By Andrea Harris at MY ESA Doctor
We read stories about wars and famous veterans through history lessons. It taught us how war rolls into the life of humans and leaves an irrevocable impact. Furthermore, art also portrays the fine aspects of war. There is horror and there is beauty. The portrayal of war through films is appalling and leaves us bewildered. So, imagine if it happened to an individual in real life. Yes, it wouldn’t be wrong to say that the impact is devastating. But, at the end of the day helping veterans with the help of the best dog breeds for depression can make a whole lot of difference.
Let’s look at some myriad research on the same topic. The US
Department of Veterans in March 2015, took one step forward and looked
into the efficiency of service dogs. Subsequently, the research is still
prevalent but it gives us hope that animals can help veterans to cope
up with mental health issues.
Besides, history also provides us with enough proof. It dates back to
World War 2 when a Yorkshire Terrier was adopted by a group of
soldiers. This dog was one of the first therapy dogs who accompanied
military doctors and nurses. Since then, several non-profit
organizations have taken an initiative to shelter dogs and train them to
the best of their potential.
A similar organization by the name of ‘pets for vets’, founded in the year 2009 helped veterans find a companion for their mental health issues. The hope lies in the fact that all these organizations and researchers will help those in dire need of emotional support. But, it is noteworthy that PTSD can affect anyone. Due to this, Americans opt for emotional support animals to fight depression and anxiety. Whereas, service animals help individuals with physical disabilities.
The Difference Between Service and Emotional Support Animals
Both sets of animals come under the eye of federal law. Emotional support animals can be acquired with the help of a recommendation from mental health specialists. So, they are capable of supporting individuals with depression, anxiety, and panic attacks. On the other hand service animals are necessary for individuals suffering from severe mental problems and physical disabilities.
Keeping the dire need of a patient in mind, the U.S. government took an initiative to introduce a law. Under this law, an individual with service animals have the right to travel and stay with them without any objections.
Psychiatric Service Dogs for U.S. Veterans
In a study conducted on a group of veterans, it was revealed that male veterans form a close bond with their service animal over a certain period of time. Likewise, it helps them cope with post-traumatic stress and symptoms of depression. The study claims that veterans with dogs are more active. The dog stays in close proximity, follows them from one room to another, and hardly show any signs of aggression. As a result, there appears to be a closeness between the dog and the patient. The same connection then leads to positive behavior and alleviates symptoms of depression. Overall educating the dog plays a major role in changing the behavioral aspects of the concerned individual.
Another study conducted by the Purdue University College of Veterinary Medicine showed that the symptoms related to PTSD were comparatively low in veterans with service dogs. The study also evaluated the symptoms of PTSD. As a result, the researchers noticed lower levels of post-traumatic stress, lower levels of depression, improved quality of social life and positive reinforcement in individuals who stayed under the supervision of psychiatric service dogs.
How Do Pets Help Veterans with PTSD and Other Mental Health Problems?
A wide variety of service dogs like Golden Retrievers, Labradors,
Terriers, etc. are trained rigorously. Due to which, these dogs can
perform tasks that normal dogs cannot. However, it is mandatory for a
service dog to be at least 24 inches tall.
During the process of training, dogs learn specific things. For
example, commands like “block” means that the dog is supposed to help
the war veteran by standing sideways in front of them. Also, the dog
will immediately make sure that his owner gets personal space by
constantly forming a circle around the owner. Additionally, if a dog
feels that his owner is about to have an anxiety attack. The dog will
recognize the signs and immediately provide first-hand assistance.
Because the dogs are trained to recognize these symptoms, it is
recommended for veterans to keep dogs as service animals.
Moreover, veterans who wish to have a service animal should first
attend a training session. The training is a three-week program that
allows an individual to learn necessary things. Like how to care and
interact with the dog, how to train them for personal requirements, and
how to keep a check on the essential needs of the dog? In turn, service
dogs help not only veterans but also others with mental disorders.
Top 4 Breeds that Make Exceptional Service Dogs
Golden Retrievers are one of the most loved and adored breeds. They
can learn and grasp things easily. For instance, they can pick up heavy
things, provide physical assistance, and their loyalty towards their
owner is immeasurable. Consequently, with traits like obedience and
patience, Goldies make the best service animals. If you train them well
and guide them in the right direction you will be able to reach desired
Vigilant, loyal and due to their willingness to learn new things, Labradors makes to the top of the list. They can be trained to help people with physical disabilities and emotional instabilities. They are also one of the best dog breeds for depression. So, with an ability to sense emotional stress, these dogs can help war veterans and others with PTSD.
German Shepherds are happy to perform and learn activities showered upon them by their trainer. They are famous for assisting police personnel and army personnel in search and rescue operations, because this breed is known to form a special connection with its owner in the shortest period of time.
American Staffordshire Terriers are ranked on top of the list. This is why if terriers are trained to their full capacity, they can prove to be beneficial in several ways. Above all, terries can be good emotional support dogs, excellent service dogs, and assist the owner with medical needs.
A good psychiatric service dog can help individuals with different mental disorders. Be it war veterans or any other individual, the best dog breeds for depression will help you on a day-to-day basis. Though the essence of a service dog lies in the connection you have with them. Eventually, the more you are connected to the dog, the better you will feel over time. — Published on September 9, 2019
YOU ARE NOT ALONE
If you or a Veteran you know is suffering from PTSD, Anxiety, Loneliness or Depression, you are not alone.
The – Minds At War – Crisis Support Helpline Number is open 24/7 and a First Responder is on call at all times.
- 0800 031 4368
You can also ring this same number during normal hours and seek advice, support and guidance.