Do Service Dogs Help to Reduce Symptoms of PTSD?

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Man’s best friend has really made their way into the everyday environment. People bring their furry companions into supermarkets, coffee shops, and even on airplanes. There are dog parks spread out across the country to accommodate the playtime that dogs need in their daily routine. You may see the sections in Target and Walmart that sell clothes for canines including Halloween costumes. Most people that own a dog think of these pets like a four-legged family member. One of the main reasons that dogs have become catered to in the last decade to is because they offer comfort to people when they are in distress.

Service animals have been used for over a century starting around World War I that helped to care for veterans. German Shepherds were the first dogs that were used as guide dogs although Labradors and Golden Retrievers have become just as common. Assistance dogs are specifically trained to help people who have disabilities including the visually impaired, the hearing impaired, the mobility impaired, persons that experience seizures, are diabetic, and have mental health disorders such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Dogs have shown to be great companions to human beings because they exude unconditional love and compassion while bringing fun to help reduce stress. Dogs need to be outside which will in return make someone get outdoors where they are able to be in the company of other people. There are lots of advantages to having a service dog specifically with an individual that has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. Someone that suffers from PTSD can feel more comforted from a dog for all the obvious reasons that have been listed, but a dog that is trained to take commands can prove to be helpful to someone that was once in the military.  

Even though dogs cannot be a substituted for effective PTSD treatment such as cognitive therapy or medication, there are organizations, such as K9 Warriors, that have seen the changes that take place in veterans that have PTSD. They have seen suicide rates in veterans go down ever so slightly due to the companionship they share with their dogs. Having their dog wake them up from their nightmares and keeping space between their owners and another person has helped appease the fears that are associated with PTSD. Dogs have shown to be a benefit to people that need some help in soothing the feelings associated with post-traumatic stress disorder.  

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