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What does it take to get a service dog and would my "condition" qualify in registering my dog as one?

Let me explain...

I'm 16 years old and as long as I can remember I've suffered from Agoraphobia. (For those who don't know what it is: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/agoraphobia/DS00894 )

I can't even go into simple places like Wal-Mart and I've even had to have my mom walk me out to the car because I'd be crying. I also have a problem where I constantly have to use the bathroom. Even if I don't, I feel like I do because for me it's an "escape" from what I'm doing. I was on medication for a little over a year for bipolar/depression problems. The results? I became suicidal and attempted to hang myself and cut myself multiple times. After my mom found out I was taken off the meds. This is when I realized how much animals helped me. I started taking my dogs anywhere allowed and oddly enough I'd have no problems so long as they were with me. After my dad passed away (It's been almost 6 months now) my problems got a lot worse. Now mom wants to put me BACK on medications but I'm scared it'll just be like last time. I haven't taken any since I was like 12 or 13 but just because it's been years doesn't mean I wont have the same effects and I'm not really willing to test it to see.

I've been thinking about this for months now, instead of medications would it be possible for me to get a service dog (My GSD would be the one I'd use) to take with me when I go somewhere. Would my problem even be considered a "disability"?

Does anyone have any information on this that I could read up about?

Also if I could register him, would he be allowed into colleges? I've dropped out of school. My fears became to much to handle and I became homeschooled but because of my mom having to take care of my dad when he was sick I never did work. Since turning 16 we've only sent in school papers so that I could get my permit. (Which took 3 tries for me to get (And barely got it) because I'd freak out so badly being inside the building and feeling the urge to use the bathroom, I'd forget everything I knew and my whole thought would be on getting out and to the bathroom.) I'd like to go for my GED next summer which will require classes because I can't remember hardly anything from school. Would he be allowed to come with me?

Information, links, ect would be awesome!
 

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I would talk to your personal doctor about it and maybe he she would be of help. I think you should have no problem getting this accomplished, and it would be something you and Chance would work on together!
The breeder I got Onyx from suffered from anxiety/ panic attacks and one of her dogs was so in tune to her that she knew before the breeder that one was coming on. She did not have her as a certified service companion yet, but was working toward getting her CGC and she did have other titles on her(this dog btw had lived her first seven months in a kennel w/ no training before the owner allowed breeder to adopt her) Unfortunately, this dog was hit by a car in early Dec. and had to be put down because of severe trauma. She was due to have her first litter later in Dec. Onyx' breeder is really struggling in this great loss.
 

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Service dogs in the United States have the right to public access under the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act). What this means is that wherever you go, your service dog must be allowed, unless your dog is acting in a way interferes with business or is threatening toward other people. For example, if your dog were to growl at someone or pee on the floor, a business can legally ask you to leave.

State laws in regards to service dogs and SDITs (service dogs in training) vary widely. Some states require that you work with a trainer, while some states allow owner-trained dogs. Some states require certification of service dogs and/or testing. It really varies a lot. It would be best to see what your state requires for a dog to be considered a service dog, and also whether you can find a trainer to help you work on training your own dog.

What your dog does naturally is really great, but just being there and making you feel better does not make your dog a service dog. Service dogs must be trained to do specific tasks for the person they are with. For example, since you're agoraphobic, you may benefit from training your dog to create "space" between you and other people by standing between you and them. Other tasks a psychiatric service dog may be trained to do would be to fetch medication from your purse, bring you water to take medication with, call 9-11 on a special phone, or summon help.

There is a list of service dog tasks for psychiatric service dogs here -
http://www.iaadp.org/psd_tasks.html and lots of other information about service dogs on their main page, http://www.iaadp.org/
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Right now I don't have one but mom wants to get me one soon so I'll ask about it then.

Thats terrible to hear about the dog getting hit.
I'm sure it was a hard loss. < 3

Chance came from Animal Control so I'm not sure how much socializing/care he had before. I know he's scared of public bathrooms which is probably because of the stalls/shelter kennels being kind of the same trapped area. He did well when I took him to the pet store though besides barking twice but he listened pretty well when I told him to hush which is good to be his first time in public. He doesn't like the vet either but thats probably because of having his butt swabbed and getting IV's and whatnot his first time going. (He came to me in the late stages of Parvo.) He's smart and already knows lots of basic commands so I think he'd do well with some more work.

