Emotional Support Dog Training Program
For people suffering from anxiety, stress, depression and panic
It was January of 2010, when I was first contacted by a young woman. She was in need of basic dog training and I quickly accepted her puppy into my basic level one training program. Her dog excelled and while he had some initial aggression issues we were able to completely eliminate the behavior and give him a shot at a real future with a person who loved and needed him far more than I realized. This person has been through horrific ordeals and is a survivor of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Acute Anxiety Disorder, and Panic Disorder. She needs her dog to get through this tough time in her life, as much as her dog needed her.
As we continued to meet privately, I taught her the Nitro K-9 training concept of Yin and Yang and the importance of emotional calmness during training. She had a very interesting question for me “can my dog be trained to come to me during a panic attack?”. It was at that moment the “Bruno Factor” training program began to materialize in my mind. We discussed whistles, clickers, snapping and even calling. I was not happy with ANY of these methods because during a panic attack the victim can seldom think clearly or even muster the strength to call for help. I had the utmost respect for this young woman because she could ask for help and be so open about her condition. She was not always able to be calm, but she could become calm through the support of her dog, Bruno. It was a reverse concept for me and it awakened an even deeper understanding of animal behavior in me after almost 16 years training dogs.
I have long taught Search & Rescue methods as well as many tracking and scent detection methods. I also have worked with dogs in the detection of elevated or lowered insulin levels in diabetes patients. I found training dogs for this purpose to not be the kind of training I enjoyed, and quickly stopped. Our four legged friends can detect seizures, earthquakes, strokes, and many, many other useful things for us, so why not ANXIETY? Why not train a dog to detect panic and anxiety and goto the owner and provide emotional support? The answer was easy, there is no reason why not. I have developed a method that successfully teaches the dogs how to detect this very common problem through sense of smell and hearing. You will not need a whistle or a clicker or anything other than the correct dog, trained for your specific needs. We are not going to BREAK your dog, as it is not needed in the way a Service dog would be needed to assist a blind person. We feel rather that focusing on the bond between dog and handler to be the correct way to train the dog for this purpose and the best way to keep your dog happy and bonded to you.
Emotional Support Dogs differ from Psychiatric Service dogs as Psychiatric Service Dogs are trained with specific tasks to alievate disability-caused problems. However, your dog can go to any level you choose to train and put the work in to take him or her to, provided the animal has the proper drive. It must also be understood that not every dog is a good candidate for this type of training as a high retrieve drive and a strong scenting drive are needed to accomplish the scent association of panic and the response to RESPOND, for our training program in Emotional Support.
Our Emotional Support Dog program “The Bruno Factor” has been one of the most uplifting endeavors of my life. We will offer any assistance needed for the proper behavior and testing of your dog for this purpose. As a person who has struggled with anxiety and panic myself, I find this program to be my favorite. I am ALWAYS glad when helping a client have the piece of mind that his/her dog can be made aware of the owner’s mental and physical state.
Here is a link that explains The Differences Between Emotional Support Dogs and Psychiatric Therapy Dogs.
Nitro K-9’s “Emotional Support Dog” Training Program can prepare dogs to test and pass for the following certifications:
- Emotional Support Animal
- Psychiatric Service Dog
(Dog will be trained to perform a “SPECIFIC” task or set of tasks)
- Therapy Dog
(Therapy dogs are not trained specifically for an individual)
We are here to help and we understand how frightening anxiety and panic are. We feel that with the support of your medical professional we can help you select a dog for this purpose or we can come and test the dog you have.
We do NOT diagnose any of the above mentioned conditions, P.T.S.D, G.A.D, or Panic Disorder, you must be diagnosed by a medical doctor or a Psychiatric Doctor to qualify for this program.
Emotional Support Dogs in Washington State require a letter a physician explaining that you need the dog to help enhance your quality of life caused by a disability (In Danielle’s case, PTSD). We DO NOT provide this letter nor do we have the authority to do so, we are just the dog’s trainers.
When training for a Psychiatric Service Dog we require your doctor to write a letter and suggest which specific tasks the animal should learn to support YOUR condition. After we have accomplished this you may apply for certification through your local governing body. The ADA, however, defines a service dog as an animal being specifically trained to provide assistance to an individual with a disability.
How do I find out if my dog has what it takes to be in this program?
Upon evaluation of your dog and the details of your relationship with your dog: we will create a custom training program to prepare your dog for a specific psychiatric task or emotional support.
Do you train dogs for the blind or for other special needs?
Yes, we can train your dog to perform and pass the necessary tests for certification. This of course, is if your dog passes temperament and training.
How do you bill for this?
We DO NOT charge more for this type of training.
If your dog is over 35lbs please click here for pricing information for Level One training.
If your dog is under 35lbs please click here for our Mini Hero’s pricing structure.