What Do PTSD Service Dogs Do? Here’s Everything You Need to Know

Are you still having a tough time finding the answer to the question “what do PTSD service dogs do?” Then you’re on the right track. Here’s a quick guide on everything you need to know about what these specialized service dogs do every day.

PTSD service dogs are some of the most dedicated animals on the planet. First, they take on technical yet straightforward tasks and assignments. Second, these animals make their owners’ lives comfortable and safe. Make sure you follow along to learn more about these highly-trained service dogs.

A Quick Walkthrough on What Do PTSD Service Dogs Do

PTSD what do ptsd service dogs do

Getting a PTSD service dog is one of the best decisions you will ever make if you have PTSD. Besides helping you deal with possible triggers that can become episodes, this animal assists in various scenarios. It’s like having a personal mental health support coach in dog form.

Persons who have PTSD will likely have difficulty dealing with some life situations. It could be having the feeling of being trapped in a crowded place. Or it could be suddenly freezing up when a specific event takes place. These are the reasons why having a PTSD service dog will be a life-changing experience.

However, there are crucial things we need to learn first before moving on to what do PTSD service dogs do. We need to understand what PTSD is first to thoroughly appreciate the benefits of having a PTSD service dog.

What is PTSD?

PTSD stands for “Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.” It is a mental condition brought about by highly stressful and traumatic events. These events include exposure to constant physical abuse and high levels of brutality. 

Individuals who have gone through a near-death experience may also develop PTSD. It can also be due to witnessing the violent death of a loved one or being the victim of sexual assault. Some people exposed to combat violence, like military personnel, are potentially at risk of this condition.

A significant effect of PTSD on a person is making them “replay” a particularly traumatic life event over and over. These replays usually come in nightmares and flashbacks. This effect could be stimulated by specific “triggers” long after the said event transpired.

Besides experiencing sudden and extreme mood changes, persons who have PTSD also have trouble controlling their emotions. They can feel angry one minute and then sad or afraid the next. And what’s even worse is that they don’t have the slightest clue why this is happening.

These effects tend to hamper the daily activities of persons who have PTSD. They can even prevent people living with PTSD from taking care of themselves properly. This hampering of everyday life is the biggest reason why having a PTSD service dog is a must if you have this mental condition.

What is a PTSD service dog?

A PTSD service dog is an animal trained to help take care of a person with PTSD. It is more than just a pet, unlike what many people mistakenly think. It went through training on how to make a person afflicted with this condition live more comfortably in a healthy manner.

Besides being trained to deal with emergencies, a PTSD service dog went on training to take on particular tasks and assignments. A typical technical skill these animals are acquainted with is “reminding” their owners to take their daily or nightly medicines. They also know how to “detect” potential triggers so their owners will not risk exposure.

What are the common PTSD service dog breeds?

The most common breeds of PTSD service dogs include the German Shepherd, the Golden Retriever, and the Labrador Retriever. However, this job is not exclusive to large and medium-sized working dog breeds. 

Smaller dogs like the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, the Border Collie, and the Pomeranian are also popular choices for a PTSD service dog. You can even get a Yorkshire Terrier, a Poodle, or a Pug as one, too. 

However, it is crucial to remember that your choice of a PTSD service dog dramatically depends on your needs. You should stick to large and medium breeds if you need assistance in mobility. This choice depends on whether you use a wheelchair or other mobility support device. On the other hand, go for a smaller breed if you don’t have a problem getting around.

How do you get a PTSD dog?

You have to obtain a letter from a duly-licensed and qualified mental healthcare professional to get a PTSD service dog. This letter is considered the most critical piece of documentation you will ever need to legally and ethically acquire one.

The letter essentially informs others that you have PTSD. It also confirms that you require a PTSD service dog to assist you in your daily needs. These needs can cover anything from getting access to your medications to safely moving from one place to another.

The letter issued by the mental healthcare professional also lists the specific assistance that you require. This document is to help you select an appropriately trained service dog that will suit your needs.

What qualifies you to be entitled to a PTSD service dog?

Two essential qualifications make you entitled to a PTSD service dog. First, you should have PTSD and be treated currently or treated for the condition. Second, the effects of PTSD are impeding your ability to do specific necessary tasks in daily life.

You must coordinate with your duly licensed and qualified mental healthcare professional on this. Your psychologist, psychiatrist, clinical social workers, or primary physicians can be this. You can ask about getting a PTSD service dog in your next consultation.

The process of securing a PTSD service dog can be long. However, the whole waiting game will be worth it. Your life will never be the same with this animal by your side.

What do PTSD service dogs do?

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A PTSD service dog is a highly-trained animal that can take on individual tasks and assignments. Compared to emotional support animals or ESAs primarily for companionship, these dogs have specific jobs. They alert people during emergencies. Here are just some of the responsibilities that these animals typically take care of:

  • PTSD service dogs are emergency respondents.