My first plans when I got him was to get his CGC, TDI and do agility and/or frisbee with him. I'm hoping to get him into his first obedience classes in March. The school I'm interested in offers CGC testing at the end of the 8 weeks which I'm sure he'll pass with some work. I've never had my dogs in classes before, I've always did trainning myself (Including with stubborn breeds like my old Siberian Husky) so this will be quite a new experience but I'm hoping the trainner can help me in finding who I need to go to, to get whatever needs to be done.
 

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You will definitely want to do a lot of socialization with Chance using positive reward based training. Have you ever done clicker training? I would look into that.
 

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Wow, that site has some really helpful things and honestly I can already find a need for one.

I have a fear of being embarrassed and when I have to leave the room several times (Especually when my peeing urge comes in) it really makes me feel panicy and I feel bad once I'm out of the situation and calming down because my mom has to drop what shes doing and come with me. Having Chance with me as an "excuse" and as mental support would really help.

The following task can be an effective coping mechanism in the workplace, preventing loss of self control in front of others. The dog is trained to assist the person to escape from a certain conversation, a room, or a building during a panic attack. The dog is taught to jump up and paw the person’s leg if small, nose nudge it if large, or to start nuzzling, licking the person’s hand, when given surreptitious hand signal. This provides the human partner with a plausible reason for taking a break from an intolerable situation with a boss, client or co-worker, thus saving face or the job. Some breeds can learn to vocalize, whine on command, “talk” or give a short yip, with a surreptitious hand signal, (for example, flexing the first digit of a forefinger) increasing the impression that it is urgent for the disabled person to take dog outside before the dog has an accident in the office due to the dog’s alleged stomach or bowel upset.

* Dog trained to “bother” his partner with pawing or a nose nudge, providing a plausible excuse to leave.

* Dog may be trained to vocalize on silent signal as if urgently needing to go outside.


That would really help me in not panicing as bad. I know it sounds bad to use a dog as an excuse but I can't even begin to imagine how much my life would change for the better if I could get out of situations that easy without having to bug my mom to stop her shopping or whatever shes doing just because I'm starting to have problems.

Standing between me and someone else would also be helpful.

There are many situations in which an emotional over reaction can be a very humiliating problem. It is especially inappropriate when it happens in the workplace and might cost someone a job or a promotion. Battling this problem through teamwork involves interacting with the dog in ways that can break the undesired train of thought triggering the emotional overload. A service dog can be trained to perform one or more tactile diversion tasks to distract the human partner’s attention at such times, though if insufficient, then an optional extra, [ See Disclaimer] such as petting or a “break the spell” approach can be tried, modified for the workplace.

These tasks may have an incidental therapeutic benefit, giving a feeling of solace to some handlers, but their primary purpose is to empower the human partner to recover and sustain emotional control in settings where uncontrolled emotional reactions are unacceptable.

* Lap Up on Command - dog stands on hind legs, forepaws in the partner’s lap, his weight and warmth a tactile stimulus, but only counts as a task if dog trained to remain passively in this position for at least 2 - 5 minutes or more during the emotional crisis. Should give dog a rest, all four paws on the ground, for one minute, before asking him to repeat it if this task is needed for more than a maximum of five minutes.

* Dog trained to lick the face and neck of partner on command for a minimum of one minute or more to distinguish it from untrained spontaneous behavior which is not recognized in a court of law as a legally acceptable service dog task. This is not “kissing” for comfort but an obnoxious behavior in its vigor, designed to “snap the partner out of it” so he/she can get up, leave the scene till regaining one’s composure.


This would help as well. Trainning the dog to get my mind on him and not the thoughts in my mind that cause my panic attacks would help me go out in public a lot easier. It's standing by myself while mom is doing something and having nothing to keep my mind from wandering off to thoughts (Such as having to go to the bathroom) is a big problem. I've also had times where I'll sit down and get so deep into my thoughts that it can take up to 10 minutes for me to snap out of it which has become so common now that it's scary.

And just things like that. I never really put thought into what could help me besides having the dog there but there is a lot more than I realized that could really help me through having him there.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Oh and as for clicker trainning I have used it before though I haven't introduced Chance to it yet.
 

