Wednesday, August 10, 2011
Psychiatric Dog Service Part 1
A number of years ago I was diagnosed with bipolar type II. While most of the symptoms associated with this diagnosis don’t limit my life very much, I was developing social anxiety that was getting progressively worse. I was starting to have trouble leaving my house and going about my life. It was starting to limit my ability to make it to class or to my part time job. When I realized that it fit the definition of a disability, I went looking for help. My doctor was hesitant to add more medication to my already complicated mix. One new pill and everything else may need to be adjusted which could take months. So I went looking for other options to help and I stumbled across the idea of a service dog.
Service dogs can perform a number of roles. The ones that everybody is most aware of are guide dogs for the blind and assistance dogs for those who are physically handicapped. A service dog can also be trained for any number of tasks.
- · They can alert somebody who is deaf to sounds; fire alarms, oven timers, crying babies and more.
- · They can alert to a diabetic blood sugar drop. This is systematically taught the same way you would teach a drug sniffing dog. The dog senses the drop and the dog is then trained to alert the and handler what to do when they sense that there is a problem. This is the same case for an effective seizure alert dog.
- · For somebody with schizophrenia the dog can help discern if the voice or image is real or if it’s a symptom. An example of this would be a “go say hi” command where the dog would greet somebody if they are there but would perform some other behaviour if there isn’t anybody there.
- If they are paired with a child who has autism one of their main tasks is to prevent the child from wondering off. Often the child is tethered to the dog and the dog is trained to prevent the child from going towards hazards such as roads.