Category Archives: Anxiety



Russell suffers from PTSD, anger issues, depression, anxiety, and pain management.

Austin trainer Lori writes:

“Russell and Chewie took the Public Access Test at Walmart in Cedar Park, TX. Chewie was just outstanding, and it’s all because of the hard work Russell has put into his training. This team was spot on!


Chewie did not try to leave vehicle until given release command.

Chewie waited in the vehicle until released.* Yes
Chewie waited outside the vehicle under control. Yes
Chewie remained under control while another dog was walked. Yes


Relative heel position, not straining or forging.

Chewie stayed in relative heel position. Always
Chewie was calm around traffic.* Yes
Chewie stopped when Russell came to a halt. Always


Chewie waited quietly at the door until commanded to enter.* Yes
Chewie waited on the inside until able to return to heel position.* Yes


Chewie was within the prescribed distance of Russell. Always
Chewie ignored the public, remaining focused on Russell. Always
Chewie readily adjusted to speed changes. Always
Chewie readily turned corners–did not have to be tugged or jerked to change direction. Always
Chewie readily maneuvered through tight quarters. Always


Chewie responded readily to the recall command–did not stray away, seek attention from others, or trudge slowly.* Yes
Chewie remained under control and focused on Russell.* Yes
Chewie came within the prescribed distance of Russell.* Yes
Chewie came directly to Russell.* Yes


Chewie responded promptly to the command to sit. Always
Chewie remained under control around food–not trying to get food and not needing repeated corrections.* Yes
Chewie remained composed while the shopping cart passed–did not shy away, show signs of fear, etc.* Yes
Chewie maintained a sit-stay while being petted by a stranger.* Yes


Chewie responded promptly to the command to down. Always
Chewie remained under control around the food–not trying to get food and not needing repeated corrections.* Yes
Chewie remained in control while the child approached – child should not taunt Chewie or be overly dramatic.* Yes


If Chewie jumps, turns, or shows a quick startle type reaction, that is fine. Chewie should not show fear, aggression, or continue to be affected by the noise.

Chewie remained composed during the noise distraction.* Yes


Chewie is unobtrusive and out of the way of patrons and employees as much as possible.* Yes
Chewie maintained proper behavior, ignoring food and being quiet.* Yes


When told to drop the leash, the team maintained control and Russell got the leash back in position.* Yes


Another person can take Chewie’s leash and Russell can move away without aggression or undue stress on the part of Chewie.* Yes


Chewie stayed in relative heel position. Always
Chewie was calm around traffic.* Yes
Chewie stopped when Russell came to a halt. Always


Chewie waited until commanded to enter the vehicle. Yes
Chewie readily entered the vehicle upon command. Yes


When Chewie did well, Russell praised Chewie. Always
Chewie is relaxed, confident, and friendly. Always
Russell kept Chewie under control. Always
Russell was prepared with proper working materials and equipment in case of an access confrontation (laws, etc.). Yes

PASS TEST: Yes – with a score of 100%!!”

Army Wounded Warrior Rosamaria and “Gunnie”.

From our trainer Barbara in Wichita Falls, who had her initial intake and assessment with Army Wounded Warrior Rosamaria and her SDIT, English Bulldog, “Gunnie”. Rosamaria suffers from PTSD, major depressive disorder, chronic anxiety, anger issues, night terrors, and panic attacks.

Barbara writes:

“The first session was at Rosa’s home. I performed an initial intake and assessment of Gunnie as a potential Service Dog.

Environment: I met Rosa and Gunnie at her home on a cool day, 32 degrees with a slight breeze. Rosa lives on the third floor of an apartment complex. Initially, I met Rosa and Gunnie in the parking lot of their apartment complex. Gunnie was walking on a harness and pulling in front of Rosa.

Initial Focus and Demeanor: Gunnie was more interested in me than his surroundings, and gravitated toward me. Gunnie was sometimes distracted by his surroundings, but quickly changed focus. Gunnie makes eye contact voluntarily and holds it for a few moments. Gunnie was relaxed, calm and had high energy.

Touch and Handling: Gunnie allows petting under his chin and is okay with gentle full-body touching. He accepts full-body massage-like pressure. Gunnie is comfortable with mouth handling, stroking, lifting lips to look at teeth, and I could safely put my hand in his mouth. Gunnie did pull away without teeth touching skin.

