Several studies have confirmed that therapy dogs and assistance dogs offer aid to people with medical conditions. Depression happens to be one of them. Studies also show that taking care of an animal improves your mental health. First, service dogs were normally used by the people who had some form of physical ailment like; seizures, disability, blindness. But now they are being used for people with mental illnesses too. Assistance dogs can provide a lot of help to people with anxiety, PTSD, and depression. Just in the USA, there are 27 million adults that are depressed to the extent that they have problems doing everyday tasks due to depression or anxiety.
There are two types of service dogs. Who they are and what purpose they serve is explained below:
A psychiatric dog provides the service by recognizing and then responding to the needs of their handler. They are trained dogs that people can get. They usually go over 600 hours of training. These dogs are trained to do the tasks that their handlers can’t perform. For example, when a person is out in the public. The dog makes a safe personal space for its handler. It can also act as a buffer to calm their emotional distress in public places. If a person is about to something dangerous, it can also help them stay away from it. They can also perform the tasks of reminding their owner to take their medicine, fetching things, and helping them in stressful situations. If something happens to the handler like dizziness or passing out, they can act as a brace. They get a waiver for the “no pet policy” as it is a necessity for them. They can also travel with them on planes.
Emotional Support Animals (ESA)
Just like the name suggests, emotional support animals provide emotional comfort. They are trained dogs that are also available for individuals to get. However, they are not specially trained like psychiatry dogs. To qualify for an emotional support animal, you should have a certificate. The person qualifying for it must have an emotional or mental disability that is certified by a mental health professional. There are laws in place that ensure that people with support animals don’t get discriminated against when it comes to housing. If there is a “no pet policy” by a landlord, it is waived off for such a person with a disability.
How can you get them?
When it comes to ESA, you should have a confirmed diagnosis, stating to have a mental illness. Also, a prescription saying this will be beneficial for the health of the patient. For a psychiatry dog, a prescription is not required.
You can get these dogs from a Service Dog Program that specially trains them. They cost around $20,000-$30,000. Before getting the dog, you will have to follow certain rules and requirements.
The other option is to train one yourself. It is not an easy task. They require special training by trained professionals. Training a dog yourself can cost around $10,000-$20,000.