Friday, January 4, 2013

Psychiatric Service Dog Task Training

Rosie has been progressing in her training and she went to the library for the first time yesterday. My PSD trainer, Jane Miller from Healing Companions, and I were working on public access training with Rosie. Some of the things we worked on were training her not to sniff at everything, how to wait at a door, to pay attention to me rather than the sights and sounds around her, and how not to make noise in public places. Rosie is still quite a puppy so she is easily distracted, but she is getting better and better. One of the things she is pretty good at is the task training we are doing with her. The tasks are the things she does for me which will specifically help me with my bipolar and anxiety. One of her best tasks is "Paw on Foot" which she can do wherever we are and can help calm me down if I am having a panic attack. It will also help bring me back to the present moment when I have repetitive thinking/worry or during a manic episode.

Here is a video of her in the library practicing "Paw on Foot":

One of the other tasks Rosie has learned is the command "Go get Mommy" which Jeff and Jeffrey use when I am depressed or manic for Rosie to come sit with me to distract me.

It is amazing how just a few commands so far help me so much. Rosie is able to calm me down much faster than taking to someone or even medication can. In fact, I often refuse to take my Ativan when I am too manic so Rosie calms me down enough to accept the medication. 


Rev. Katie


  1. Thanks for sharing this story! Rosie sounds like a wonderful and warm and friendly addition to your strategies for coping with bipolar. I had a special dog once, not trained at all, but she seemed to know when someone needed her. I guess God created dogs too for his purposes!

  2. I am looking into getting a psychiatric service dog, so I thank you for your video that was helpful to me.

  3. Heather,
    The one thing I have learned is definitely get a dog that at least has it's Canine Good Citizenship certificate if it is a dog you will need to help train on your own. Rosie is awesome but she does not know the basics and has not been socialized and it's really the basics that she needs in order to go out in public and that is hard for regular people to train even with a good trainer if you happen to get a dog with a low threshold of anxiety. I wish you luck in finding you PSD. They are awesome!

  4. I am training my Standard Poodle to be my PSD. It is amazing how when I am driving how much he helps me. I catch myself looking for him when I am on my way to work as as of right now they have denied me from bringing him with me. I am going to go back to them once he is further along in his training to ask that he be allowed to come with me to work. Just knowing he is there helps me.