Dogs for PTSD? Yes - read about how it works and our involvement!

War. Car accidents. Shootings. Assaults. Just watch the nightly news for a few minutes and you will see that traumatic events are happening every day. In real life, trauma does not necessarily go away as soon as the traumatic event is over. According to the American Psychiatric Association (source), 1 in 11 people in the US will suffer from PTSD at some point in their lifetime. Dogs for PTSD are trained to help make the day brighter and safer for sufferers of PTSD.

What Is PTSD?

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a psychological disorder that occurs in people who have experienced or witnessed traumatic events. Despite the heavy emphasis on military veterans who suffer from PTSD, anyone can develop it. Women are more likely to develop it than men. Events that can result in PTSD range from wartime event to rapes to shootings to domestic violence and more. PTSD can diminish over time or it can last a lifetime.  

What Do People Suffering From PTSD Experience?

No two traumatic events are exactly alike, and neither are the experiences of those who suffer from PTSD. PTSD can have very minimal effects on someone’s everyday life or be very disruptive. However, there are some common types of experiences that PTSD sufferers share:

  • Flashbacks
    A flashback is when someone who has experienced a traumatic event, feels that they are reliving it again. These come in the form of nightmares or involuntary memories. 
  • Depression
    Depression is more than just sadness. It is feelings of guilt, shame, unhappiness and more. The world may feel like a place that is very untrustworthy and dangerous. People suffering from depression can lose interest in things they once loved. 
  • Hyperarousal
    Hyperarousal is a strong feeling of nervousness and anxiety. It can feel like something very dangerous is about to happen even when there is no evidence supporting that feeling. 
  • Avoiding Triggers
    Would you want to be around things that remind you of your past traumas? Neither do people with PTSD. They will find ways to avoid anything that can bring back painful memories. 

How Can Dogs for PTSD Help Their Owners?

Treatments exist for PTSD including medications, therapies, and dogs for PTSD. Dogs for PTSD are specially trained to help with whatever specific symptoms their handler may suffer from. Some of the things that dogs for PTSD are trained to do include:

  • Interrupting
    When a sufferer of PTSD is experiencing a nightmare, panic attack, or trying to self-harm, dogs for PTSD are trained to stop them in their tracks. Sometimes they do this by laying on their handler, licking their face, or engaging them in play.
  • Alerting
    Alerting is one of the main tasks of a service dog. They can alert another party to the fact that something is happening with their handler or let their handler know when it is time to take medication. 
  • Guiding
    When you suffer from PTSD, some seemingly normal situations can become very confusing. Service dogs are trained to guide their handler out of triggering situations and help them find their way out of crowds during panic attacks. 
  • Calling
    Emergency help is sometimes needed. Service dogs are often trained to call 9-1-1 or other emergency numbers that are programmed into a dog-friendly phone. 
  • Movement
    The unknown is a very scary thing. Service dogs are trained to help their handler know if someone is approaching them from behind, if there is anything lurking in a dark or unfamiliar room, or to create a barrier between the handler and crowds of people. 

How To Help Dogs That Help With PTSD

What can you do to help dogs for PTSD to do their jobs? Be courteous and do not pet them unless their handler says that it is okay. Approach them from the front if possible and try to say something if you must approach from the back so they know you are coming. 

Do you have a dog for PTSD? Your dog’s hearing is super important and them staying calm is vital. Try CrittEar dog earplugs. They help reduce harmful loud noises and keep water out of their ear canals. Dog earplugs can help your dog with noise anxiety from fireworks, thunderstorms, loud music, and so much more! You want your day to be as bright as possible so treat your dog to a bright day as well.

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