Response to Distractions: Gunnie did fine with people at a distance and basically ignored them. Rosa shared that Gunnie has alerted to strangers at night, and keeps his eyes on them until they are no longer in sight. Gunnie has no problems with any man, woman, child or other dogs. He does startle to loud noises, but recovers quickly. Gunnie whines at other dogs wanting to play with them. Rosa shared that cats are a definite NO NO for Gunnie. Gunnie goes to PetSmart and has no problems with people, children and dogs.

Trainability: Gunnie is totally food motivated and willingly followed through for sit, stand, down, watch me, heel, and he kept his focus on myself and Rosa, whoever was training.

Final Focus and Demeanor: Gunnie is more comfortable and focused on me especially with treats. Gunnie gave eye contact more easily now while in the home. Gunnie has been walking on a harness.

What extra tasks were worked today? We discussed buying items from Active Dogs through Service Dog Express for a discount, and Rosa stated she had a few items picked out. I encouraged her to send that information to SDE to receive her 18% discount. We also discussed using a prong collar and treats to help Gunnie to learn to heel in the correct position. Rosa stated that he pulled more initially, and was doing better but they haven’t really worked on it recently. Rosa heeled with Gunnie in her apartment with treats and Gunnie stayed with her and in heel position most of the time. We also discussed using one word commands; Rosa hasn’t decided which to use; sit or up.

What improvements were made since last session? Rosa stated Gunnie did not like going into the down position. Gunnie gave wonderful downs for me without hesitations along with treats.

What area(s) need attention? Figure out commands, keep them one word, and use consistently.

What homework was given for the next session? Work on Sit, Stand, Down and add the Stays. Work on correct heel position (Gunnie’s front leg in line with Rosa’s left leg) and don’t forget to play. Practice at least one hour a day.

What a beautiful team – and Gunnie is fantastic!! Rosa would like for Gunnie to help her break her panic attacks and flashbacks and help to calm her. She shared that Gunnie naturally leans on her legs or sits between her legs and leans one way when she is experiencing anxiety. We will work toward helping Rosa and Gunnie fine tune this skill to help Rosa the best way possible.”

Capone’s Success Story

The animal rescue world is challenging on the best of days. We see the broken and unwanted of the City of San Antonio on a daily basis. One of the most unforgettable of those days was 5 weeks ago, when Capone walked through our door. He was starving, with patches of hair missing, broken teeth, and his ears jagged and cropped…you won’t believe his transformation…read more at  SAPA – San Antonio Pets Alive | Capone’s Story

Denise and her Terrier, Lance

From our trainer, Renee in Austin, who had her first assessment/intake session with Denise and her Terrier, “Lance”. Denise suffers from diabetes, anxiety, and Sjorgren’s Disease (a mild form of lupus) and would like Lance to be trained as a medical alert Service Dog.

Renee writes:

“ We met at Denise’s home for our first session. SDIT Lance met all the criteria of the assessment regarding temperament and trainability. Denise will need to work a little with Lance not being distracted by other dogs, but absolutely no aggression was exhibited. His shot records were already obtained and he is on monthly preventative. They had also had him recently groomed at PetSmart, so he is well taken care of. Lance exhibits a close bond with Denise, which is just the ticket. Her two sons in the home and husband are all on-board with doing whatever they can to make the training go well.

We focused on the assessment and on encouraging Denise to have a clear picture of what she would like Lance to do in order to best help her. She will ultimately be teaching him to “Find Help” if she should have a diabetic crisis and then, of course, to bring that help (person) back to her. She feels that Lance is already alerting her when she is having anxiety.

Homework given for the next session was to work on being around the distraction of other dogs while maintaining focus on Denise. She will also get Lance out to the football practice sessions her sons have, thus giving Lance distractions by large crowds and by other dogs. She will also work on a clear picture of what her goal will be with Lance to best help her in the situation of her hypoglycemia and lupus symptoms. Denise will also review and be knowledgeable of the tasks ahead that will be mastered to pass the Public Assess Test. Denise will be ordering the proper vest and equipment. She hopes also to find out about the Flex Account that ideally will help her to pay for the sessions.

