Reducing the Impact of PTSD, Thanks to a Four-Legged Expert

A female dog trainer smiles down  at a yellow lab wearing a blue service vestA staggering number of veterans live in silence with PTSD. We’ve chosen to make serving our veteran clients a core pillar by providing service dogs trained to specifically support our veterans with invisible scars. Canine Companions has 57 expert trainers with expert knowledge to train our life-changing dogs.

Canine Companions service dogs for veterans are trained to mitigate symptoms of PTSD by turning on lights, providing a physical buffer in crowds, retrieving medication and interrupting anxiety and nightmares. These dogs tap into their ability to learn and read subtle cues – even without being asked for assistance. Often, clients relay that their dog “just knows them,” and is able to predict and respond seamlessly to their needs.

“Service Dog Hannon has reduced my movements at night by jumping on the bed when I start to toss and turn,” says U.S. Navy veteran Tracy. “He has made me aware of things I didn’t even know I was doing out of anxiety, like picking at my fingers.” And these important interruptions are up to Hannon to initiate based on the cues he has learned by watching Tracy. Their ever-growing bond helps Hannon identify those features of Tracy’s anxiety before it gets out of control.  

As great problem solvers who love to engage in work and interact, service dogs like Hannon treat training like a game. “They have so much fun learning each task, and that, in turn, makes me look forward to my job every day,” says Instructor Bella Mendoza. “I see service dogs providing veterans with the motivation to get up every day and have the confidence to participate in activities they haven’t been able to do since prior to their service. What more could I hope for?”

Making an Impact:

  • 30% of American veterans live with PTSD*
  • 18 veterans die by suicide every day in the U.S.*
  • 50% higher rate of suicide than non-veterans*
  • 100% of our veteran clients experience increased independence**
  • 95% of our veteran clients notice a decrease in severity and frequency of symptoms**

*Department of Veteran Affairs

**Canine Companions Veteran Impact Survey 2020