Posted on Jul 9, 2015
SSgt Airman
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I was curious about the community's opinion on the overall effectiveness of a service dog for PTSD. I personally have a dog he is not trained to be a service dog but have found him to be useful in dealing with my PTSD. I have been considering seeing if there is special training I can put him through for further benefit or even investing in a trained dog. It would be nice to hear from anyone who has encountered one and can put some perspective on the topic.
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LTC John Shaw
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Edited 7 y ago
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SSgt (Join to see) I don't have a service dog, just a hound from the pound. My dog Luke is a 80 lbs Shephard/Husky mix. ('Shepusky' is that a breed, probably not!)
I have found he makes sure I wake up at 6 am, we walk together and eat breakfast and dinner almost every day. This means I walk at least 1.5-2.0 miles, sometimes twice or three times a day.
So in short: 1) helps daily scheduling of sleep/wake time, 2) exercise each day, 3) I eat less, because he always wants my food.
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SSgt Airman
SSgt (Join to see)
7 y
That is great. LTC John G Shaw MBA, JD I have experienced simular benefits with my dog Bud Sometimes I think he can tell my state of mind and seems to know what to do to help me return to "normal"
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PO3 Nichalas Enser
PO3 Nichalas Enser
7 y
For those who need them, actual service animals can be irreplaceable- that goes for most folks with 'hounds from the pound', too!
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CW3 TheSnakepilot .A
CW3 TheSnakepilot .A
5 y
I have a cat that had done wonders for helping to control my PTSD to some extent. The funny thing is I never liked cats until I reached my 60s. Go figure.
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Sgt Mathew Meyer
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While working a veterans job fair at the St. Paul XCel center for ESGR earlier this year I met a veteran who had severe PTSD. He had a great dane with him that he trained and certified as a service dog. The dog was attached to a belt around the vets waist and when he would have an anxiety attack, the dog would physically pull him to a quiet area and pin him against the wall/corner to calm him down until the attack passed. Apparently the veteran was in the process of training a few other great danes for the same purpose. Unfortunately I do not have his name/contact info.
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PFC David Gettman
PFC David Gettman
5 y
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I also had a Great Dane and I miss him a lot. He wasn't trained, but he was my guardian. On walks, he would constantly be going out ahead to check the route and returning to check on me. Inside my house, he always gave a low growl to alert me of anyone's presence and only barked if they got too close or looked threatening. It was always a calming effect to have him near.

I've had dogs all my life but got tired of outliving these wonderful companions, so haven't had another dog since Trouble was put down 9/11/11.
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PO3 Nichalas Enser
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You are not alone, SSgt (Join to see) . Have heard great stories from folks with a wide variety of ailments, in fact. Not only dogs... but cats, to a certain extent, too.

One thing that is tough is that 'emotional-support animals' are not afforded the legal access of full-blown 'service animals', where a trained service animal, who alerts for seizures, helps guide those with sight impairments, et cetera is allowed to travel anywhere with their handler (with very few exceptions).

Emotional support animals *may* be granted access to some places, with a letter from a licensed psychiatrist or clinical socialworker - however, there are few actual rights.

Although the VA does not offer service dogs for those with PTSD as a stand-alone ailment, research is underway (and it looks promising!). If folks have co-ailments, such as blindness or other physical issues, and is deemed medically-nececary, the VA will provide for the healthcare of the service animal, but they do not provide them (yet). See http://www.ptsd.va.gov/public/treatment/cope/dogs_and_ptsd.asp

For more background, see:
http://www.elementsbehavioralhealth.com/trauma-ptsd/animal-therapy-ptsd-treatment/
http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/how-dogs-can-help-veterans-overcome-ptsd-137582968/
https://www.ptsdnews.com/purdue-researchers-study-impact-of-service-dogs-on-ptsd/171/

Some interesting studies pair service members with PTSD with military canines who also exhibit signs of PTSD (yes, it is possible for animals to have PTSD, too). There have been some intriguing stories about this, such as: http://www.vancouversun.com/health/Iraq+veteran+combat+helping+each+other+heal+from+PTSD+needs/11194663/story.html

Best of luck to you, and to all of our brothers and sisters who are moving through any type of stress disorder!

----- -----

For too long, we ignored the facts about PTSD and things are changing. Thankfully, there is help available.

If *anyone* encounters situations that they cannot explain, after returning, or has thoughts of self-harm, for the love of all things, PLEASE, reach out to your family/friends, the VA, your nearest base, religious group, local mental health professional, or even here, at RP. Surely we will do what we can to help!

24/7 help via [login to see] or 911
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SSgt Airman
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7 y
This was an amazing and informational response thank you for your time P03 Nicholas Enser.
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PFC Sandra Wade
PFC Sandra Wade
4 y
Yet, various symptoms of PTSD can be assisted by a " Service Dog" They are recognized as service dogs and not emotional support dogs. Service Dog must provide a service. Reminder medications., Respond to nightmares. Waves of Depression response. Yet, very few free or help with training out there. Some programs aval. yet veteran is in many cases requested to pay 50% can be 15,000.
I would be interested to know if training is out there to assist with training a dog for PTSD. Say, you get a dog and train with that dog.
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