PTSD dogs are service dogs that are specifically trained to help their owner deal with the symptoms of their PTSD. PTSD dogs can be bought from certified service trainers. Their training includes:
- Learning to recognize and disrupt repetitive and harmful behavior.
- Learning to fetch items for their handler.
- Learning to guide their handler away from stressful situations.
- Learning to remind their handler to take their medication.
They can be very useful for veterans suffering from PTSD as a result of traumatic combat experiences. PTSD dogs can reduce the anxiety of being out in public spaces by preventing people from crowding or rushing up behind their handler, which can sometimes trigger panic attacks in PTSD patients. Having the dog also forces the owner to leave the confines of their living quarters, provides companionship and emotional support, and reduces tension and paranoia. However, there is limited research on the effects that having a dog has on PTSD and there is no conclusive evidence that the companionship a dog provides helps relieve the symptoms of PTSD. In fact, if PTSD dogs are used a crutch they can sometimes hinder the recovery of the patient. PTSD patients that become too reliant on PTSD dogs may not be afforded the opportunity to confront and overcome situations that cause them discomfort. Thus far evidence-based treatment has been shown to be the most effective way of treating PTSD.