How to train a service dog for anxiety and depression

How to train a service dog for anxiety and depression

It is a well-known fact now that dogs are a gift to humanity and are the most loyal friend any man can get. Earlier dogs used to only roam with humans. Both the species roam in jungles and eat together. Soon enough, dogs turned out to be a good companion and of excellent service for humans.


Service dogs are a gift to society and especially for those people with physical or mental disabilities. The service dogs provide help to people at a level that no other human can. Many people in the world have serious mental illnesses and rely heavily on their service dogs to rescue them.

What is in this article?

In this article, we will talk about an exceptional form of psychiatric service dogs that can detect Anxiety and Depression in humans. We will also discuss how to train them. 

Anxiety and Depression:

Anxiety is a term given to the stressful condition that the human body faces in different situations. An anxiety disorder is when this Anxiety increases and shows physical signs like increasing heartbeats, intense sweating, and vomiting, etc.

Depression is one of the fatal mental disorders which can turn a human into a living dead body. In Depression, the person suffers from a bad mood and inability to do any task.

Psychiatric service dogs for Depression and Anxiety

Anxiety and Depression service dogs are trained to detect these two mental illnesses inside the patient. When the dog detects Anxiety or Depression symptoms, he can alert the patient and help him/her calm down.

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Can dogs help someone with Anxiety and Depression?

service_dog_sitting_imageDogs that are trained to become psychiatric service dogs can help patients suffering from Anxiety and Depression. When a dog has a good relationship with the patient, he can detect any unusual hormonal or biological changes inside the human.

When the dog senses any unusual activity inside the patient’s body, he can alert the patient and make him feel calm and composed.

Things to consider before training:

There are certain things to consider before training the dog:

  • The dog should have good social behavior. The dog should always remain calm and composed in public and crowd.
  • The dog should be obedient and must have basic training. The dog should obey basic commands like sit, stand, stay, fetch, etc.
  • The dog should be perfectly healthy and fit for training.
  • The dog should be diagnosed with any medical disease or allergy.
  • The patient and the dog must have a good relationship between them.
  • Prepare or buy some good quality food as a reward to be given to the dog.

How to train a service dog for Anxiety and Depression?

anxiety_depression_service_dog_training_imageBefore the training starts, the dog should follow basic commands like sit, fetch, stay, and stand.

Teaching the dog to obey a command and alert:

  • Create an innovative alert for the dog.
  • The alert can be anything like pawing the patient’s knee, nudging with the nose, etc.
  • Think of a creative keyword like, ‘help’, ‘cuddle’, ‘hug’, ‘touch’, etc. 
  • Train the dog to react to any of the above keywords by alerting the patient with any alert.
  • Practice this activity until the dog becomes a pro in following the command.

Teaching anxiety and depression symptoms:

  • There are many symptoms of Anxiety, like heart racing, intense sweating, leg shaking, etc.
  • Symptoms of Depression can be, utter sadness, crying, vomiting, etc.
  • Teach the dog about these symptoms.
  • When the patient suffers from these symptoms, use the alert keyword.
  • If the dog reacts and alerts the patient, reward him.
  • Ignore the dog if he reacts unnecessarily.
  • Soon, after some practice, the dog will learn to alert the patient without the command.
  • Teach the dog how to do deep pressure therapy that can help the patient to relax.
  • When the dog detects the anxiety and depression symptoms, he can perform DPT to relax the patient if possible.

Duration of Training:

The dog should be at least one year old to start training. It can take up to 2 years to train the dog to be accurate and helpful. Professional training takes less time but is very expensive.

If you want to know more about anxiety and depression service dogs, refer these videos

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