Author Topic: Should I have my dog be a service dog?  (Read 1651 times)

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Offline karinadarling

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Should I have my dog be a service dog?
« on: May 13, 2017, 03:25:48 AM »
Hello! I have DID (it's been mild lately since I am no longer with my ex who was the main trigger), depression and anxiety. My anxiety gets to the point where I just do not go to school. My grades have suffered greatly because I can't have people behind me (so I move to the last row so I know for a fact it's just a wall behind me) and I begin shaking uncontrollably, people will point it out and I just brush it off as I'm cold. A professor offered to let me bring my dog and see what difference it would make (this only happened once) and it made a whole difference. She sat underneath the whole time and I found myself relaxed and actually paying attention to the lecture. I ended up getting through the whole class without abruptly leaving and asking what I missed. Having her there made the biggest difference. When I'm at the store, I start feel like I have blurred vision. I just become extremely dazed. I have such. Ad anxiety that I end up just doing home and waiting for my boyfriend so he could go with me which is obviously not possible 24/7 as we have our own lives. I can't go out because of the same thing, anxiety. So I began to to bring my dog along and she's made a big difference. Once I start shaking she immediately sits up and puts her head on my lap and stares at me until I stop same with scratching my wrists to the point I'm bleeding. I understand that companion is not a task. There's more but I'm not going to a write a novel!
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Offline Suse

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Re: Should I have my dog be a service dog?
« Reply #1 on: May 13, 2017, 08:50:58 PM »
Would your doctor say you are disabled?  Not being able to function is an indication. 

Some of your symptoms are symptoms of my PTSD also. I am finally, after years of having to sit with my back to a wall, even with my SD, being able to consciously sometimes choose a table where I am father from a wall, even though I am still vigilant about what is going on around me, and my SD is still with me.  It is actually exciting indication of some improvement after 18 years. 

Offline karinadarling

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Re: Should I have my dog be a service dog?
« Reply #2 on: May 18, 2017, 04:10:30 PM »
I didn't want to reply right away since you had a good question at the beginning. I talked to my therapist & asked her the same question. She said "yes in a matter of fact, I do. What can I do to help you with this?" So now that's what I'm wondering. She has approved, I have the same dog from last year. She thinks it will be best if I do the "therapy" way since my high anxiety area is school/college. School knows of my situation, just, what do I do now?
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Offline ccunnin3

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Re: Should I have my dog be a service dog?
« Reply #3 on: May 18, 2017, 08:12:42 PM »
To clarify something you said, are you already bringing your dog into public places with you?
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Offline swimmergirl247

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Re: Should I have my dog be a service dog?
« Reply #4 on: May 20, 2017, 01:21:02 AM »
firs your doctor has to declare that you are legally disabled. once that has been done then you can worry about the rest.

first some genral questions just to know what we are dealing with
what kind of dog do you have?
how old is it? and "big is it?
how much basic training does he/she have.

there are twotypes of assistive animals emotional support animals which are "prescribed pets" you must be disabled to have one, theya re allowed to live in non pet housing, and fly, but are NOT allowed int the general public unless you have specail permission.

the second is a service dog, which is trained specifically to negate your symptoms, and help you cope with your disablity. such as warning if if you are getting anxious, "blocking", letting you know if somebody is coming up from behind, helping with balance, or finding an exit of a place when you are panicing and can't think etc.

the biggest and most improtant difference is the training. service dogs will provide emotional support its a given, but it can't be the "ONLY" things they dog that helps to qualify to be allowed in public with you at all times.

the robot annogoly is a really helpful tool figuring out which option you need. think if you had a fully functional robot, what things can that robot do that would help you cope day to day? if you can come up with a few things, then a service dog is probability more what you need. but if you can't come up with things that don't simply get better by having he dog prescient than that would be an ESA. for both things you need a prescription written.

there are three major things to consider when heading down this road
1. ESA's are a treatment tool, where as a service dog is management tool and should only be considered after a long time in treatment and either hitting a point you can't seem to improve beyond, the reason for this is because you can become dependent fairly easily on the service dogs presence and can prevent rather recovery if you still feel there is some chance. that being said you need to be confident in coping skills and strategies to work with your service dog.
2. its not the title or the prescription that makes the dog a service dog nor is it the "gear" its the fact you are disabled and your dog is highly trained to directly negate your disability.
3. while many people find having a dog helps alot in easing anxiety, building confidence etc. it can also be a double edge sward because you are way more likely to run into more access disputes, and attention in gneral, people will come up and ask invasive questions, want to mess with the dog, and because your disablities are inadvisable you will also likefly run into more access disputes than somebody like me who's disablity is very visible.

hope this info helps!   
Theodore(Teddy)SD you truly gods gift to me.
Abigail(retired SD you may not physically be with me but your wings and protection will always be in my heart.
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Offline Suse

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Re: Should I have my dog be a service dog?
« Reply #5 on: May 20, 2017, 10:26:15 PM »
I am confused by your answers and questions. You said "She [therapist] thinks it will be best if I do the "therapy" way since my high anxiety area is school/college."   If your problem is in school/college, and that is where you need your dog, then a 'therapy dog' is not what you need at all because they have no public access rights.  I think perhaps both you and your therapist are confused.

