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Flying With The Psychiatric Service Dog For The First Time.

Updated on May 09, 2023 by Lisa Tevis
The first time you fly with a psychiatric service dog (PSD), you can feel nervous, uncertain, embarrassed, hesitant, or all of the above. That is entirely comprehensible. It can be frightening to fly for the first time with a service dog for mental health, and it doesn’t help that the new guidelines for service dogs’ travel are confusing. Your PSD may also be necessary if you suffer from a phobia or anxiety or panic disorder.

Make sure your dog satisfies the legal requirements for being a service dog before you take any action to fly with your pet.

Here comes the question whether mental or emotional health conditions can be counted as disabilities. Any person suffering from a mental disorder, panic conditions, bipolar disorder, severe anxiety, and autism can have a psychiatric service dog that can be used to treat a wide range of potential illnesses. You may have a handicap that calls for a service dog if your mental health condition significantly restricts at least one main living function, such as sleeping, working, socializing, or attending school.

If you’re still unsure whether your mental or emotional health condition will be counted as a disability or not, then you can take the help of a licensed mental health professional LMHP who will further help you in getting your disorder condition more clearly in front of you. Some experts provide signed PSD letter that will serve as documentation of your condition. This is especially useful if you have to self-certify on a federal form that you have a “disability” when you travel.

flying with PSD Dog for the first time

Make Sure Of Your Dog As It Should Be Trained Properly

The advantages of owning a service dog aren’t available to you until your dog has completed all of its training. It needs to be skilled in carrying out at least one task associated with your impairment. Psychiatric service dogs are adaptable and can help their owners with a wide range of problems. a few instances are mentioned below:

  • Encourage its owner to take their medication or complete a regular duty.
  • Eliminate night-time terrors.
  • Eliminate damaging behaviors in yourself or dissociative episodes.
  • In triggering circumstances, create a barrier or perimeter around its owner.
  • In times of stress, anxiety attacks, or panic attacks, apply pressure by pawing, licking, prodding, embracing, or any other means.

Also, your PSD needs to be prepared to function in public. Ideally, your assistance dog should have passed a test for public access. For dogs, stressful situations include airports and flights where the excitement, noise, and kids may frighten or distract them. You should be careful about your dog so that it won’t jump on people aggressively, or bark high and not make people uncomfortable around them.

Before taking the flight make sure you’ve filled in the document you need to fill out. Except for (the Department of Transportation’s Service Animal Air Transportation Form) all airlines accept the document which you have to fill out for carrying your dog to the flight.

You can bring your dog into the cabin without paying anything once you’ve submitted this form successfully. If they are little enough, they can sit on the ground or on your lap. Larger psychiatric service animals are accepted as long as they can fit under your feet area that is under your seat. The form should be submitted 48 hours before taking a flight then only your form will be accepted.

Many people do not like attention and might get worried about drawing attention if they get a dog at the airport. These people who possess psychiatric service dogs struggle with social phobias or anxieties and dislike being the center of attention from complete strangers. Thankfully, disability laws safeguard both your right to dignity and privacy.

What Can Someone Ask From You About Your Service Dog?

You have the option to remain silent if another passenger inquires about your well-being or the purpose of your assistance dog. They have no right to inquire about your requirement for a service dog for mental health. Though it’s uncommon, if you do, just be aware that they’re unsuitable and have the option to ignore them.

Yes but, your mental service dog can only be verified by an airline agent or flight attendant if they ask two specific questions. That is:

  • Is your service dog here with you because of your disability?
  • In this case, you just need to answer with yes or no.
  • They have no right to ask you further questions about what disability you have. Privacy law protects that information.

What Work Or Task Has The Dog Been Trained To Perform?

You would only mention the very minimum of what duties your service dog carries out. Nobody has the right to request that your dog perform a task demonstration.

The majority of people who possess psychiatric service dogs depend on their dogs to carry out activities when they are at their most vulnerable or in response to a traumatic or triggering experience. It would be terrible for anyone to demand that the owner of a service dog for mental illness imitate these circumstances. Doing this in front of strangers could be traumatizing as well. No one has the right to force your dog to execute its role as evidence that it has been taught for a specific task, and air travel disability regulations fully acknowledge this.

Keep in mind that you are entitled to privacy. As previously indicated, airline employees are only permitted to ask you two questions, and other passengers are not permitted to obtrusively interrogate you. Nobody has the right to question you about your mental health, especially since owners of psychiatric service dogs frequently experience traumatic histories. Talking about their problems can also be upsetting for them.

About the Author

Lisa Tevis
Lisa Tevis
Lisa is a talented professional writer at Fast ESA Letter, fueled by a deep passion for animals. With a natural affinity for their well-being, Lisa combines her writing skills with her love for animals to create engaging and informative content. As a proud pet parent, Lisa shares her life with two beloved dogs, who have enriched her understanding of the human-animal bond. Through her work, Lisa aims to raise awareness about emotional support animals (ESAs) and their positive impact on mental health.

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