Dogs for people with psychiatric problems

I have read about psychiatric service dogs but only recently heard about it from someone who has one. It is a service dog that is trained to assist its handler who has a psychiatric disability.

For someone who gets dizzy due to the medication he/she is taking, these dogs are trained to pick up dropped items.

For a person who becomes disorientated when he/she dissociates and wanders off, the dog is trained to stop that person from getting lost and guides him/her home when given the command.

For someone who hallucinates about seeing a stranger at his front door or about smelling smoke when there isn’t any – the dog is trained to notify him/her if a stranger is at the front door or in the house and if there is smoke coming out of the house.

These dogs can give its handler an increased sense of security and great relief from feelings of isolation. The dogs also motivate the persoon to exercise. Our family did not know about these dogs when our son was ill but we had a black Belgian Shepherd that added great comfort and meaning to our son’s life. He walked that dog so far and for so long that there were times that I worried about the dog as she was no longer a puppy. But, that dog gave him easier access to the world as taking her out gave him a reason to visit places he might not have gone to otherwise. She gave him a whole lot of emotional support and also a sense of self-esteem. She most definitely gave him a sense of purpose. He felt the need to walk due to the fact that he could not sit still for long so, when she was by his side, his mood improved and he enjoyed the walks that he so much needed. She actually encouraged im to  interact socially with others as she drew attention to herself. People saw man and dog together for so many hours that they approaced and spoke to our son. Last but not least, and most important of all, that dog gave our son affection and nonjudgmental companionship and love.

belgian shepherd 2


One thought on “Dogs for people with psychiatric problems

  1. CJ

    So beautiful the dog here…they also train the dogs to help with seizure sufferers but they are very few and very expensive and the waiting list is very very long. The great thing too about the dogs trained for the needs you describe in this piece Jill, is that the animal isn’t like a NAGGY human constantly harping and reminding or chiding the psychiatric patient about maintaining a meds schedule. An animal seems to bring a whole different approach all on its own. So fascinating and remarkable, too.


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