Study the difference between a
* Service Dog
* Therapy Dog
* Emotional Support Animal

Therapy Dog
- Taken basic obedience
- Passed Canine Good Citizen (CGC) for most TD programs
- Certified as a Therapy Dog
- No public access rights. 
- They provide comfort to others not their handler - except for being a pet.

Offline karinadarling

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Re: Should I have my dog be a service dog?
« Reply #6 on: May 23, 2017, 11:58:57 AM »
@Suse, I know all of the differences and so does she. We're just trying to find the right route. This is why I ask for help, we're not sure what to do. Medication did not work out whatsoever, it has only made me worse so I am no longer taking medications, I have been trying different ones since I was 14, I am 19 now. Medication is not the answer. Therapy, same, I have gone to therapy since I was like 10, I can talk about my problems but how can it help me when I'm outside? I've tried mediating before leaving, I've tried breathing exercises, I've tried changing my diet, I've tried exercise, I've tried so many other alternatives and it has come down to service dog.  But you did point out that therapy dogs provide comfort for others not their handelr so I personally was wrong in that.

@Swimmer, I have an American Staffordshire Bull Terrier, 1 year & 6 months, shei s smalelr than average pitbulls, she's barely taller than a pug but is definitely longer. She has passed her baisc obedience. I understand all of that, this is where I need the help. I've run out of alternatives (my reply to Swimmer)

@Cc, No, it was only one place which was college/school, the psychology teacher asked the school for permission before letting me bring her on campus, it worked out, they just don't want to let this happen often because she isn't a service dog, they just wanted to provide some support to see if it would help but are willing to let her back if she is a service dog in training or a therapy dog (most likely not since that's to help others, not me). When I said started bringing her with me I mean I started bringing her over to friends because I couldn't even go see my friend without panicking. I thought I mentioned that but I must've left that out.

SO sorry for the late response guys, I've been busy.
« Last Edit: May 23, 2017, 12:01:30 PM by karinadarling »
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Offline Summertime.and.Azkaban

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Re: Should I have my dog be a service dog?
« Reply #7 on: May 23, 2017, 01:22:24 PM »
What types of therapy have you tried?

It saddens me so see you decide therapy can not help at all. There are a lot of different types of therapy available to treat disorders developing from a trauma.

Also, we've discussed this before on the forum recently, you must be receiving some form of treatmemt to be considered disabled by a psychiatric illness. Therapy, medication, or just monthly check ins with a mental health care professional all count as treatment. But if you are not being treated at all, then the court is likely to rule you are not disabled by mental illness and are not qualified for a SD.
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Offline karinadarling

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Re: Should I have my dog be a service dog?
« Reply #8 on: June 01, 2017, 01:27:35 PM »
@Summeetime, I will always go to therapy & it does help to get things off my chest. But when it comes to the outside world it doesn't really help. & I am seeking treatment, I've been with this therapist for about a year now.
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Offline swimmergirl247

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Re: Should I have my dog be a service dog?
« Reply #9 on: June 01, 2017, 05:10:39 PM »
I know this may sound harsh but I really do think reis still very possible. I've been trying different medications combinations since I was 16 I'm now 26 and just "now" (as in the last six months) have found the "right" combo to keep me stable. I also think if therarpy isn't helping and your coping skkills aren't growing how are you going to be able to work and deal with a service dog? that being said having an ESA will not hurt you at all.

regarding your dog in question age isn't an issue breed would very well be. the reason any bully breed was breed for protection and can easily  get drawn into your anxiety instead of being helpful, and could instead become hurtful. To be clear put ANY dog with a  person with serious mental illness and your run the same risk but breed does make certain risks higher. just remember emotions travel down leash. most dogs fallow the owners lead, some does are even more hair triggger (nervous) what you will need is a dog who recognizes your emotions but at the same time doesn't get rolled up into it. this is hard to find it is not a guarantee but your are much more likely to have this issue with a bully breed, or herding dog than a lab.

the type of temperament you want for an ESA is pretty much opposite in this case you WANT the dog to sense your emotionasl and want to comfort you/distract you whatever. a PSD does this too, but they tend to be more detacted. for esample when I'm freaking out my dog Teddy (not trained a PSD BUT does have the bomb proof temperament necessary to work with my changing moods) he will come lay on the bed next to me or allow me to pet him but he desont' lick my tears away, climb all over me etc. he wants to be with me but would much rather be told what to do to help instead of just sitting there as hug him. 

the other issue is the fact your dog is a BSL breed. which I hate they are very nice dogs and can and do make good service dogs for some. but the public may have other ideas. for perspective I have a poodle and prior to that I had a black lab BOTH of them I still get plenty of people "terrified" by them and I have to deal with it even though I know my dog will never hurt a fly and I have the right to be in public. I'm talking at least 3 times per outing I get negative comments, and about 20 positive one's, and about 10 "stop invasive questions" events. this one trip to walmart for 5 items example. again my disability is clearly visable and I have a relatively standard service dog breed  it will just add an additional level complications it may be worth it for you it may not that is where the personal decision comes in.


