A Psychiatric Service Dog is a specific type of service or assistance dog trained to assist their handler with a psychiatric disability, such as post-traumatic stress disorder or schizophrenia.
Although assistance dogs have traditionally helped with people with disabilities such as blindness or more recently deafness or mobility disabilities, there are a wide range of other disabilities that an assistance dog may be able to help with as well, including psychiatric disabilities.
Psychiatric service dogs may be of any breed or size suitable for public work. Some psychiatric service dogs are trained by the person who will become the handler – usually with the help of a professional trainer. Others are trained by assistance or service dog programs. Assistance dog organizations are increasingly recognizing the need for dogs to help individuals with psychiatric disabilities.
PSDS is a USA based nonprofit organization dedicated to educating mental health consumers, providers and the general public about Psychiatric Service Dogs. It does not provide or train dogs for individuals.
A.W.A.R.E.Dogs pioneered Australia’s first mental health assistant dog (MHAD) program in 2003.