PTSD Service Animals: Trained to Save Lives

Did you know that service animals can be specially trained to help those suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder? PTSD service animals are invaluable for the help they give first responders and veterans when struggling. These dogs provide critical support in returning to civilian life, and their presence can make all the difference.


Service animals are not just a luxury; they’re medically necessary for many people. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) defines a service animal as “any dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability.” This can include everything from providing assistance with mobility to alerting their human to an oncoming seizure.

What are Service Dogs Trained to do?

Service dogs are trained to provide a wide variety of services to their handlers. While the specific duties of each dog will be tailored to the needs of their handler, there are some common tasks that PTSD service dogs are often trained to perform. These include:

  • Providing physical support and stability for their handler

  • Helping with anxiety and panic attacks

  • Waking their handler from nightmares

  • Reminding the handler to take medication or perform other daily tasks

  • Providing emotional support and companionship

These are just a few of the many ways that PTSD service dogs can help their handlers live more comfortable, independent lives. For people with PTSD, these dogs can be literal lifesavers.

Dogs can also be trained to help owners remain calm in high-stress situations. When an owner experiences a flashback or dissociative episode, the dog will provide calming pressure and support. This can prevent injuries or even death caused by episodes of rage or self-harm. Dogs can provide many important services to those living with PTSD. These dogs are specially trained and can help their partners remain safe, calm, and healthy.


Dogs can also help their partners with nightmares. Many people with PTSD have difficulty sleeping due to nightmares. Therapy dogs can be trained to wake their partners up from a nightmare by licking their face or pawing at them. Therapy dogs can also help their partners feel safe in public places. Many people with PTSD avoid going out in public due to the fear of having a panic attack. Dogs can help their partners feel safe by providing them with a sense of security and companionship. Therapy dogs are also trained to provide physical contact when needed. People with PTSD often experience a lot of stress and anxiety. Physical touch can help reduce these feelings and promote relaxation. Therapy dogs can be trained to provide their partners with gentle hugs, kisses, and cuddles.


Service animals are not just for people with physical disabilities; they can be life-savers for those suffering from mental health issues as well. For example, therapy dogs can help prevent future substance abuse in individuals who suffer from PTSD. Having emotional support is crucial for people suffering from mental health issues like PTSD, and while this aid can come from fellow humans, having the unconditional love and assistance of a trained service dog can keep emotional issues at bay. In addition, service dogs can help thwart drug or alcohol dependencies that some people may turn to as a way of coping.


What types of Tasks can they do?


PTSD service dogs can be trained to do a variety of tasks to help their handlers. Some of the most common tasks include alerting the handler to danger, reminding the handler to take medication, and providing physical support.


Alert Tasks

This is one of the main types of tasks for a PTSD service dog. The animal can be trained to alert the handler or another party according to the handler’s needs. A

This is one of the main types of tasks for a PTSD service dog. The animal can be trained to alert the handler or another party according to the handler’s needs. For example, if the handler has a panic attack, the dog might bark or paw at them until they come out of it. If the handler suffers from night terrors, the dog might wake them up by nudging or licking their face.


Movement Tasks

Another way service dogs can help a person with PTSD is through movement tasks. Service dogs can help their owner get up and move around, which can help reduce feelings of isolation and depression. Additionally, regular exercise has been shown to be beneficial for people with PTSD. Having a service dog encourages people to stay active, which in turn helps improve their overall mental and physical health. Finally, service dogs can also provide a sense of security when going out in public. For many people with PTSD, the thought of leaving the house can be overwhelming. Having a loyal companion by their side can make all the difference.


Guide Tasks

Guide tasks there are several guide tasks service dogs are trained to perform for. These tasks can include opening and closing doors, retrieving items from shelves, turning on lights, and more. Having a dog that can help with these everyday tasks can make life much easier for someone with PTSD. Not only does this allow them to complete tasks they may otherwise struggle with, but it also gives them a sense of independence and self-reliance.





What is the difference between a service dog and an emotional support dog?

A service dog is a licensed, trained animal that performs certain tasks for an individual with a disability. Emotional support animals are not required to be licensed or trained and provide companionship and emotional support for their owners.

Service dogs can perform a variety of tasks, such as providing assistance with mobility, helping with medical conditions like diabetes or epilepsy, or acting as a warning signal for seizures. They are highly-trained animals and must pass a rigorous test in order to be certified.


Emotional support dogs provide comfort and companionship to their owners and do not have the same level of training as service dogs. They are not required to wear any identifying markers or equipment, such as a vest or harness, and are not covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Some people may confuse service dogs with emotional support animals because they both provide comfort and companionship. However, it is important to understand the difference between these two types of animals in order to ensure that you are getting the right type of assistance for your needs. If you are in need of a service dog, it is important to find a reputable training organization that can provide you with the necessary certification and support. If you are considering getting an emotional support animal, be sure to speak with your doctor or therapist about what type of assistance would be best for you. There are many benefits to having an emotional support animal, but it is important to make sure that you are getting the right type of animal for your needs.

Resources

  • Service Dogs for America trains PTSD service dogs, and has strict criteria for both the dogs and trainers who raise them.

  • Paws for Veterans matches war veterans with PTSD service dogs, and then trains both parties on how to work together as effective, cooperative teammates.

  • Dog Wish trains all kinds of service dogs for people of all walks of life. One of the founders of this organization understands the value of dogs in managing PTSD from having personal experience with the condition.

  • New Horizons Service Dogs provides PTSD service dogs to retired servicemen and servicewomen, as well as others suffering from PTSD

 
At Chateau Recovery we see the power that service animals can provide. On a day-to-day basis, we work with animals to see the healing power they have for those struggling with PTS, depression, anxiety, and substance abuse. Our clinical belief is that by joining with our service animals we can help overcome the struggles that we have experienced in our life. Our staff is standing by waiting for your call. If you or a loved one is struggling with PTS our admissions team is standing by. (435) 222-5225