Veterans Initiative

Service Dogs for Veterans with PTSD

Are you ready for a service dog?

Canine Companions places service dogs with military veterans and veterans with disabilities entirely free of charge. Service dogs can assist veterans with a variety of physical, auditory and trauma-related disabilities. Canine Companions’ expertly trained service dogs can perform physical tasks to enhance independence including retrieving dropped items, opening doors, picking up prosthetics and alerting a veteran with hearing loss to important sounds in their environment.

With the increase in military veterans returning with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), Canine Companions launched a program in 2018 to directly place service dogs with veterans with PTSD.

Dogs are trained to identify each veteran’s unique stressors and perform tasks that directly disrupt escalation of symptoms, thus enhancing their quality of life. Tasks may be performed for anxiety, hypervigilance and generalized fear. The dog supports their handler in crowded public situations by creating barriers and distance that might provoke anxiety for individuals with PTSD. Additional tasks such as nightmare interruption, turning on lights and retrieving items are taught to support veterans’ daily lives.

While veterans interested in a service dog for physical or auditory disability are offered at all six Canine Companions training centers, currently the PTSD program is offered in our Northwest, Northeast and South Central Regions. Applicants for the PTSD program must be United States Armed Forces veterans.

Canine Companions has provided hundreds of service dogs to US war veterans across the country.

With the increase in wounded veterans who could benefit from a service dog, we want to do more. For a veteran making a new start putting their life back together from an injury, a service dog can provide the help they need to regain independence.

Canine Companions recognizes the urgent and growing need for programs that provide support to veterans with disabilities. Many of the brave men and women returning home from combat with disabling injuries – visible and invisible – experience a litany of new challenges.

Often, they face difficult transitions back to civilian life as well as uncertain futures with new disabilities. Canine Companions service dogs can empower veterans to regain physical independence, pride and hope. Beyond much-needed physical assistance, the love, loyalty and positivity of a canine partner can make a profound, lasting impact on someone dealing with difficult emotions that are hard to communicate.

“Just having someone with me to help do things that are difficult for me really affects my life positively.” – Charlie with his service dog Devon

Portrait photo of James Dugan
Jim Dugan is the Veteran Programs Manager with Canine Companions. His primary role is to assist you and be your greatest advocate. He served active duty as a U.S. Army K9 handler for 8 years. Following military service, he worked in law enforcement and the service dog industry for the remainder of his career. If you have questions, are considering if a dog is right for you, or having challenges with the application process he is here to help you. Contact Jim by completing the Contact Us form or at (707)297-3682.

Gabe Martinez with his Canine Companions Service Dog WonkaCanine Companions was the first service dog organization to be accredited by Assistance Dogs International, and has provided service dogs to over 7,000 people with disabilities.

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Learn more about the types of service dogs Canine Companions places >>

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Questions? Please contact us at 1-800-572-BARK (2275) or via email.

The process to receive a Canine Companions service dog includes multiple steps. Click the button below to find out if a service dog is right for you and start the process to receive more information.