Wonderful update from Julianne about “Khan”

A wonderful update from Julianne, whose family adopted “Khan”, (initially named Blanco). Blanco was found as a stray and so many people helped in saving him, getting him veterinary care, and fostering him – and Julianne’s family instantly knew he would be perfect for Julianne, who was at a summer internship at Harvard. Julianne suffers from severe anxiety, an eating disorder, and OCD. Since she has returned from Harvard, after many “Skype” sessions with Khan so he could learn her voice, they have developed a wonderful bond!

Recently, Julianne wrote:

“Hi Laurie! Great news on how Khan’s training is going! I love him SO much! He instantly applies the deep pressure therapy before I sleep, and it helps me get a good night’s rest without nightmares. Last night, he came onto the couch with me and just plopped down right on me! I said, “Khan, you are not a 2 pound baby but u act like it – you are 80 pounds!!

So, I usually go on long walks with him later in the day when it is cool. Sometimes, due to my disabilities, I sort of “space out” during the day. On this particular day, I was spaced out while walking him and I really don’t remember what I do when I’m spaced out – all I know is I was pulled back because a car was coming at us. Khan actually pulled the leash so that I was alerted when the car was coming. He saved my life! I gave him so many treats for his amazing heroic behavior and we went on our way back home.

He is amazing in every way!!!!


Meghan and her American Staffordshire Terrier, Precious

From our trainer Austin Maddie, who had her second training session with Meghan and her American Staffordshire Terrier, “Precious”. Meghan suffers from severe anxiety, fibromyalgia, pain management, and PTSD.

Maddie writes:

“Today, at Meghan’s apartment complex sidewalks and the dog park, we worked the whole hour on helping Precious ignore other dogs. I had my partner Allie bring our dog “Chaos” to assist. Allie and Chaos started by walking around far away, and anytime Precious would pull, bark, whine, etc., we would redirect his attention. I instructed Meghan to put a treat at his nose, tell him to sit, and then pull it up to her nose while saying “watch me”. After he mastered it with Chaos far away, we steadily moved closer and closer. 45 minutes later, Allie could walk Chaos in circles around Precious and Meghan and Precious would maintain control and eye contact with Meghan! He did so well!!! We then moved to the dog park to see if he would behave as well off leash… In the dog park (after sniffing and marking everything) he would heel next to Meghan off-leash and pay attention to her. I believe in an unfamiliar place, he would do even better, as the dog park is his usual playtime space.

Precious did so amazing ignoring Chaos today! Last session, we were outside working and another dog came by, and Precious was completely out of control. So much improvement was made this session; Precious is an incredibly smart dog.

For homework, Meghan is supposed to practice the “sit” and “watch me” anytime they are outside walking around. Next session, we are going to the Boardwalk to practice in a busier place with more dogs.”

Wounded Warrior Amber and SDIT Holiday

From our trainer, Beverli, who had her second session with Wounded Warrior, Amber, and her SDIT, hound mix,“Holiday”. Amber suffers from Bipolar disorder, anxiety, depression, and back problems.

Beverli writes:

“Today we began Holiday’s introduction to the Public Access Test rules and skills at Petsmart. We worked on “heel”, “leave it” when Holiday got distracted by smells or other people, and a calm, controlled “entry” into and out of different stores. We also worked on “sit-stay” and “down-stay”.

I brought my own Service Dog, Luke, to test Holiday’s distraction with other dogs. Holiday was focused on Amber, regardless of Luke’s location and proximity to him.

Amber and Holiday’s bond has grown since our last session. He responds quickly to basic “sit” and “down” responses, and this shows Amber’s diligence in working with him.

Holiday’s overall comfort and ease in public locations needs improvement. He needs work with socializing and experiencing many new places.

Homework for next session is to work on “touch” in public, and to work on Amber’s handling of Holiday in public in a calm manner.

Paul and his SDIT Jill

From our Austin trainer Maddie, who had her second session with Paul and his SDIT, American Staffordshire Terrier Mix, “Jill”. Paul has had epilepsy that started when he was 21. He had no prior history of seizures. He continues to have seizures despite changing medicines and upping the dosages. Consequently, he’s always worried that he will have a seizure and has developed anxiety, PTSD, and depression. He has no physical limitations other than not driving due to epilepsy.

