Reviewed by Wendy Boring-Bray, DBH, LPC
Through ages, domestic dogs have always been described as “Man’s best friend" based on the close relationship with man, their companionship, and how they are characteristically loyal to humans. They are in different ways amazing, having a lot of things they contribute to human existence.
Some dogs are specially trained to render needed supports to those with physical or mental health conditions. For instance, people battling with anxiety-related challenges have the opportunity to reduce their feelings of fear, tension, worry, and dread. These kinds of dogs are called service dogs— companion animals that offer physical and emotional supports to those who need them.
Therefore, an anxiety service dog can help you stay relaxed/calm, provide you with a sense of attacks (anxiety or panic attacks), and even bring your medication to you when needed. Frankly, they are stunning creatures used to handle some important duties (physically and emotionally).
What Are Anxiety Service Dogs?
Technically, service dogs help people with mental or physical conditions. In other words, service dogs primarily provide emotional and pragmatic support to those going through a physical disability or mental health challenges. They belong to the type of service animals that help people with hearing impairments, visual impairment, or mobility impairments. As defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), service animals are trained individually to handle specific responsibilities for the benefit of someone with a disability. This disability can be psychiatric, physical, intellectual, sensory, or other mental challenges.
There are also service dogs that assist with mental health conditions such as anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder. This type of dogs is referred to as Psychiatric service dogs (PSDs)
A Psychiatric service dog is a type of service animal specifically trained to provide supports to those with mental health challenges such as anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia. A service dog for anxiety will provide needed companionship, help reduce anxiety levels, or make you feel safe contrary to the feelings of fear, tension, worry, and dread. Incredibly, these dogs can follow you anywhere (airplanes or restaurants).
What Are The Breeds Of Service Dogs?
Service dogs are specially and individually trained to perform important tasks. The basic things that qualify a dog to be a service animal are its ability to get trained and its temperament. If you must know, any breed of dog can be trained to be a service dog. However, there are some breeds of dogs that are most suitable to take the job. These breeds include:
- German shepherds
- Golden retrievers
- Labrador retrievers
How To Get A Service Dog For Anxiety
Not everyone is qualified to get a service dog. In fact, there are specific criteria you must meet before you can be permitted to get one. Meeting these specific criteria can give you the privilege of getting service dogs for anxiety from specialist organizations. These criteria which you must meet may include:
- You must be recommended by a licensed mental health professional or doctor (recommended letter must be available)
- You must love dogs
- You must have patience and good communication skills
- You must have a deteriorating psychiatric condition or physical disability
- Your home environment must be stable
- You must be able to attend a handler training program
- You must be capable financially to maintain or care for 12 years or more
- You must be able to care for and train a service dog consistently
How Much Does A Service Dog Cost?
Concerning how much service dogs cost in the market, they can really be expensive — but the service dogs are worth the price. The main factor responsible for the high price is the high cost of their training demands. For instance, in the U.S, several service dog organizations spend on training service dogs between $30,000 and $40,000. For the hours of training invested in an individual dog, more than 600 hours (on average calculation) is given. Other things that may contribute to the expensive cost also include grooming, boarding, and veterinary care. The price sometimes maybe less high if you decide to train your dog yourself but with a certified and experienced trainer's assistance. However, costs can also be high. To cap it all, you may benefit from the help that can be rendered by some specialist organizations to find a service dog for you free of charge or at little cost.
What Are The Benefits Of Anxiety Service Dogs?
Service dogs are meant to greatly be of help to you. The help you need will determine the kind of training they will be trained to handle specific tasks. The following are some of the benefits of anxiety service dogs:
- A Service Dog Encourages You To Exercise: Clinically, exercise is good for your mental health, especially when going through some specific mental health challenges such as depression, anxiety, and stress. Physical exercise will greatly be of help to relieve the symptoms of anxiety and other mental health conditions.
- Spending Time Outdoors: Isolation is one of the common symptoms of anxiety and depression. When you're depressed or anxious, you lock yourself away from the outside world and decide to stay on your own. However, a service dog can help you get out of your shell. Having an anxiety service dog requires you to walk it outdoors. So, you will spend time outdoors doing this— this can help improve your mental health and increase your intake of vitamin D, which helps boost your mood.
- Companionship: Those experiencing anxiety may have challenges relating to being in the company of others. This may lead to isolation and loneliness. So, getting an anxiety service dog will bridge the gap of being lonely by providing companionship. Dogs generally are known to provide friendship and love. When you get one, it implies that you are adding a loyal friend to your life. How can a service dog for anxiety help you in different situations? A service dog can consistently remind you that you need to properly manage your conditions, such as a disability or chronic illness. Your disability or illness burden can be lifted because a service dog will give you a sense of consistent care and security.
