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post #1 of 19 (permalink) Old 05-26-2010, 01:28 PM Thread Starter
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How to train a psychiatric service dog

How do I train Major as a psychiatric service dog for me? I already have a service dog for mobility and vision assistance, as I am severely disabled there as well, but I want to add psd for Major. Summer already does it kind of naturally, but I don't know how to train for it. Any ideas?
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post #2 of 19 (permalink) Old 05-26-2010, 01:55 PM
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I would start by sitting down with the computer or a piece of notepaper and make a list of the behaviors Summer does naturally for you now, that help with your disability. Get an idea of what she does and how she does it. Then make a separate list of the behaviors you want/need Major to learn for you out of the list of things Summer does.

When you have a list of behaviors you WANT, pick the ones you need most and train them first. Whenever you train a complex task, break it down into little bits and work on those parts of the task before putting the whole thing together.

For example, if you wanted your dog to retrieve medication from your purse, you would start by teaching your dog to pick up an item, carry an item, and give you an item before you would put it together to where your dog will go get and bring the item to you, and then move on to getting an item from your purse (which may be in another room) and bring it to you, etc.

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post #3 of 19 (permalink) Old 05-26-2010, 02:04 PM
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Can you have more than one service dog at a time?

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post #4 of 19 (permalink) Old 05-26-2010, 02:08 PM
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Major is only 10 wks old right now, her current service dog isn't able to perform in public full time so her plan is that for Major to take over as her service dog once he is finished with training.

Because of the length of time that it takes to finish training a service dog is common for owner trained homes to have a SDIT and SD at the same time. I am training my pup Emma to be my next SD currently as Tessa is 6 yrs old and will be needing to retire from mobility assistance in a few years.
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post #5 of 19 (permalink) Old 05-26-2010, 02:55 PM
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Oh, okay - that makes sense. I didn't see the other posts that explained the situation, and I'm picturing someone going everywhere with two dogs instead of one!

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post #6 of 19 (permalink) Old 05-26-2010, 04:58 PM Thread Starter
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thanks for the advice, and it is a very good idea. I also found a manual from guide dogs for the blind for their puppy raisers online, and I plan on following that except for the retrieval part because I need a good retrieval from him.

Also, the other poster was right. No way would I have any desire to have two service dogs working in public at one time. As Major gets more trained, and is able to help more and go out into public more with me, Summer will end up becoming an at home service dog and emotional support dog for my daughter who has aspberger's syndrome, my son who has schizophrenia, and my husband who has depression and anger problems. She will also compete in rally and possibly obedience. She will also be a back up dog for me and will help me in public when Major is sick or not able to go with me.

It is hard enough having one service dog at a time in public. No way would I want to have two.
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post #7 of 19 (permalink) Old 05-26-2010, 05:51 PM
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If I needed a service dog that would perform tasks to mitigate mental illness issues, I would absolutely start with this useful book: Healing Companions: Ordinary Dogs and Their Extraordinary Power to Transform Lives by Jane Miller. This is her website: | Healing Companions by Jane Miller

Additionally Joan Froling has a section at IAADP that is detailed: http://www.iaadp.org/psd_tasks.html

You may also find the Psychiatric Service Dog Society helpful.
Psychiatric Service Dog Society

In addition to Chris's suggestion of figuring out, first, what your most urgent needs are, the above should give you a clearer idea of what a dog CAN do for you and some ideas of how to how they can be trained.

If you're not familiar with clicker training, you may want to learn. Tasks are usually complex behavior chains, and I've found it's SO much easier to train them using a clicker. As Lin says, we break the behaviors into tiny bits, then string them together.

Karen Pryor's Don't Shoot the Dog! Audiobook is good (Pay attention to when she talks about back-chaining)

And Pat Miller's Shop Peaceable Paws, LLC - Books :: The Power of Positive Dog Training

A "psychiatric" service dog -- to me -- is just a service dog. You are disabled and have a medical need. A dog can mitigate your disability. You train him a task to do so. Throwing the word "psychiatric" into the mix seems to make it more complicated and mysterious than it is (and if you tell people he's a PSD, then you give them private information that they don't need).

He's a service dog. That's all.
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post #8 of 19 (permalink) Old 05-26-2010, 06:03 PM
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Originally Posted by tgolike View Post
thanks for the advice, and it is a very good idea. I also found a manual from guide dogs for the blind for their puppy raisers online, and I plan on following that except for the retrieval part because I need a good retrieval from him.

Also, the other poster was right. No way would I have any desire to have two service dogs working in public at one time. As Major gets more trained, and is able to help more and go out into public more with me, Summer will end up becoming an at home service dog and emotional support dog for my daughter who has aspberger's syndrome, my son who has schizophrenia, and my husband who has depression and anger problems. She will also compete in rally and possibly obedience. She will also be a back up dog for me and will help me in public when Major is sick or not able to go with me.

It is hard enough having one service dog at a time in public. No way would I want to have two.
My son has Asperger also.

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post #9 of 19 (permalink) Old 05-26-2010, 07:42 PM
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Quote:
You may also find the Psychiatric Service Dog Society helpful.
Psychiatric Service Dog Society
Be careful with some of the advice given on this site. They may have removed "Hugging" etc. from their public listing but their inner forums still promote feeling good as a task.

I just went back to check and still on their task list:

Symptoms and Trainable Tasks
Feelings of isolation -- Cuddle and Kiss
Tearfulness -- Lick Tears
Aggressive Driving -- Alert to aggressive driving
Forgotten personal identity -- Carry handler identification documents

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Family Companion, Non-Profit Mascot, In-Home Service Dog


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post #10 of 19 (permalink) Old 05-26-2010, 09:30 PM
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Summer will end up becoming an at home service dog and emotional support dog for my daughter who has aspberger's syndrome, my son who has schizophrenia, and my husband who has depression and anger problems. She will also compete in rally and possibly obedience. She will also be a back up dog for me and will help me in public when Major is sick or not able to go with me.
I think that is asking A LOT of one dog. If this were my dog, I would keep her as an emotional support dog and "backup" Service Dog, but I would not also compete her in a performance venue.

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