We all know that dogs are born as natural “healers”. Can those with psychiatric disorders benefit from interaction with animals? For most people, the answer is yes! There are an increasing number of dogs being trained to assist individuals with a wide range of disabilities. Dogs have a positive impact on the psychological well-being, social interactions, and various life roles at home and in the community.
According to the American’s with Disabilities Act, service animals can go in public places anywhere that a non-disabled person can go. This includes a public business, restaurant, taxi, bus, or park, even if a local or state law states otherwise. The ADA supersedes local and state laws because it is a federal law. Note that this is an American law, and the rules might be different in other countries.
Below are some specific tasks areas that service dogs can be trained to help with.
- Emotional Coping – Service dogs can be trained to perform specific tasks that soothe the negative effects of the person’s mental illness and coping with emotional overload.
- Treatment Related Assistance – These special animals can be trained to deliver messages, remind their owner to take medications at a specific time, assist with walking as well as alerting sedated individuals to doorbells, phones or smoke detectors.
- Medical Crisis – Service dogs can be trained to retrieve medications for the individual from a specially located spot, beverages to swallow them with, and telephones to call for help. They can bark for help, answer a doorbell, open doors, and even dial 911 on special K9 speaker telephones.
- Safe Driving – Service dogs can be trained to determine if a person’s judgment capacity while driving is diminished and can prompt the person to slow down and pull off the road as soon as possible.
- Security Enhancement – These canines are often trained to check the house for intruders. They can turn on lights and open doors. They can assist with leaving a premise during an emergency.