How Do I Talk to My Health Care Provider About Getting a Service Dog?

In many regions, you need a note (presciption)from your Doctor, Psychiatrist or Nurse practictioner as proof a service dog will help you mitigate your disabilities. It may be helpful to have this prescription even if it is not required. Opening a dialogue with that person about getting a service can be hard. Here are some things to consider talking to them about. These ideas should help you explore the options with them. 

Explain if you have had a dog before and taken care of one yourself. How long, What breed or mix? How much daily exercise did s/he need? What training did you do? To what level?
Would having a pet dog help your condition? A pet can help you regulate your daily schedule, get you out of bed etc. They can also be trained to do tasks at home.
Do you have the funds to maintain a pet dog in good health? Feed, veterinary costs?
Can you afford to hire a dog walker? Trainer? Groomer? Can you groom the dog yourself?
Will your disabilities allow you to meet the social and emotional needs of a dog?

Is your disability stable at present? If not, can you foresee it being stable?

Why do you specifically need a Service Dog? Is it for rental/strata purposes? Is it for use in public places?
How to you see the dog help you (beyond the comforting role) which though important doesn't count for a SD.
What tasks can a SD can do for you in public?

What skills do you see you will acquire during the process of getting/training?

Are you willing and able to train a dog yourself? Can you build a support team that is needed to help you? Family, friends, health caregivers, groomers, vet etc.

Are there local trainers to help you select a dog?
Where would you get a dog from? Do you have a breed in mind?
Can you find a skilled human coach/trainer to help guide you?
How much of the work would you do yourself?
How would you get the funds to fully train a service dog? (May take up to 3 years).

Are you considering a puppy or adult dog? Why?

Do you have the physical ability to train a puppy or adult?
Do you mental ability to focus on training? Can you make and follow a plan?
Can you handle the emotional turmoil that accompanies living with and training a service dog?
Are you good at identifying, researching and acquiring the resources needed?

Can you follow detailed instructions in person or online (text, video)?
Does anxiety make it difficult to remember things?

Can you learn the federal and local laws about public access for service and assistance dogs? Can you explain them to someone else while staying calm?
Can you handle it when public approaches you to demand to pet your dog or just come up and hug your dog?
Can you handle confrontations by retailers and rental/strata? Can you learn how? Where will you get that help?

What other options are available to mitigate your disabilities?
Could you purchase weighted blankets, hearing aids etc? How could these be used either in place of or in combination with a service dog? 

What might be the best option for you?

Looking at all sides of the options as well as looking ahead and identifying potential benefits and challenges and figuring out how to prevent or overcome them can help you and your Dr. decide if or not a SD is a good choice for you and your disability.
If you address just half of these, your Dr will be impressed and you will be far more prepared than most people who just go out and get a dog as a SD candidate and then try to convince their healthcare provider they need one.

If you need someone to talk to, consider booking a webcam session with us. 

Good luck!