Post Traumatic Stress Disorders, or short, PTSD Service Dogs are some of the most unique and skilled service dogs there are. PTSD is one of the most complex disorders I train dogs for. I make this statement with confidence, because, I have PTSD myself. Finding a dog that meets all criteria to become a PTSD dog is difficult. The dog must be 100% dependable in many important aspects. It must be able to think on its own, and process situations independently without guidance. For this reason, the training process is quite complex, but it’s well worth the effort. The comfort PTSD Service Dogs provide to their handlers is invaluable.
In order to find the right dog for this work, a service dog trainer must know what exactly to look for behaviorally. It is not possible to simply pick an emotional support animal (ESA) or a generic service dog, or even just select from a picture and expect to be successful. A PTSD Service Dog candidate must be thoroughly vetted, for, in the end, many dogs end up not working out. Some dogs will be able to work a year or so and then wash out. Proper upfront testing is imperative to increase the chances of a PTSD Service Dog being able to work for many years to come. Due to the nature of the work, it is essential to evaluate how the dog processes things. Too many trainers ignore this vital step.
PTSD Service Dog Breed Considerations
This brings me to the next point. What breeds can be used as PTSD Service Dogs? Many! Size and breed decisions must be based on tasks. For example, a smaller dog would have problems with providing crowd control, deep pressure therapy, or leading the handler to the closest exit.
PTSD Service Dog Task Examples
- Circling (for crowd control) to create more space for the handler.
- “Watching your Six” and alerting to people approaching from behind.
- Medication retrieval.
- Deep Pressure Therapy