Psychiatric Service Dogs



TASK TRAINING Psychiatric service dog tasks vary to mitigate specific disability needs. Here are a few examples:

Deep Pressure Therapy prevent or recover from panic attacks.
Tactile Stimulation licking or pawing can ground handler in extreme distress.
Blocking creates more space for their handler.
Interruption of Self Harming by licking, pawing, or barking.
Guide Work and Mobility helps with disassociating, during panic attacks, and when disoriented.


A Psychiatric Service Dog is specifically trained to assist their handler with a disability as defined by the ADA such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), schizophrenia, depression, anxiety, ​or​ bipolar disorder. An exceptional psychiatric service dog is individually trained to do work and perform tasks that mitigate their handler’s disability.

The Exceptional Sidekick (TESSD) provides psychiatric service dogs to support disabled teens and young adults, empowering young handlers to complete their education and live independently. You must be in therapy for a minimum of one year and believe a service dog could drastically improve your life, to apply. Service dogs are provided at no cost for ages 12-22 that reside in Newtown, and to others within Connecticut able to make a donation or willing to fundraise half the cost of raising and training the dog.


TESSD is a small non-profit organization with far too many applications each week. We do our very best to respond to all applications, but due to limited resources it may not be possible to reply to every inquiry. If your application does not appear to be a good fit for a service dog we will let you know as soon as possible. You will be notified the minute a dog becomes available and according to your application could be a good fit. Our dogs are placed with the person that is the best match and has the strongest possibility of success in becoming a sidekick team.

Unfortunately, the wait for a trained program psychiatric service dog varies; it could be within a year or we may never have a dog that fits your specific needs. We do open up our waitlist as often as possible, but please understand, it takes up to two years to complete a puppy’s training, making it very difficult to determine how long you will wait once you are approved.

If you are in desperate need of a service animal, we encourage you to reach out to as many organizations accredited by Assistance Dogs International as possible. We urge you to be very cautious and do your research for each organization, there are many selling service dogs that are aggressive, untrained, and they offer no follow up support.

The Exceptional Sidekick does not train balance dogs, seizure alert dogs, or guide dogs for the blind. We are only accepting applications for Psychiatric Service Dogs at this time. Once those needs are met we will accept applications for other disabilities.

psychiatric service dogs during public access class at a zoo

psychiatric service dog helps a patient through a medical procedure with deep pressure therapy