Dogs have a healing effect on us. Their unconditional love and loyalty towards their master are unmatched. But you would value them more if you know how they can help and support people who are living with anxiety and other mental or emotional issues. Though most of the service dogs are trained by the professionals to work with their owners with some easy steps, you can train your own dog to help you walk through your anxiety and emotional problems.
Not Every Dog Can Be A Service Dog
Before moving forward, it is necessary for you to know that not every breed of dog has the right temperament to get trained as a service dog. You must get the pup from reputable breeders that are raising dogs only for this purpose.
- You must look for the following qualities in a dog before taking it up;
- The dog should be social and quick to greet
- Does not startle easily
- It should follow you and your instructions
- Should be alert
- Should not be aggressive or frightened when you try to hold it
Know What You Want From Your Service Dog
After getting yourself the right pup you must ensure its job. It is necessary for you to know how you want your dog to behave before starting bonding. Dogs have super intuitive powers and with little training, your dog will smell your moods and will easily know when you are in a relaxed state and when you are beginning to experience anxiety; it comes naturally to dogs.
How to train a service animal for anxiety:
Pooches can be extremely helpful for those suffering from psychological disorders, especially the likes of stress, anxiety, and PTSD. Service dogs are often trained to help people with physical disabilities. However, in a few easy steps, you can train a service animal to help people with anxiety:
- Choosing the right service dog: Choose someone who is social, greets quickly, does not get startled easily. The animal must be alert at all times and have an eagerness to be held.
- Determine the service dog's job: Dogs are very intuitive animals. Once you start bonding with the dog, the animal will start understanding when you are in a normal state and when you are experiencing anxiety and need him to be around.
- Develop socialization skills: Try to get a dog who has been trained well by breeders and has had good exposure to new people as well as new situations. You don't want to end up with a dog who is nervous or frightened at seeing different people or being in alien situations.
- Fine Tune Public Access Skills: This is an advanced level skill training for your dog, once he has mastered the basics. Take him to a retail pet store, the outdoors, a dog cafe, maybe or an animal cafe where others bring their pets too for the true test of time.
- Individual Response Training: The dog may find it difficult to respond while you are having a panic attack. However, if the two of you share a close bond, he will be able to pick up the times when you are actually having one and comfort you and sense the discomfort by the chemical changes in your body. Cuddling your dog when you are feeling stressed or are having a panic attack will automatically have a healing effect on you.
Train It For social Skills
The benefit of buying a puppy from a reputable breeder is that they will have already introduced your dog to the socialization process. Your puppy will be comfortable with new people and new situations. It will walk comfortably with you in the outdoors too. You will have to keep up the socialization and train him further so that it doesn’t get frightened or stressed when it encounters something or someone new.
Start With Basic Training Skills:
Start the training with the basic skill of obedience. Train it to follow your commands like:
You can train your dog yourself or you can take the help of a professional trainer.
Train Your Dog For The Hustle and Bustle Of Public Places
After the basic training, you should start taking your dog to public places which are pet-friendly places to sharpen his public access skills. Taking it to the retail pet stores, outdoor cafes or any other public place will help your dog to become comfortable with the hustle and bustle of public places.
Train Your Dog To Read The Body Language
The next step will be the most difficult part of the training but with patience and time, you will definitely be able to train your dog to alert a person before a panic attack.
Establish some telltale signs like giving a treat to your dog when you are experiencing anxiety to cuddling your dog close when you are under stress are some good ways to let your dog know that you are facing a panic attack. Cuddling your dog is very healing too.
You will need patience and persistence but it will be very healing and therapeutic.