Many Veterans suffer disabilities and challenges when returning to everyday civilian life. PTSD is just one issue that can impact a Veteran’s life at work and at home.  Fortunately, there is hope with the assistance of a service dog for PTSD.

A study in the National Library of Medicine found that 500,000 U.S. troops received a Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder diagnosis in the past 13 years. So if you've been diagnosed with PTSD, you're far from alone.

PTSD-trained service dogs don’t just empower everyday life and create more independence. Their benefits could be life-saving. Research shows that Veterans paired with service dogs see a reduction in their PTSD symptoms. They also exhibit fewer symptoms of suicidal behaviors and ideation.

1. Determine Your Eligibility

If you’re a Veteran, schedule an appointment with a healthcare provider. Come prepared to discuss your symptoms and ask about eligibility to receive a service dog for PTSD. Ask if they already work with organizations that train and provide service animals.

Getting a prescription from a healthcare professional for a service dog is helpful for workplace modifications. But, it's unnecessary when accessing public spaces, airplanes, and businesses.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, someone with a service animal does not need to offer proof that an animal has certification, training, or a license as a service animal to enter.

2. Identify Your Needs 

Service dogs for PTSD are trained to fit your specific needs.

For example, they can assist with balance due to limb loss or other injuries. They also help ensure safety and get help during seizures for a medical emergency. These dogs are also experts at navigation to compensate for their owners’ vision or hearing loss.

Psychiatric dogs can also sense when their owners are in trouble. They keep you calm and offer assistance when sensing an anxiety attack, flashback, or other symptoms associated with PTSD.

Yet, service animals aren’t just for emergencies. Everyday tasks are also more manageable. Your pup can be trained to open and close doors or retrieve an item, such as a prosthetic.

It’s important to understand the difference between service dogs and other forms of assistance dogs.

If you’re eligible for a service dog, it means you need your service dog with you at all times. So if you’re looking to get a service dog but wouldn’t want to take them to work, a restaurant, the grocery store, the movie theater, or other common places, you likely need a different form of assistance dog. 

Determine your eligibility and requirements before you get a service dog for PTSD.

3. Consider the Costs of Purchasing Vs. Training

If you’re eligible to receive a service animal, most organizations have a two-year waitlist.

The cost is also significant to train canines. The good news is Veterans generally do not pay for their service dogs through accredited programs. However, you should expect to pay for dog food, grooming, boarding, and routine pet expenses.

It’s also possible to train your own pet to assist you with everyday tasks. Keep in mind not all dogs have the right temperament for training. It's best to get help from an accredited organization to get the best results. 

4. Review the Type of Dogs Appropriate for Training 

Service dogs need a specific temperament for training and assistance. And the breed of the dog heavily influences their behavior. So, if you’re looking for a service dog for PTSD, you need the right breed of dog to achieve the best results.

These breeds typically make good therapy dogs, including:

  • Labradors
  • Gold Retrievers
  • German Shepherds
  • Poodles
  • Boxers
  • Cavalier King Charles Spaniel 
  • Lhasa Apso

It’s possible other pups would make good service animals. It’s important to work with the experts to find the right fit for you.

5. Find the Right Organization 

Many Veterans start with their local VA to ask how they can get a service dog for PTSD and where to find one. After a diagnosis, your VA can help you connect with service dog organizations.

Several organizations provide trained service animals for Veterans. Here are a few options to explore.

  1. Sierra Delta: We train Life Buddies to make daily life easier to manage. We also partner with organizations to find the right service animal for you.
  2. NEADS: Provides services for ill, injured, deaf, and disabled Veterans.
  3. K9s for Warriors: Provides service dogs to Veterans suffering from PTSD, traumatic brain injuries, or military sexual trauma.
  4. Working Dogs for Vets: provides service dogs and training to disabled Veterans in need returning to civilian life.

Work with Sierra Delta

Sierra Delta works to empower every United States Military Veteran with access to approved dog training for service dogs or Life Buddies. We are a registered non-profit organization on a mission to empower both disabled and non-disabled Veterans with access to approved dog training. 

We offer two free training paths: a traditional service dog program and our Life Buddy Program.

Life Buddies are trained for Veterans' unique and individual needs, are available to all Veterans regardless of disability status, and you may not need them for all parts of your day. This gives your relationship with your dog more flexibility, while strengthening trust. 9 out of 10 Veterans in our community choose the Life Buddy Program because they find it more suited to their needs. 

Join us today to learn more about how Sierra Delta can help empower you with a service dog for PTSD or help train your pup!

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