Psychiatric Service Dog FAQ

This is currently a work in progress, please continue to check back here for more updates and explanations.

  1. What is a Service Animal?
  2. What is the difference between a service-dog-in-training versus a full-fledged service dog?
  3. Who is disabled?
  4. Am I disabled?
  5. What if I have a psychiatric disability, but am not sure that I need, or want, a Psychiatric Service Dog (PSD)?
  6. Why do I need a doctor’s letter in order to begin training my PSD?
  7. What should my doctor’s generic letter of support say?
  8. What kind of doctor’s letter do I need to keep a Service Dog in my housing situation?
  9. What kind of doctor’s letter do I need to bring my Service Dog to my job?
  10. My doctor does not believe in PSD.  What can I do?
  11. My doctor wants to see published peer-reviewed clinical research on PSD before s/he will write me a letter of support.  What should I do?
  12. Why should I insist on establishing a business contract with my trainer?
  13. Where can I get a Psychiatric Service Dog (PSD)?
  14. What kind of dog is best suited for PSD work?
  15. Should I get a purebred or a mixed breed dog?
  16. Why should I even consider obtaining a purebred dog?
  17. What is a show breeder?
  18. What about dogs from breed rescue?
  19. What about temperament?
  20. How much on average does it cost to maintain a service dog annually?
  21. What should I feed my dog?
  22. How much will it cost to feed my dog each month?
  23. What are the basic veterinary needs of any dog?
  24. How do I choose a veterinarian?
  25. Will I become dependent on my PSD?
  26. Is it wise for an individual with severe mental illness to get so emotionally close to a dog only to have the dog die later on?  Won’t this just make the depression worse?
  27. What are the goals of PSD training?
  28. Is task training required for an animal to be considered a service animal?
  29. How can I create my own task list?:
  30. Why is training one’s own PSD so important?
  31. I’ve never trained a dog before.  Where do I begin?
  32. Why should I pay money for a private trainer, when I can train my dog in a group setting for much less?
  33. How do I find a professional dog trainer in my area?
  34. What questions should I ask a prospective trainer?
  35. How can I hire a professional dog trainer when I do not have the money?
  36. How much should I share with the trainer about my psychiatric diagnosis?
  37. How are dogs trained to alert to symptoms of psychiatric disorder in the handler?
  38. What should I do if my dog develops a behavioral problem after the initial training period is over?
  39. Where should my SD sit while in a car?
  40. What kind of identification do I need for my SD?
  41. Does my SD have to wear a vest or a harness?
  42. What supplies do I need to carry with me when my SD accompanies me in public?
  43. Must I groom my SD?
  44. My SD left a "tiny" pile of solid waste in the graveled area among some bushes outside a store.  The bushes make it hard for me to go in after it.  Is it really necessary for me to pick up after my SD, when the pile is in such an out-of-the-way place where no one will notice it anyway?
  45. Is it ok to carry a mat for my SD to rest on when we are in public?
  46. When is it ok for my SD to ‘Sit-Stay’ instead of ‘Down-Stay’?
  47. Is it okay for my service dog to decide to Sit or Down on his/her own accord?
  48. Is it ok for my SD to heel on my right side instead of my left side?
  49. Must a SD always sit when we come to a full stop on the sidewalk?
  50. Is it ok for my SD to sniff around and enjoy herself while we're walking somewhere?
  51. Should I do anything special if I encounter a vision-impaired handler with a guide dog?
  52. Is it ok for SD's to greet each other when two handlers stop to chat with one another?
  53. Is it ok to take a SD to a dog park?
  54. Is it okay for me to feed/water my service dog inside a restaurant?
  55. I saw a SD handler in a restaurant.  He put his plate on the floor and let his SD eat from it. What should I do?
  56. Is it ok for my SD to be in a chair next to me instead of on the floor?
  57. Is it ok for my SD to lick himself while on duty?
  58. What is the appropriate placement of a SD in a movie theater?
  59. If I need to stay overnight in a hotel with my SD, where should I feed/water my SD?  Where should she sleep?
  60. Is it ok to leave one's SD in the car when running an errand?
  61. I saw someone physically abuse their SD in public.  What should I do?
  62. Is it ok to board my SD at a kennel if I am going out of town?

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