Psychiatric Service Dog for Autistic Child

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Psychiatric Service Dog for Autistic Child

This is a discussion on Psychiatric Service Dog for Autistic Child within the Working Dogs forums, part of the Dog Shows and Performance category; I am going to cut to the chase that I need as much information about Psychiatric service dogs for a client of mine that was ...

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Old 01-25-2015, 09:09 PM
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Psychiatric Service Dog for Autistic Child

I am going to cut to the chase that I need as much information about Psychiatric service dogs for a client of mine that was asking me about it. Ive looked into several sites but the information wasn't very thorough. I have a client that is looking to either turn the family dog into a service animal for her children or get a service dog. Now there are money concerns in a sense that they don't want to pay an arm and a leg. So perhaps a service dog company that works with training family dogs and such.
I read something about the dog providing calming techniques and offering pressure for therapeutic and calming.
Anything is helpful.
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Old 01-25-2015, 10:51 PM
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First of all, you can't just turn the family dog into a service dog unless they have a very specific personality. Doing that might end badly if the dog isn't well suited for it. Second of all, you said for her "children", not child. Service dogs are individual partners. If she has say, two special needs children, she would need two service dogs or just one for the neediest. They cannot care for more than one person, it's just too overwhelming. Most psych dog organizations are rarer than those for the blind or those in wheelchairs. If you want help for your client in a pinch might want to contact "Pet Partners" and see if there are and AAT dog teams who can visit with him until you can find him a personal service animal. Otherwise you need to see if you can find any local psych dog services, but it sounds like you tried. Unfortunately psych dogs aren't as common as they might sound on the internet or news. Not only that, but they are very expensive. Unless you can find a charity or a trainer willing to train the dog(s) for her, they will have a difficult time. Service dogs need to be specifically trained for their person's needs. My advice would be to try the Pet Partners and maybe look into local trainers or dog schools and see if someone would like to donate their time to train a psych dog. Even if their family dog is a good candidate, I don't think the parent of two special needs children has the time or energy to dedicate to the intense training a dog like that needs. I hope this was of some help.

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Old 01-26-2015, 02:40 AM
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You remember megs89 (I think) right? With Dooley? She was training him to be her psychiatric service dog. She had a trainer that she was working with and was doing it herself. I'll FB her and give her a heads up to your thread in case she has any advice for you.

I think it's possible to train the family dog to do some tasks if he's got a stable temperament and an agreeable personality for the work expected of him. What I would do first is find out from your client what exactly her expectations are for the dog.

If she wants to be able to take this dog out in public to restaurants, libraries, stores etc., then evaluate his temperament for that. He can't be reactive or nervous or too high energy. He has to be mellow and good at ignoring distractions. Some of this is temperament related, some of this comes with training. But just think about the things he would be required to do....Go through stores without becoming too focused on food or stealing anything, go through crowds without having to sniff and greet everybody, lay down at the child's feet for hours at restaurants or in a movie theater. He can't have any bad habits like marking or yapping. He might have to be limited to the home.

Also find out what tasks she would like the dog to be able to do for the children. What does she think will help her children? Sometimes pressure can help relieve anxiety. He can be trained to lean into the child, or press his head or paw/s into the child's lap. Maybe it would help if the dog can seek out and deliver a special comfort item for the child, like a favorite blanket or plushie. For adults, I know some would like for their dog to be able to guide them to an exit if they have a panic or anxiety attack and need to get out but can't think clearly in that state.

If the child has a psychologist or psychiatrist that they see, then mom should probably also discuss with them what tasks the dog can be trained to help mitigate the child's condition.
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Old 01-26-2015, 08:10 PM
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I personally don't believe their dog is ...the right candidate to be a service dog, she has a beautiful temperament around the children which is great but there is a lot of work that would have to be done in order for the dog to even be considered for the job.
I only kept it as an option due to the fact that there are two dogs in the household (her included) and most of the service dog sites I've been looking at, will not allow a service dog to enter in the home with other dogs present. They would have to be the only service dog or in some circumstances they can live with retired service dogs but that's about it.
The dog would mostly be used for calming situations such as high stress areas as their dog seems to like to calm down situations that cause the children anxiety which I believe the mother is really looking into. I read about the pressure calming techniques which I believe would benefit the boys deeply.
Honestly, these dogs are family so there is no possibility in removing the dog from the homes in order to move a service dog in.
Also, a lot of places I searched claimed the dog had to be a certain breed in order for them to even train the dog. She's a pit bull, so there arises another problem.
If there are places like the one described up above that would come to the home and work with the children, even on outings that would probably work better, but like I said an arm and a leg really isn't doable in this situation.

Thanks for all the information so far! I appreciate it.
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Old 01-26-2015, 10:18 PM
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You might be able to get the dog trained to lie on the boy on command to calm him under the mother's supervision. However there really is no guarantee the dog would be ok with this. And I would recommend a trainer evaluate her even on her ability to do that. It might help at home! Also, Pit Bulls CAN be service dogs, but you will run into so many obstacles. This past December it was in the news that a mall Santa turned away an autistic child because her service dog was a Pit. You might be able to find an individual, private volunteer team that could work with the family.
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Old 01-27-2015, 05:35 PM
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https://www.pawswithacause.org/what-...ogs-for-autism
ASDA | Autism Service Dogs of America
Autism Assistance Dog - 4 Paws For Ability

Here are links to the top 3 suggested (by my daughter's therapist) sites.. I do not know anything about them personally, as I have just begun doing inquires myself... Hope they help...
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