- A Service Dog Helps Relieve Your Stress: According to empirical studies, you can reduce the risk of anxiety in your children by getting them a pet did. So, when you spend quality time with your service dog, it can help reduce anxiety and stress and boost your mood (happiness). Also, when you interact with your animals, it reduces depression, improves your mood, encourages more positive interpersonal relationships, reduces cortisol levels (stress hormone), lower your blood pressure and heart rate, and reduces reported anxiety and fear.
- A Service Dog Helps Boost Your Confidence In Social Settings: Obviously, getting a service dog boosts the level of your happiness and helps increase your socialization levels, especially for those with disabilities. Of course, your dog can be empowered to become very active when you are with other people. A service dog, being a loyal companion, will make you feel relax and comfortable. It also draws attention from people. Some people may even be prompted to talk to you because of your dog— the initiation of positive social interaction.
Also, a service dog can help improve your relationship with your relatives. If you're with a disability, your relatives may feel relax when they are not around because they know your dog is with you. In the home, a service dog will make life less stressful.
- Motivation; different physical problems can easily weigh you down, especially if you have a disability. These problems may include pain, fluctuations in health, and other challenges. Getting a service dog can help motivate you to handle these challenges and help you live your daily life in joy. The connection you have with your dog and its dependence can motivate you to face your challenges.
- Self-Improvement: Anxiety is capable of making you look down on yourself or can trigger low self-esteem. A service dog can greatly be of help in this condition. If you have any form of disability, a service dog can help energize your spirit to handle things you may have thought you couldn't handle. As a loyal friend, it comforts you and helps you develop an open mind to different attainable ideas and set achievable goals. A service dog can help you stay optimistic and look at things positively.
- A Service Dog Helps Have A Greater Feeling Of Independence: Based on the fact that a service dog can be very reliable and trusted as a friend that doesn't fail at the time of need, you tend to commit it to do for you some tasks such opening a door or carrying something. Because a service dog will always be ready and available, you tend to hand over these responsibilities. In sum, a service dog helps eliminate or reduce dependence and offers a sense of freedom.
What Are the Emotional Benefits Of An Anxiety Service Dog?
A service dog can be of help physically and emotionally, especially when you're with disabilities. One of the reasons why most people get a service dog is for it to support them emotionally. From a general standpoint, animals (pets) can help increase your confidence level and promote a good relationship with other people around you. The following are some of the emotional benefits you can get from your anxiety service dog:
- An anxiety service dog can help detect the symptoms of anxiety attacks before they are experienced.
- An anxiety service dog can bring someone to help you when you're in distress
- An anxiety service dog can help you retrieve your phone during an anxiety attack
- An anxiety service dog can fetch your medication or water during an attack (panic or anxiety attack)
- An anxiety service dog can help prevent strangers from getting closer to you when in distress
- An anxiety service dog can calm you down during an anxiety attack by distracting you (licking your face or providing a paw is a way to distract you)
- An anxiety service dog can help turn on the light for people with PTSD or help perform a safety check of rooms
- An anxiety service dog can remind you to take your medication at a specific time
- An anxiety service dog can provide deep pressure therapy to soothe you
What Are The Other Coping Techniques For Anxiety?
It's very important to know that getting an anxiety service dog is not the only treatment option for anxiety disorder. Actually, psychotherapy and medication are the most common options that people use in dealing with their mental health challenges apart from using a psychiatric service dog. Ensure that you know the level of your anxiety to go with the best treatment method. To find out if you have anxiety and the level, visit this link: https://www.mind-diagnostics.org/anxiety-test.
Psychotherapy is one of the effective methods to relieve the symptoms of anxiety. For anxiety disorder, cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a common type used. You can also use along with psychotherapy, medications such as sedatives, antidepressants, or anti-anxiety medications.
In addition, exercise is another way you can manage to cope with anxiety. Exercise helps reduce the level of adrenaline and increases the levels of endorphins. Other related ways to reduce stress and anxiety include yoga, meditation, and deep breathing exercises.
Another way to cope with anxiety is to change your lifestyle. You do things that are not healthy, or things you don't do that are healthy. Find out those that can help manage the symptom. The following lifestyles should be encouraged:
- Try to avoid drugs and alcohol
- Ensure you eat a healthy diet
- Try to quit smoking
- Ensure that you reduce the intake of caffeine
- Try to avoid sleep deprivation, establish a regular sleep schedule, and get enough sleep