assuming you move forward with making your current dog a service dog, at minimum I'd suggest

1. find a dog trainer that knows what they are doing
2. have your dog earn the CBC then continue though advance training
3. figure out what tasks you want your dog to learn (tasks are like chips if you are truly disabled it shouldn't be hard to come up with 2-3 "hard" tasks)
4. work with your training on teaching, proofing and finalizing tasks.
5. be a wear that your dog may be a great pet but not a great service dog., and being willing and able to "wash" him/her out of training as soon as the dog is getting stressed, showing inapprapate behavior, or just frankly  doesn't enjoy it.
6. talk with your thearpist about coping mechmizms you can use in conjunction WITH the dog. having a service dog is a team effecrot they don't do all the wrok. its there job to do there tasks and obey, and its your job to act as there protector, and listen to what they say and hold up your end of the deal.

your other option might be hiring the trainer if she she doesn't think your current dog can be a good SD candidate then they may be able to find a more applicable option, but that means more money.

I hope this helps you make an informed decision good luck!




Theodore(Teddy)SD you truly gods gift to me.
Abigail(retired SD you may not physically be with me but your wings and protection will always be in my heart.
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Offline Poedog

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Re: Should I have my dog be a service dog?
« Reply #10 on: June 01, 2017, 07:29:17 PM »
What types of therapy have you tried?

EMDR is a wonderful type of therapy for trauma. CBT and DBT can be helpful, as well. To be completely honest, as someone who has been in a lot of therapy, and as someone who is going to school to be in the mental health profession, I don't see much benefit for someone who has experienced trauma in just "talk therapy". You can sit and chat about what happened all day and it can help to an extent, but it isn't giving you actual concrete skills to use in the real world (as CBT and DBT do) or "rewiring your brain" (as EMDR does).

If you have not tried the above (or other types) of therapy, I strongly suggest you do. I know how exhausting it is to feel like you've tried it all and nothing works; I have felt the same way (and still currently do). I never had medication work for me, have done so much therapy, etc. but EMDR really has helped me the most. I am still struggling, but it did give me the most improvement and I know people who have used it to combat trauma and it has seriously changed their lives. I don't currently have a service dog (just an ESA for now), so take what I say going forward with a grain of salt but; having a service dog is a LOT of money to train, even if you owner train, if you don't have any experience with it. It's tiring. It also would cause a lot of people to point, stare, etc. My friend had a psychiatric service dog for 7 years and he helped her SO much, but she was constantly dealing with people barking at her when she was in stores, stopping her every two minutes to ask about him, people being rude, etc. That is not to discourage you at all, and again, this is not speaking from personal experience, just from people I know and this forum. But I would highly suggest considering another form of therapy (unless you've tried CBT, DBT and EMDR- I know it's tiring, I've done all three, I feel ya. EMDR was last for me) before you decide to train your dog to be a service dog.

Just my two cents!

Offline Kirsten

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Re: Should I have my dog be a service dog?
« Reply #11 on: June 03, 2017, 04:42:24 PM »
I agree about something like CBT being more productive than talking about or rehashing the traumatic event.

I had two traumas, the second being a car wreck where I was pinned in the car and had to be cut out with a traumatic brain injury and broken leg and two young children with me.  Three vehicles were involved and one person died at the scene.  I was pretty messed up with hypervigilence from PTSD.  Learning CBT techniques literally saved my sanity and my life.  Talking about what happened just tended to wind me up and make me more upset.  I needed to find a way to take control of my symptoms and reclaim my own brain.  CBT was the answer for me.  I understand it won't be the answer for everyone, but I do highly recommend giving it a serious try (even when it feels scary or hard).
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Offline Suse

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Re: Should I have my dog be a service dog?
« Reply #12 on: June 03, 2017, 08:48:11 PM »
If you have EMDR done make sure it is from someone who has a lot of experience and an excellent reputation.  I had it from 2 different people. Somehow it worked with one and made me worse with the other.  The technique and timing and exactitude and intuition of the practitioner really made a difference.  But yes, if done well it made a huge difference for me.

Offline Poedog

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Re: Should I have my dog be a service dog?
« Reply #13 on: June 03, 2017, 09:25:14 PM »
If you have EMDR done make sure it is from someone who has a lot of experience and an excellent reputation.  I had it from 2 different people. Somehow it worked with one and made me worse with the other.  The technique and timing and exactitude and intuition of the practitioner really made a difference.  But yes, if done well it made a huge difference for me.

yes yes yes. absolutely this. http://www.emdria.org/ you can locate a therapist that is actually trained and certified in it here. Thankfully, my experiences with it have been very positive (though still struggling quite a bit, they did help me get very far), I can definitely see how they could be very negative if you do not have someone who knows how to do it properly.

Offline EmmaH

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Re: Should I have my dog be a service dog?
« Reply #14 on: June 03, 2017, 09:44:18 PM »
My therapist is all about PET, prolonged exposure therapy, basically rehashing and reliving the experience until it doesn't affect you any more. I really don't think it works for everyone, certainly didn't help me much. EMDR is great to try though.