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Dogs: A medicine for mental health problems?

Mental Health Service Dogs open doors for people with psychological disabilities
Heeling Allies specializes in privately training Mental Health Service Dogs for qualified individuals with neurological disorders, mental illness, developmental disorders, intellectual disorders, and other psychological conditions that rise to the level of a disability. 

Imagine having a dog that could help you become a part of the world again…
Heeling Allies, Service Dogs are highly trained to enhance the lives of their handlers by helping them to live independently. Each Heeling Allies Service Dog is tailor trained to meet the specific needs of the individual with whom they will be placed. These talented dogs are trained to help their handlers within the home, as well as outside of the home. 

Enhanced Quality of Life and Personal Freedom
Heeling Allies, Mental Health Service Dogs are trained to perform tasks that help ease debilitating symptoms of some psychological impairments. Disabilities served include, but are not limited to, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Acute Anxiety Disorder, Panic Disorder, Agoraphobia, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), Generalized Anxiety Disorders, Mood Disorders, Asperger Syndrome, and Tourette Syndrome. 

Some of the tasks Mental Health Service Dogs can be trained to do for their handler.
  • Assist handler within their home and in public spaces.
  • Remind their handler to take medication.
  • Wake handler for school or work.
  • Assist in coping with emotional overload by bringing handler into the “here and now.”
  • Provide buffer or shield for handler in crowded areas by creating a physical boundary.
  • Extinguish flashbacks by bringing handler into the here and now.
  • Orient during panic/anxiety attack.
  • Stand behind handler to increase feelings of safety, reduce hyper-vigilance, and decrease the likelihood of the handler being startled by another person coming up behind them.
  • Search dwelling.
NB: Psychiatric Service Dogs are individually, intensively trained dogs for people with mental disabilities. The Psychiatric Service Dog Society has extensive information about these dogs and how to get a dog trained. Heeling Allies calls them “Mental Health Service Dogs” because of the stigma associated with the term “psychiatric”

Many of the benefits to owning a Service Dog often also include:

  • Relief from feelings of isolation.
  • An increased sense of well-being, security, self esteem and purpose.
  • Daily structure and healthy habits.
  • Mood improvement, and increased optimism.
  • Unconditional love, affection and nonjudgmental companionship.
  • Motivation to exercise.
  • Encouragement for social interactions.
  • Reduction in debilitating symptoms.
  • Greater access to the world.
  • Around the clock support.