit the site happy posted, it's excellent and full of what you need to know.
I had some other info typed out, but i see dee dee has got it.
When i first joined ollivanders mum posted me this, which was very helpful-

Step 1: Talk with your doctor, verify your disability, and discuss what work or tasks a dog could do to assist you. Talk with other service dog owners about the pros and cons of living with a service dog, reading these webpages for more information http://www.psychdog.org/lifestyle.html and http://www.psychdog.org/faq.html

Step 2: Find a trainer and have your dog temperament tested to make sure they are likely to make it as a service dog-- any sign of aggression in a dog's past (towards humans or other animals) is unacceptable in a service dog candidate in my opinion. Talk with the trainer and/or a vet to be sure your dog can safely do the work/tasks needed to assist you. Also have your dog examined by a vet to make sure they are healthy enough to work. If you don't have a dog, or your dog is not suitable for service work, read this article for help deciding what breed and where to get the dog: http://www.psychdog.org/lifestyle_ChoosingDog.html and hire a professional trainer to help you pick a dog.

Step 3: Master basic obedience at home, in local parks, in petstores, and in other dog friendly stores-- some hardware stores and bookstores will allow pets, call and ask. Make sure to start keeping a training log of what you are doing, how your dog is doing with obedience, public access and assistance behaviors.

Step 4: Once your dog is pretty much able to pass the CGC (in other words could do it with the use of a few treats, or could do it all except for the leaving the dog alone bit) purchase a vest and in training patches, and visit the places in step 3 with the vest on. If you haven't already started training tasks/work, start that now, too.

Step 5: Gradually visit more and more difficult environments-- saving places with lots of crowds, food etc for later. Train to the public access standard on the PSDS website.

Step 6: If you live in a state with SDIT protection, spend another few months in training just to make sure you're both really comfortable with whatever comes up. Really, it's not a race!

Step 7: Take a public access test like the one here http://www.psychdog.org/attach/Public_Access_Standard_Test_Sheet.pdf and have someone videotape it if possible. If you don't have a trainer who can give the test, have a friend do it. The idea is that your dog should be able to perform these things, and if you ever have a court case, video proof of this may be helpful, or at least a letter from a trainer saying that you did the things.

Also, PSDS has an owner training standard that lists the steps in a slightly different format here:


ETA: I see Happy's back, lol, you're in safe hands now! Goodluck getting started.

Edited by author Sun Feb 5, '12 10:33am PST


Barked: Sun Feb 5, '12 10:42am PST 
Thank you guys so so much. I am going to make sure my dog can alert 100% at home and in dog-friendly places before I start with stores and such. That way I can avoid any problems that may occur. I will also talk with my doctor about me being classified as disabled, and I am going to make a list of things my dog can do for me. I'll also provide him with information from the PSD website. I actually used to work at a dog training club, so having a trainer work with me shouldn't be a problem. Again, thank you.

I miss you, U
Barked: Sun Feb 5, '12 10:49am PST 
Here is a terrific document about evaluating disability under the ADA:


It's long and kind of dry, but very much worth reading.

Future Service- Dog
Barked: Sun Feb 5, '12 11:31am PST 
I think everyone else has already covered the questions you asked, but I just wanted to say that it's great to see a responsible handler going at this the right way, asking the right questions, and going through the steps.