A PTSD service dog is one that’s been trained specifically for someone with the disorder. These dogs can be trained to help anyone, including veterans and civilians, by walking in front of or behind the person in public. This simple act, Davis said, can provide a person with the sense of security they need to be comfortable in a situation.
“One of the fears of people with PTSD is the unknown — What’s around the next corner? What’s in the dark? — and having the dog with them provides them a sense of comfort, because they can read the dog in order to read a situation,” Davis said.
PTSD dogs can also be trained to recognize when a person with the disorder is having difficulty handling a certain situation. Places with loud, sudden noises, blinking lights or crowds can trigger emotional reactions in PTSD sufferers, Davis said. Having a PTSD service dog on hand will prevent the person from entering a trigger situation or allow them to focus their minds on something else.
Additionally, some agencies will train PTSD service dogs to “block” or “follow” a person. Some PTSD suffers, especially veterans who have been in combat, are uncomfortable in lines with people standing closely in front of or behind them. A dog trained to block or follow will stand in front of or behind their owners, creating more physical space between them and the people around them, Davis said. This is also helpful to veterans with hearing-related injuries that are fearful of what’s behind them.
It’s common for people with PTSD to find themselves feeling distant from loved ones and their environment. Having a dog by their side can help boost their morale and bring them back into their relationships and society, Davis said. When trained with positive reinforcement and used properly, these dogs can easily work for up to 12 years without any adverse physical or emotional side effects, she said.
TBBF has currently placed 3 ‘battle buddy’ service dogs with disabled veterans, one puppy entering the program THIS WEEKEND, and we have another 6 puppies preparing to begin their training and placement with their veterans in the next couple months!! TBBF will continue our work to serve our nation’s heroes, and with your support, we will continue our work to expand our resources to provide service dogs for veterans, and continue to support our veterans by providing the necessary resources to assist with the reintegration back into the civilian world.