Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) has been an issue for people of all ages and in all cultures. It has come into the limelight more recently due to the number of veterans returning from military service with PTSD. Some people show only one or two symptoms and others have many, but they can vary from panic attacks, social phobias, sleep disorders, agoraphobia, mood swings, depression, hypervigilance, and many other symptoms. Pets, in general, can be very good for people who suffer from PTSD. For people who have been diagnosed with severe issues, it is possible to acquire a dog with specific training to assist the person with individual issues.
Some tasks that are commonly performed by PTSD service dogs include:
- Waking owners from nightmares and comforting them
- Aiding the owner in getting out of bed during a depressive state
- Interrupting the owner if they see certain behaviors such as rocking or self-harm
- Calming the owner during a panic attack by nuzzling or laying head or body across the owner’s chest or lap
- Aiding the owner with perimeter checks for intruders or safety issues, applying body pressure against the owner’s while moving through crowds, and more
There are many breeds that can serve as PTSD dogs and this includes mixed breeds. When searching for a mixed breed or a purebred, though, it can be helpful to know which breeds have been often used as PTSD service dogs.
This list is not exhaustive but is to be used as a starting point.
Very intelligent, easily trainable, and eager to please. These dogs are good with other dogs and other humans, but can still be trained to remain somewhat aloof with strangers or when on duty. The standard size is ideal among the poodle types since these larger dogs are generally calmer and more reliable than their smaller cousins.
Pros: Friendly, generally calm, and eager to please. These dogs do love to play and can be helpful in getting a depressive person out of this state, but most well-trained adult “Goldens” do well when they need to be settled.
Labs have many of the same traits as the Goldens, but adults tend to have a longer attention span. This can be a plus if the dog will often be in places where there are many other dogs and distractions.
Shepherds are usually obedient and very loyal. They are excellent for a person who needs a dog to be vigilant without being overly aggressive. Shepherds are especially good with children, so adult dogs are good for children with PTSD or adults who have children. It is important to check the parents and the bloodlines since some Shepherds come from lines that have more aggressive tendencies than others.
For people who need a smaller, dog, this breed can be amazing. They have a cheerful personality and show a lot of affection. They are also good with children and adults. They enjoy playing but are usually easy to train.
This is another possible choice for PTSD sufferers who live in a smaller space or just prefer a small dog. These dogs are very loyal and somewhat wary of strangers, so for someone who needs to feel extra security, these dogs can be good choices. They are a lot of fun and make good companions for people who live alone and need company.