Maddie writes:

“Today was my first meeting with Paul at his home after he adopted Jill 2 weeks ago, giving them time to bond. It went wonderfully! Jill can already “sit”, “down”, “stay”, “load and unload out of a vehicle in a controlled manner”, “heels” well slightly behind Paul and never pulls, doesn’t have a prey drive or any desire to pull Paul to meet strange dogs, she “waits” and follows Paul through doors, loves kids and adults, and was perfectly fine when I had her leash as well. That is well over half the Public Access Test! However, we have to work on her “coming” when called. Paul and I think she has a history of abuse before being rescued… this is because she loves to give kisses and snuggle, but if you stand up and walk toward her or call her while standing she does not want to come. However, if you are sitting on the floor, she comes perfectly. We think that the standing person (being so much bigger than her) makes her scared. She also is frightened by loud, unexpected noises, but recovers quickly. We spent the whole session figuring out what her comfort zone was in relation to coming when called.

The only things to work on for the PAT are: “coming” when called, “leaving” food that is dropped, and continuing to “heel” when Paul drops the leash.

I noticed immediately that Jill seemed much less skittish than when she was first adopted from the shelter, and was very comfortable in her new home. Paul also took Jill to meet his family and their dogs. He said at the first meeting, she was overwhelmed and a bit intimidated by his parents’ Great Dane. But after getting to spend time together, they have become great friends! Jill has decided the Dane’s orthopedic bed is her own! And they love to play together in the yard. On top of this, last week Jill accompanied Paul to his office out of the house, and she was a gem the whole trip. Great job Jillybean!”

Paul’s homework is to work hard on having Jill “come” when called. He will start by calling her while sitting on the floor, then his knees, then sitting on the couch, then standing. Hopefully, with this slow change, she will begin to see she can trust him not to hurt her. She loves to snuggle with him so I know she loves her knew dad, she is just too nervous because of past experiences.”

Wounded Warrior Krisia and her SDIT, Corgi “Bear”

From our trainer, Emmett, who had his fourth session with Wounded Warrior Krisia and her SDIT, Corgi “Bear”! Krisia suffers from severe anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder, and fibromyalgia.

Emmett writes:

“Today, at Target, we worked on reinforcing Bear’s” sit/stay” and “down/stay”, as well as introducing Bear to blocking Krisia with “covers”. Krisia can become very anxious or pained (fibromyalgia) if strangers get too close to her. We are working on having Bear block (cover) on command in front of Krisia as well as behind her.

We also worked on having Bear heel through tight quarters, as well as having him do controlled meet and greets by several strangers. We also had two different willing strangers hold Bear’s leash while Krisia walked off in preparation for the Public Access Test.

Since our last session, Bear has improved tremendously!! He used to be a bit distracted in new environments, and would slide into a “down” when asked to sit and stay. He now (80% of the time) will stay in an upright, seated position when asked for a “sit/stay” which is HUGE progress. He also accepts treats much more politely now that Krisia has been working with him on that.

So far Krisia and Bear are doing wonderfully! They will be working on Bear’s “cover” while Krisia is visiting family in Puerto Rico.

Wounded Warrior, Thomas and his SDIT, Samanatha

From our wonderful trainer, Cherry, who met with Wounded Warrior, Thomas and his SDIT, Samanatha. Thomas suffers from Migraines, syncope, seizures, PTSD, anxiety, and severe depression.

Cherry writes:

“This story may touch your heart. I had a wonderful assessment with Thomas and his SDIT Samantha. Thomas and his family chose sweet Samantha from the pound with the intent of her being a Service Dog for him. She was super cute, so they adopted her and took her home. Not long afterward, they discovered sweet Samantha is DEAF! Not wanting to give up on their sweet baby like some do, Thomas decided he would teach her sign language; and so far she has learned Sit and Come by sign alone!!

Samantha heeled well in PetSmart, ignoring most distractions – even the cats! She has an amazing bond with Thomas, so I know this team will do well!

Thomas’ homework was to continue having Samantha heel, performing “watch me”, and practicing “cover”. He will also keep on practicing the sits and stays.

I am going away to visit my family in Europe for a few weeks, but Thomas has great support from trainer Letty, who will be there if he needs her. Letty is proficient in sign language, and has her own deaf Service Dog. Thomas was super excited to start training. What a wonderful person to want to continue working with Samantha even after he discovered she was deaf! A war veteran with a huge heart, what could be better? :)”