Service Dogs & Therapy Dogs

Parent Q&A

PTSD therapist who also knows about service dog certification Jun 7, 2017 (1 responses below)
How to get an emotional support dog Jan 10, 2017 (4 responses below)
Service Dog Jan 8, 2017 (2 responses below)
  •   Can you recommend a therapist familiar with PTSD?  Do you know what are the requirements for qualifying to have a trained Service Dog (SD) --for PTSD?  (I've learned that A trained SD is different from a "therapy" dog or an "Emotional support" dog. )

    I have a long history of PTSD challenges.  Now with husband & daughter both ill for last 2 years, my PTSD symptoms are back (& have been present for last 9 months or so). My symptoms include Insomnia, nightmares, etc. and  during the day I'm tense, compulsively worrying and/or irritable. Also, I hit a wall often when I'm in public. Can't remember, get nauseated & want to leave if there are other people around.  I force myself to do things that used to give me pleasure.

    3 years ago our dog (a yellow lab mix) died: he was almost 15 years old. I've been without a dog ever since.   Even though he wasn't trained as a Service Dog, Petey intuited when I needed him to nudge me out of depression/our of the 'wall' that causes disorientation; he'd remind me to talk a walk, and he'd wake me up if I was having a bad dream. Amazing dog!

    Hello.. I'm sorry for your troubles.  It is possible we could help with finding a dog and the guidelines.   There is no official central organization that dispenses papers. Because it is related the laws around disabilities, people can only ask you -  if it is a service dog and - what service the dog performs.

    If you're looking to replace your dog, there are organizations that train service dogs.  Some places, like the guide dogs programs for the blind in San Rafael have breeder dogs, that are more available.  I understand it is a different condition.  Yet the dog's personality (high desire to please, calm, trainable) is similar.  

    There are also some places like Gabby Jack Ranch that have trained service dogs and have also bred dogs with service dog personalites.  We were lucky enough have one of their dogs, and I would trust them.  They used to be a non-profit training center, and now, I think they also have a for profit division for puppies.  The owner is Jacquie is super helpful.

  • How to get an emotional support dog

    (4 replies)


    I have pretty bad anxiety and depression and it's no overstatement to say that my dog has saved my life more than once and kept me sane. Right now I'm allowed to have a pet but I may have to move and it's pretty hard to find a place that allows dogs. I don't have the first idea how to do this, but how would I get certified as needing an emotional support animal (is that the right term?), if my current dog could fill that bill or if I would have to get a dog already certified (and what that process would be?)

    Any ideas? Please no judgment. I'm not looking to take my dog to the store or whatever, just to have one in my home because it helps me more than any medication ever could.

    There is a service dog which are certified. They need special training. And there is emotional support dog which is what u have. My mom has an emotional support animal. She had to get a doctor's note saying that it would help her in order for her to have it in the apt. The downside about emotional support dog is stores can refuse to let them in unlike a certified service animal they have to let them in.

    Your dog qualifies as an emotional support dog and there is no official "certification" despite what some online companies claim to offer (for a fee). First link is for information on rights for Psychiatric Service and Emotional Support Animals in California, and second link provides information on housing rights for tenants with such animals.

    Good luck!

    Companion animals can make wonderful emotional support animals and it sounds like your dog already is one, just without the paperwork! I know that in order to fly with an emotional support animal you only need a note from a licensed mental health professional (although a medical doctor familiar with your condition may also qualify) stating that you benefit from having an emotional support animal and (if this is the case for you) need it with you while you travel and at your destination. I imagine a similar letter is all you need for a living situation- a letter on official letter head from a mental health professional stating that you benefit from the emotional support provided by your animal and it is an important component to your mental health treatment. Just an important reminder as well that emotional support animals are NOT service animals and should never be represented as such- the paperwork sadly doesn't entitle you to bring your dog into restaurants or on trains or anywhere else where only service dogs are permitted. They do not require any special training or certification, though if you intend to fly with them or bring them into public settings they should be well behaved and calm in busy environments. Best of luck to you.

  • Service Dog

    (2 replies)

    As posted earlier my adult son lives with epilepsy.  He would like a service dog. Two doctors have written a RX for one.  But we discover that the already-trained ones are super expensive ($30,000 and up !) and even if we had the $ the wait is too long. His Texas aunt used to train service dogs & possibly he can go there for a week or two to get started, but we're wondering

    (1) Can you recommend Petco or Petsmart classes/instructor who might be helpful for son & dog (yet to be found)?

    (2) recommend books, web pages, even youtubes ?

    (3)  other recommendations?

    Thanks for your time & consideration.

    RE: Service Dog ()

    Nor cal k9 in Oakley ca

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Service dog for 12-year-old's anxiety

Nov 2015

I would like to find a yougd service dog for my 12 years old daughter to help with anxiety. She is asking me to get a dog or puppy for many years, doesn't want medications for anxiety, doesn't sleep well, it affects her school performance and very hard on both of us. Somebody suggested a service dog and I think it might be a perfect solution because we both love dogs. I am a single mom, work a lot so my daughter will have a cute companion.

If you or someone you know used a service dog for anxiety especially for a teen, please share:
  • did it actually help? Do you feel much better?
  • What exactly service dog does that normal pet dog doesn't? What extra skills it has to help with anxiety?
  • where to get a service dog? who trains it to becone a service dog?
  • I have asthma and allergies so would like to have a hypoallergenic breed like poodle or goldendoodle or labradoodle, where to get a service dog in such breed?

I am ok to fly out of state to buy it and expensive cost is ok, just want some help for my daughter and dog might be safer then meds. Mom

I'm so sorry your daughter is suffering with anxiety and sleep issues. The impairment she experiences would have to be severe to qualify for a service dog. My guess is that if you have the option to not try any meds, then she is suffering but probably not disabled. If she doesn't qualify for a service dog and the associated ADA protections, look at therapy/ emotional support dogs.

Here is a link to a good explanation of service dogs, including psychiatric service dogs vs. therapy and emotional support dogs:

Additional non-drug/ non-invasive treatments that can be helpful with anxiety are neurofeedback/ biofeedback, and behavioral therapy which is aimed at recognizing triggers and devising do-able strategies to minimize the anxiety. Best wishes. Chris

Therapy dogs for home visits?

March 2012

I'm hoping to find a therapy dog to visit my 93-year-old mother in El Cerrito who is sharp and lucid but physically limited (not bedridden) and misses having a dog with her. Does anyone know of a service group or volunteer with a therapy dog for weekly home visits? There are several therapy dog (and cat) organizations in this area, but they are focused on visits to institutions, not individuals. El Cerrito

Dear Cerrito, My mom (who lives in E.C.) has a therapy dog whom she takes to Children's hospital once or twice a month. You might try contacting Children's to see if they can give you any leads

Try Mostly they organize visits to assisted living centers, nursing homes, hospitals and schools, but it's very likely there is someone willing to do home visits as well.