Perhaps the most important job a PTSD service dog has on its checklist is alerting others during emergencies. These could be their owner’s family members, friends, neighbors, and even emergency medical personnel. 

Interestingly, PTSD service dogs can even dial 911 using unique dog-friendly phones. This 911-dialing skill needs additional prior setup from their owners, though. They also perform specific tasks like clearing spaces from sharp objects during emergencies. This clearing task is to prevent any more possible risks.

  • PTSD service dogs guide their owners away from possible triggers.

A PTSD service dog usually knows which places and things to keep clear of when moving around. This skill helps a lot when a person with PTSD gets around from one place to another. These places and things may trigger flashbacks and severe panic attacks on their owners.

The service dog usually learns these possible triggers during training. And to make things even more impressive, it may also avoid certain smells and tastes. You can think of a PTSD service dog as a navigator because of this attribute.

  • These dogs assist in the mobility of their owners.

Several individuals who have PTSD may have mobility issues. They may be using a wheelchair, a cane, or some other device that helps them get around. Besides actually pushing wheelchairs, trainers can also train PTSD dogs to clear obstacles along the way.

Moreover, a PTSD service dog can detect particular smells that trigger its owner. They notify their owners about the same immediately to keep clear of it. This expertise is also valuable in specific emergencies like fire.

  • A PTSD dog “disrupts” a potential attack by creating a distraction.

A person with PTSD is often vulnerable to flashbacks and other manifestations of this debilitating mental condition. A service dog can identify possible signs when these would possibly occur. This skill can create a distraction to prevent the flashback and similar PTSD manifestation from becoming full-blown. A full-blown episode can be pretty tough to control at times.

One of these “distractions” is by hugging the owner. Another is by gently pulling the owner’s pant leg or dress hem. This distraction makes the person shift their attention to cancel out the PTSD manifestation. The sudden sensory overload breaks off the onset of the PTSD manifestation.

  • They know how to remind their owners to perform specific actions.

A fantastic skill taught to PTSD service dogs is “reminding” their owners to perform specific actions at a particular time. This skill can range anywhere from taking medications to doing exercises. This mastery takes a lot of training. It takes months to make a service dog master this skill.

Moreover, PTSD service dogs know how to clear things away when their owners get around the house. This “clearing strategy” is to give them ample space to move. Having hard or sharp things everywhere can be potential hazards during flashbacks or severe panic attacks. On the other hand, this prevents other risks during an emergency.

  • PTSD dogs provide lots of love and care.  

PTSD service dogs are also very loving and compassionate akin to their ESA counterparts. They give lots of hugs. They also won’t hesitate to share their owners’ numerous paw pats and kisses to make them feel loved and needed. 

A PTSD service dog typically “hugs” its owner when triggers are around to break off any possibility of flashbacks. This fact is applicable for other related manifestations of this mental condition. Most PTSD service dogs are adorable. Some of them are firm but still very compassionate.

How do you take care of a PTSD dog?

There is one crucial thing to remember when taking care of a PTSD service dog. It would be best to remember that they require a commitment to be taken care of properly. This pointer is crucial because having a PTSD service dog is a two-way relationship. 

Having a PTSD service dog is entirely different from having a simple pet. This animal serves as your partner in daily life. It will constantly assist so your everyday life will be as comfortable as possible. You’d have to stay committed if you’re looking to get a PTSD service dog soon.

Make it a point to schedule regular visits to the vet. Always find time to give your PTSD service dog lots of exercise. Be sure you only feed it nutritious stuff. Always make your service dog feel loved and cared for. It will be able to perform its duties properly this way.

Can you bring along a PTSD dog to public places?

A PTSD service dog is allowed to accompany you in most public places. However, keep in mind to first check in on the venue you’re going to visit to avoid awkward situations. You can give the establishment a call to clarify things. Another way to do this is by browsing a particular venue’s website for details.

It would help if you kept your PTSD service dog leashed or in a harness in public. This leashing or harnessing is to prevent any unnecessary wandering. Suddenly discovering that your service dog is gone can also trigger some individuals with PTSD. Moreover, some individuals may not be that excited to be around dogs, too, so it pays to be extra sure. 

Can you travel with a PTSD dog?

One of the biggest perks of having a PTSD service dog is that you can practically travel anywhere with it. However, there are specific guidelines that you need to remember so you can fully maximize this perk. 

Besides ensuring that your PTSD service dog has a prepared go-bag, you also need to bring other necessities to make your trips as fun and hassle-free as possible. Only travel when everything is ready. You can click here to check out what you need to have on your checklist when traveling with a large service dog.


What Do PTSD Service Dogs Do? Here’s Everything You Need to Know

by Francis SEO time to read: 8 min