Work and Task List


This service dog task list details work and task items for psychiatric service dogs. Such a psychiatric service dog task list shows the wide range of services a psychiatric service dog may offer, and can help current and future psychiatric service dog users decide what your dog can do to help!

A printable (pdf) version of this list is available as well:

2015 Work and Task List

This list is not intended to be comprehensive or definitive as a service dog task list, but is merely a guide regarding what a service might be trained to do for someone with a psychiatric disability. Each individual has different needs that might be fulfilled in a variety of ways, and each dog has its unique capabilities and challenges.

Many behavior types are listed as “Work or task” because their instances can be cued either by intentional commands (with tasks) or non-intentionally by something else in the environment or person’s body (with work). Theoretically, whether an assistance occurrence is work or is a task could be unclear; see PSDP’s work and task articles for more information. Regardless of the work/task distinction, what actually matters is the person is getting needed assistance for their disability.

If your viewing window/screen is not wide enough, the table items will appear stacked. Please consult the pdf version of the Work and Task List if you cannot stretch your browser to the point at which three separate columns appear.

 

Symptom
Assistive Behavior
Assistance Type

Aggressive driving
Alert to (incipient) episode
Work

Anxiety
Ground handler
Work or task
Guide handler to a safe place
Work or task
Tactile stimulation or deep pressure therapy
Work or task

Apathy/disengagement
Tactile stimulation or deep pressure therapy
Work or task

Catatonic behavior
Ground handler
Work or task

Change in breathing pattern
Alert to (incipient) episode
Work

Chills
Pressure and warmth stimulation
Work or task

Delusions
Ground Handler
Work or task

Depersonalization
Tactile stimulation or deep pressure therapy
Work or task

Disorganization
Remind handler to perform daily routines
Work

Difficulty assessing emotions
Provide reliable signals to handler regarding emotions
Work

Difficulty initiating movement
Tactile stimulation to “break the spell”
Work or task

Difficulty navigating
Lead handler to important locations on cue
Work or task

Disorganized speech or behavior
Ground handler
Work or task

Disorientation or confusion
Guide handler home or to a safe place
Work or task

Dissociation
Ground handler
Work
Tactile stimulation to interrupt or deep pressure therapy
Work

Dissociative flashback
Ground handler
Work
Tactile stimulation to interrupt or deep pressure therapy
Work

Dissociative fugue
Guide home, to a safe place, or assist crossing streets
Work

Distractibility
Tactile stimulation or deep pressure therapy
Work

Dizziness*
Brace or counterbalance handler
Work or task

Emotional escalation
Alert to (incipient) episode
Work
Ground handler
Work or task

Fear
Guide handler to a safe place
Work or task
Tactile stimulation or deep pressure therapy
Work or task

Fear of leaving home
Tactile stimulation or deep pressure therapy
Work or task

Feeling overwhelmed
Guide handler to a safe place
Work or task

Feelings of isolation
Tactile stimulation or deep pressure therapy
Work or task

Fight or flight response
Guide handler to a safe place
Work or task
Tactile stimulation or deep pressure therapy
Work or task

Flashbacks or distress
Ground handler
Work or task
Tactile stimulation or deep pressure therapy
Work or task

Flat affect
Alert to (incipient) episode
Work or task

Forgotten personal identity
Give identification documents to others for assistance
Work or task

Hallucination
Hallucination discernment—alert to real people or noises
Work

Hyperfocus
Alert to (incipient) episode
Work

Hyperlocomotion
Alert to (incipient) episode
Work

Hypersomnia
Wake up handler
Work

Hypervigilance
Ground Handler
Work or task
Non-aggressively search house for intruders†
Work or task
Tactile stimulation or deep pressure therapy
Work or task

Increase in heart rate
Alert to (incipient) episode
Work
Tactile stimulation or deep pressure therapy
Work or task

Insomnia
Remind handler to go to bed
Work
Focus/interact until handler initiates sleep preparation
Work or task

Intrusive thoughts/images
Tactile stimulation or deep pressure therapy
Work or task

Irritability
Alert to (incipient) episode
Work

Memory loss
Find keys or telephone
Task
Remind to take medication
Work

Muscle tension
Alert to (incipient) episode
Work

Nausea
Tactile stimulation or deep pressure therapy
Work or task

Night terrors
Ground handler
Work or task
Turn on lights
Work or task
Wake up handler
Work

Olfactory or behavioral cue
Alert to (incipient) episode
Work

Pounding heart
Alert to (incipient) episode
Work
Tactile stimulation or deep pressure therapy
Work or task

Psychomotor retardation
Guide handler using harness or leash
Work or task

Psychosis
Ground handler
Work or task

Racing thoughts
Tactile stimulation or deep pressure therapy
Work or task

Repetitive/compulsive behavior
Interrupt repetitive behavior
Work

Restlessness or distractibility
Alert to (incipient) episode
Work
Tactile stimulation or deep pressure therapy
Work or task

Sadness or tearfulness
Tactile stimulation or deep pressure therapy
Work or task

Self-mutilation
Ground handler
Work or task
Interrupt or prevent by alerting or tactile stimulation
Work or task

Sensitivity to sound
Close door to block noise
Work or task
Ground handler
Work or task

Sensory overload
Ground handler
Work or task
Tactile stimulation or deep pressure therapy
Work or task

Sleep disturbance
Alert to intruders
Work
Ground handler
Work or task
Keep handler in bed
Work or task

Social withdrawal
Initiate desired/needed interpersonal interaction
Work or task

Startle response
Alert to presence of others
Work
Ground handler
Work or task
Non-aggressively stand between handler and others
Work or task

Suicidal ideation
Tactile stimulation or deep pressure therapy
Work or task
Ground handler
Work or task

Trembling
Tactile stimulation or deep pressure therapy
Work or task

 

* Some listed symptoms may not be psychiatric in origin, but are common side effects of psychiatric medications.
† It is never acceptable to train work or tasks that involve the service dog being aggressive. Similarly, assistance behaviors intended to be perceived as aggressive are not acceptable.