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CGC is a good start. Plan to do a lot of formal obedience training, and start to look around for an actual service dog trainer. I did a google search and came upon some names of folks in GA that claim to train assistance dogs. Take those claims with a grain of salt.

Ask to meet with one or several of their former clients with their dogs. Better yet, ask the clients if they would mind if you could meet them in a public place for cup of coffee and chat. This will give you a chance to see the dog in action (in a restaurant or busy cafe) and you can pick the person's brain for the pros and cons of having an SD. (It's actually more of a hassle at times than many people realize.) And you will be able to get input on the training facility you're thinking of using before you drop a lot of $$.

Good luck to you!
 

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Hi, I can not say that you "would" qualify for a Service Dog and would have to give you a "Maybe". No one is qualified to make that call over the Internet.

First, the court system has come down very hard on people who choose to use a dog in lieu of recommended medications from their doctor. So I would highly recommend that you and your mom make an appointment to go speak with your primary doctor and discuss options. There are a lot of new medications out there and you would need documentation on your medical records that you have been working with your doctor <u>and</u> that there has not been any that are successful in helping your medical disability. Your mom, you, and your doctor should be looking into all available options for you as you need to work together as a team.

A doctor as such can not write a prescription for an assistance dog but along with what they write in your medical files and if you meet the requirements of disability per the ADA then you would be considered a PWD who would be eligible for a service dog.

You would then need to decide what the dog would do for you that medication can not. Making you feel good is not a task -- that is more in line of what any pet dog does for the majority of owners. Taking a dog into public to use as an excuse to leave is not a trained task as someone could go into the public with any pet dog and say they needed to leave to care for their dog.

But, and here is another but, if you have worked with your doctor and the best medicine for your treatment (or possibly the only medicine that works) <u>also has side effects </u>that make it difficult for you to walk or put you in danger of passing out -- then those are good reasons to have a service dog.

Say if on the only medication that was found to help your condition you would often find yourself falling, then a trained mobility dog who would not only help you regain your balance, but would also assist you up from the floor, would help pull you up stairs, or would help you from topling down steps, picked up dropped items that you would be unable to lean over for, went and got help for you if you had collapsed somewhere and unable to summon help, then these are trained tasks that would make the dog a service dog.

If on the proper medication you were still unable to leave your home, go to doctor's appointments, or other needed outings, then you would need be able to show what it is that your dog does that allows you to go out. Some people can not leave their home only because they can not re-enter an empty building. Then their dog is trained to either go search the house (while the handler waits outside) for an intruder and report back that all is well inside or the handler may enter with the dog and relies on the dog to alert to the precense that there is someone inside so that they may quickly leave or in the vast majority of cases, no alert means no one is present. These dogs are then usually taught to turn lights on inside if it is nighttime on return.

In choosing a task for your dog to do you never want to go to what we call a shopping list. It is not like you say I want a task from column A and let's see two from column B. Those lists are only there to show what some people have their dog trained to do. You must sit down and decide exactly it is that you need the dog to be taught to do for you.

I hope I didn't discourage you but I wanted to let you know of some of the steps that would be need to be taken. So again, step one is to have a meeting with your doctor and talk to him/her about your treatment plan.

I'm also going to send you some info via PM. Please show this to your mom as since you are still a minor she will need to be part of your support team.
 

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I've heard of service dogs being used for Panic Disorders(I too have a panic disorder+OCD and was bad enough at one point to consider a service dog) you really have to prove you can't function in society and are in serious need of canine assistance, even then I don't know how easy it is to get a service for mental disabilities. It was hard for me to dig up any info on it when I looked.

With the meds, I'd recommend going to possibly a new psychiatrist and discuss meds and therapy(CBT-Cognitive Behavior Therapy is the top method and they usually go for that first). School(I know you didn't ask for advice on this but its just a quick tidbit) does your school have a homebound program? Its a program where you are not in school but there is a teacher assigned to you and they bring you work(you meet at a library or someplace you agree on) and they can teach or just give you the work and they administer tests. I had to do homebound schooling my senior year of high school.

Other than that, I don't know much on training/certifications of a service dog. Someone smarter than me will have to answer that one.

There is hope for your Agoraphobia, I managed to graduate high school and am in college and doing well, I go to dog training with Mack and have to go all over for stuff for my horses. Because of my animals I am forced to interact with people and it does get better.

Good luck and PM me if you have questions.
 
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