Training service dogs for adolescents living with debilitating anxiety disorders, like social anxiety, Depression and PTSD, requires very specialized knowledge and skills – in both the trainer and the dog. These service dogs must possess a perceptive nature, a courteous, compliant temperament and an intuitive spirit in order to perform their duties independently when the individual is facing a crisis. Hero Kids Foundation's training team works to identify and evaluate these unique dogs, and then train them to recognize and interrupt the behaviors associated with anxiety, panic attacks and nightmares. HKF’s trainers evaluate both dogs and applicants in order to effectively pair a successful team.
Each dog is trained to a standard, and additional training is customized to the individual needs of the applicant. HKF is committed to working together with the applicant and their service dog as they learn to work as a team to increase physical, emotional and social self-sufficiency. The dogs are trained to perform many services including, but not limited to:
• Alleviate anxiety/distress and provide psycho-emotional grounding by nudging, pawing, and leaning.
• Assist a person in waking from night terrors and nightmares.
• Distract a person from an event or specific maladaptive behavior by nudging, pawing, and licking.
• Bring medication to a person on command or when alerted to do so by a timer/alarm.
• Stand in front of or circle an individual in crowded areas in order to create personal space in a non-aggressive manner.
• Lead an individual safely to a building exit when experiencing an anxiety or panic attack.
• Get help by alerting another person or activate an emergency button or alert system.
A trained adolescent service dog is a tool and is not intended to substitute or replace current therapeutic or medication treatment plan.