Pat Dogs Australia assists mental health sufferers and people with autism in procuring, training and certifying mental health assistance dogs and autism assistance dogs.
Mental health assistance dogs (Psychiatric Assistance Dogs) and Autism assistance dogs are trained to reduce the impact of specific symptoms for people with mental illness or autism and improve their overall quality of life. Assistance Dogs can help guide those living with mental illness and autism back to a sense of safety, helping to improve interpersonal connections, encourage engagement in the community, and regain areas of functioning that their mental illness or autism may have diminished.
All Pat Dog Australia trained and qualified dogs to have full Public Access Rights, allowing them to accompany their handlers on all public transport and into almost all public areas. These rights are protected under Disability Discrimination Act 1992.
Pat Dogs is a registered organisation with the Transport for NSW Assistance Animal Permit program and can provide a letter in support of your application following the successful completion of our Assistance Dog Accreditation training program.
What can we do for you?
- Help train and certify your own dog as a Mental Health or Autism Assistance Dog via side-by-side dedicated trainers and structured online learning.
- Help you access NDIS funding for our Canine Capacity Building Program to help you build life skills and also help you with your future assistance dog.
- Provide specialised assistance dog training courses via our online platform &
- We also can provide Therapy Dogs for Schools or Workplaces with tailored presentations or workshops.
- Endorse your application for an Animal Assistance Permit with Transport NSW.
- Get your Assistance Dog travel rights to fly on Virgin Australia.
- Help you register your assistance dog with your local council.
How can an Assistance Dog help?
Assistance Dogs help people with Mental Health issues or Autism in two ways; Advanced Skills Training and the Human-Animal Bond:
1. Advanced Skills Training:
All Pat dogs undergo rigorous preparations for up to two years. Our dogs master bespoke cues aimed at addressing specific areas of difficulty, including:
- Positioning cues allows the handler to position the dog as needed and create space for themselves in public or crowded places, allowing for an increased sense of security and encouraging community engagement.
- Contact cues allow the handler to request physical contact facilitating grounding, mindfulness, and focus.
- Nightmare interruption allows a dog to recognise signs of distress in sleep or immediately after waking and provides support for calming.
People living with mental illness or with Autism often show external signs associated with their stress response (e.g. bouncing legs, rubbing hands, breathing heavily, sweating excessively etc.). Our mental health assistance dogs are trained to use these external signs as cues for relevant skills to provide support when needed.
Our training is highly personalised, shaping the dog’s skills to individual needs. We encourage and support ongoing skill development in our dog teams.
2. The Human-Animal bond:
The close bond between a person and their dog encourages a sense of safety which can be tremendously beneficial for people with mental illness.
The calming influence of a dog can help reduce both physical and psychological reactivity, which is particularly relevant for people who have experienced mental illness.
By tapping into this calming effect using grounding techniques, an Assistance Dog can reduce the threat response allowing for increased community engagement and calmer interpersonal interactions.
We work with successful applicants to encourage a strong bond with their dogs and, through this bond, gain the skills and motivation they need to reach their goals.
The Public Access Rights granted to Assistance Dogs allow this calming influence to be present as needed throughout the day across almost all settings.