Psychiatric Service Dogs

What is a Psychiatric Service Dog?

Psychiatric service dogs (PSDs) are dogs that are specially trained to work with people who have certain kinds of mental illnesses or learning disabilities. These dogs can help their owners perform tasks that they otherwise might not be able to do or help them to live a more independent lifestyle. These dogs are trained to work in public spaces and are required to pass a public access test 3 times in 3 difference environments in order to receive certification from Partners with Paws. Currently in Ontario there is no legal certification required, but we expect our dogs to work to higher than industry standards. Currently (2022), the only legal documentation required to obtain a service dog is a Dr’s note. Sample Dr’s note

What tasks do PSD perform? (This is not an exhaustive list)

Our dogs are trained specifically to the clients needs, however these are a few of the tasks that are generally trained:

  • Interrupt harmful behavior,
  • prevent its handler from lapsing into a panic attack,
  • provide calming pressure if the handler faints,
  • guide a person out of an alarming situation,
  • circle the handler to create personal space,
  • use its body to block other people,
  • turn on the lights if the handler needs nightmare interruption. Retrieval of items like medication and water.
What is the process of applying for a Service Dog?

Complete the application and schedule a call with Partners with Paws

Fully trained: Once your application has been approved, you will meet with one of our trainers for a consultation at your house. Then, the search for the right match will start. Currently we mostly train Labradors from Cooperslane, however on rare occasions we have trained other breeds. The time taken to fully train a service dog depends on if we already have a puppy-in-training or if we can find a suitable adult dog to train. Because of all the variables it is difficult to predict a timeframe.

Owner trained: Once you have had your call with Partners with Paws, you will be referred to a trainer. There will be a minimum of 6 months to 2 years of intensive training. This all depends on the dogs age, breed, maturity. There is no guarantee that your dog will pass. Your dog will be evaluated at regular intervals. If at anytime the evaluator feels a lack of commitment on the part of the handler or the dog is not suitable, funding for this Service Dog will end. We mainly train Labradors and highly recommend Cooperslane as our preferred breeder. It is very important to start your puppy off correctly and so we advise starting Public Access and Obedience training straight away, as soon as 8 weeks. We will provide you with an in-training vest which will be returned as your puppy grows. Once your dog has graduated they will receive the official Partners with Paws Service Dog Vest.

Graduating as a Partners with Paws team.

In Order to graduate as a Partners with Paws team you will need to pass the Public Access Test 3 times in 3 different locations. Locations will be decided by the evaluator. The evaluator is not looking to fail you but to ensure success of the team for the long term and the safety of the public. You may take the test as many times as you require but failure to some exercises will result in permanent disqualification.

On graduation you will be awarded a Partners with Paws Service Dog Vest. This vest is to be worn at all times when the dog is working. Partners with Paws does not allow custom vest and patches. *Even though there is no official certification in Ontario, you will be awarded a certification card that you can keep in your service dog’s vest should anyone ask. It is mandatory however to carry your Dr’s note with you in your service dog’s vest.

In order to graduate you will also be asked to provide:

  • Proof of veterinary care and spay/neuter.
  • Detailed log of hours training a minimum of 6 months
  • A home visit by the evaluator will be arranged to make sure that the environment is safe for a service dog.