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THE POWER OF A DOG’S LOVE: HOW A DOG’S NATURE HELPS WITH PTSD


It is known that a dog’s love is unique and that the human-canine bond is a very special phenomenon. Service dogs help people with many disabilities. Psychiatric service dogs help those with unseen disabilities such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Psychiatric service dogs are trained to perform specific tasks to mitigate symptoms. But a dog’s innate nature and “unconditional” love are also important factors in helping people suffering from PTSD.

In this post, we will look at the power of a dog’s love, and how their innate characteristics have a healing effect on PTSD.

Most dog lovers will agree that having a dog has many benefits. Some of these benefits include helping with feelings of depression, anxiety, and loneliness. They can be a mood booster and provide companionship

Below are some ways that a dog’s love and nature helps people with post-traumatic stress disorder.

THEY LOVE UNCONDITIONALLY

A dog’s love can help people dealing with PTSD cope with emotional traumas and give them a companion. PTSD can cause someone to become isolated, depressed, or even push others away. But a dog’s unconditional love, support, and understanding can help a handler feel loved and appreciated. A dog’s unconditional love can even help a handler remember feelings of love.

THEY DON’T JUDGE

Just like unconditional love, a dog also has a non-judgemental nature. This is helpful because a handler can feel safe to be themselves and express themselves freely to their service dog. They don’t have to worry about being judged or misunderstood. They can help break down the figurative walls that a handler with PTSD may build up.

THEY CAN TEACH TRUST

People with PTSD can have trouble with trust and it can be difficult for them to feel safe in their environment. A dog is naturally vigilant and a handler can trust them. This puts a handler at ease and can even help them trust in other areas of their lives. A dog’s fierce loyalty is also unwavering and can help a handler learn how to trust again.

THEY CAN HELP GET A HANDLER OUT OF THE HOUSE

A dog’s natural energy gives a handler a reason to get up and out of the house. A handler will have a reason to go outside which can help battle feelings of loneliness, isolation, and depression. This can also help handlers be more active, get some exercise and perhaps even socialize. 

THEY INCREASE OXYTOCIN

Dogs can increase the neurohormone oxytocin. Oxytocin is a hormone that is sometimes referred to as the “love hormone.” It helps decrease stress and is associated with trust, relationship-building, and empathy. Having a bond with a service dog can increase Oxytocin levels that are beneficial for PTSD.

A dog’s innate characteristics and ability to love, paired with their training, make them an excellent companion for both mitigating and healing symptoms for people suffering from PTSD. To read more about how dogs help with PTSD, read New Life K9s article, 6 Ways Service Dogs Help People with PTSD

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New Life K9s places service dogs with veterans and first responders with PTSD at no cost to the veterans and first responders.

References:

  1. “Why Dogs Heal PTSD” Psychology Today. 30 July 2011 https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/survivors/201107/why-dogs-heal-ptsd  

  2. “How Service and Therapy Dogs Are Helping PTSD Victims.” The Dog People by Rover.com, 5 Oct. 2019 https://www.rover.com/blog/ptsd-service-therapy-dogs/  

  3. Rafner, Laura. “The Human-Animal Bond: How Bonding With A Service Dog Can Change A Key Hormone Level In the Brain and Help to Treat PTSD” 26 Feb 2021. New Life K9s https://www.newlifek9s.org/news-events/blog/service-dog-blog.html/article/2021/02/26/the-human-animal-bond-how-bonding-with-a-service-dog-can-change-a-key-hormone-level-in-the-brain-and-help-to-treat-ptsd  

  4. Buck, Katelyn. “4 Ways Dogs Help Veterans Cope With PTSD”  Paw.com. https://www.paw.com/blogs/the-treat-blog/4-ways-dogs-help-veterans-cope-with-ptsd

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