How Our PTSD Service Dogs Help
Our PTSD service dogs have already shown to be effective in assisting PTSD sufferers by:
A PTSD service dog detects when people are stressed or anxious, e.g., they hear labored breathing. Then, the dogs interrupt the increasing anxiety by distracting the person, offering comfort by hugging them (jumping with two or four paws), and licking the person’s face. When the dogs realize their partners are having a nightmare, flashback, or panic attack, they are trained to disrupt the episode and offer comfort.
Waking Up to a Better Future
People who suffer from PTSD dread reliving their experiences through nightmares. Because of this they fear going to sleep – and literally a fear of their bedroom – causing a downward spiral. Consequently this results in a lack of sleep that can create ever-deepening depression.
We have already seen dramatic results. Most significantly, we find when someone suffering from PTSD knows they can rely on a four-legged best friend to consistently stop the nightmares, the frequency and intensity of the nightmares steadily decline. This leads to better sleep—and thus reduced depression and anxiety. We do not know if nightmares will permanently cease (our study periods have not been long enough yet), but we have already seen beneficial results.
Eyes In the Back of Your Head
We train a PTSD service dog in the “Watch” command—to watch his partner’s back by sitting next to him and facing the other direction. Acting on this command, the dog creates the feeling of “eyes in the back of the partner’s head” to detect if someone or something is approaching from behind. We also train our dogs in the “Block” command—to stand between their partner and another person or object to create space – a safety zone – around the partner. As a result of gaining this safe space, a person with PTSD becomes calmer in crowded public areas – reducing anxiety and averting a potential panic attack.
Traning PTSD Service Dogs in Israel
Training service dogs to help individuals with PTSD requires in-depth knowledge and skills—for both trainer and dog. PTSD service dogs must be perceptive, obedient and intuitive so they can help our clients when they face a crisis. Israel Guide Dog Center’s training team works to identify and evaluate the best dogs for this role, and we train them to recognize and interrupt PTSD behaviors. Our trainers pick the right dog for the right person in order to create a successful Partnership.
Having PTSD service dogs in Israel is relatively new, and we are one of the few organizations providing this service. Emotional Support page
PTSD Service Dogs: Partners in Caring
Clients with PTSD must care for their service dogs. They must get up and take the dog out, feed and groom the dog, and take care of their canine partner’s health and socialization needs. These responsibilities give clients a renewed sense of purpose, forcing them to get out of bed every morning and out of the house every day, creating a positive routine. This all results in improving clients’ self-image while reducing depression and isolation.
What Our Clients Say
“The Israel guide dog center has not just given me a dog. They’ve given me the gift of life.” ~GR
“My PTSD dog has taken a great burden from my family—and me. Whether I am at home or I go outside, they know my new best friend is there to comfort me.” ~ YP