Psychiatric service dogs

SINCE THERE’S A TON OF MISINFORMATION floating around about service dogs vs. emotional support animals, give this a quick read to clarify that a psychiatric service dog what you need.

To qualify for a psychiatric service dog you must have a psychiatric diagnosis from a doctor who you have seen within the last year. Then you’ll need a dated and signed letter from that doctor stating your diagnosis and his/her recommendation for a service dog.

Next, familiarize yourself with, understand and be willing to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act

Training a service dog takes at least two years and requires maintenance training for the working life of the dog. Here’s a list of standard obedience skills we teach service dogs. Trained tasks are required and this document, created in 2009, is still relevant today and will give you a good understanding of what are and are not trained tasks for a psychiatric service dog. Public access training teaches your dog to focus on you and provide you with whatever assistance you need without being distracted. The public access test is one that all service dogs should pass with flying colors.

Bottom line: your dog must be obedience, task and public access trained. What are tasks? They are trained skills that a service dog performs on command. Example: retrieve a pouch that contains your meds. Reducing anxiety by a dog’s mere presence is not a trained task.


Questions? Visit me at or email me at



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