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PTSD Service Dog

What is a PTSD Service Dog?

We are currently only placing PTSD Service Dogs with first responders and defence force personnel living with post-traumatic stress disorder. These dogs can be trained to provide a combination of physical task-oriented and emotional support to assist their owner and help them to overcome fears.

PTSD Service Dogs undergo a unique training placement, where they are trained to work with the very individual and specific needs of their owner, in particular detecting signals of anxiety, or their owner's 'trigger''. Upon sensing their owner's trigger, the dog is trained to perform a specific cue to help alleviate the symptoms of this trigger, for example, engaging in eye contact and body contact to comfort their owner and divert their attention.

The dogs can master bespoke cues to help their owner overcome psychological trauma linked to specific situations, including but not limited to:

  • Standing in front of their owner offering a barrier and space.
  • Positioning itself behind their owner, a technique known as “posting” which helps to ease hyperawareness, the feeling of being constantly on edge.
  • Entering a room before the owner and turning on the lights so they don’t have to enter a dark space.
  • Entering a room or house and sweeping it for people or intruders, alerting its owner by barking.
  • Providing physical contact if their owner suffers a nightmare.
  • Diverting their owner's attention to the dog, a technique known as ''anchoring'', helping to bring their owner back to the present moment.
  • Providing continuous companionship and a sense of routine.

A PTSD Service Dog has full public access rights meaning they are allowed in any public place* and on all public transport. It is illegal to refuse entry to a Service Dog*.

*The only exceptions are zoos, aquariums, sterile environments, food preparation areas and quarantine areas.

People who receive a PTSD Service Dog are provided with a photographic identity badge as proof of Service Dog status, which they must take with them in public, and a Service Dog jacket for the dog.

The Stephane and Veo Story

After serving in the armed forces for 18 years, both at home and abroad, Stephane was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Stephane has told us how being matched with Veo has changed his life, and continues to change it each day they are together.

"Veo's company is an endless source of support for me.I find myself laughing at his mischief; seeing new things that I couldn't see before; having the motivation to leave the house and also feeling protected at all times.''

"By being by my side when I withdraw and disappear, Veo has given me the mental fortitude to do the things I would normally shy away from and or avoid.''

A PTSD Service Dog has an impact on not only the client it is matched with, but the whole family too. Assistance Dogs Australia works with families in the training and placement process,to share experiences together and welcome their newest addition to the family. 

"Most of all, my little girls love him and he brings us all together.''

To read the story of another client who has been matched with a PTSD Service Dog, click here.

How can I apply for a PTSD Service Dog?*

*Please note that currently our PTSD Service Application process is on hold due to overwhelming demand and the immense success of this program. We are working hard to reopen the application process and provide the best service we can, as soon as we can, to those who could benefit from one of our extraordinary dogs. 


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