Service Dogs Helping Veterans with PTSD

As we appreciate our men and women in uniform, we want to call attention to one of the unintended consequences that can happen as a result of serving in the military - PTSD. Understanding Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and how it affects the lives and loved ones of our affected service members can give us an increased appreciation for their sacrifice. It is an honor for America's VetDogs to support service members with PTSD through providing specially trained service dogs at no-cost to them. 

A service dog for post traumatic stress disorder is trained to help diminish the symptoms of PTSD by performing tasks that help mitigate the handler’s disability.  Our dogs can be trained to perform nightmare interruption, extension of personal space, shaking hands to integrate with the public, calming with the ‘rest’ command, & "get help", which alerts a family member or loved one.

Making the decision to work with a Service Dog is a transformational event that extends into every area of a handler's life.  Because of this momentous change, it’s crucial that each of our students is teamed with a dog that best suits that person’s capability, lifestyle, mobility, personality and psychological needs.  As each applicant is accepted to our program, we carefully match them with a dog that’s right for them, and the power of their bond makes ordinary moments extraordinary. 

PTSD Service Dog Training

As you work through our application process, you’ll be providing us with key information that will assist our instructors when matching a dog best suited to your needs.  With a clear understanding of our client goals and objectives, we have succesfully crafted a program that you’ll be excited to participate in.  
Our certified America’s VetDogs training team will train your dog tasks that will specifically help mitigate your disability.    

On-class Training

During our in-residence training program, students are introduced to basic obedience and commands, ways to motivate and reward their dogs and service dog handling techniques in preparation for receiving their new PTSD service dog. Throughout class, our instructors will provide hands-on training along with one-on-one interaction as well as full access to our extensive video reference library. Students will also work on the fundamentals of communicating and working with their new canine partner in various settings both on campus and in other training environments. Training includes personalized task training, basic and advanced obedience, primary and secondary motivators, discussions on dog care, etiquette, canine communication, learning theory and more. 

By the time the team graduates from our program, students will have a clear understanding of how to read their dog and anticipate their dog’s reaction to environmental changes, use of appropriate equipment to become the most effective handler and understand how to motivate and reward their dog throughout the working day. Students will also learn how to work with their dogs in various settings that include residential and country environments; outings to malls, grocery stores and other stores, transportation venues including overland rail, train platforms, airports and other types of real-world situations.

Prior to the completion of class, each new handler and dog team will have to pass the Assistance Dog International Public Access Test. The test is to determine if the dog is safe to be in public and that the handler demonstrates that he/she has control of the dog at all times. These in-person ADI Public Access Tests will be repeated annually to bi-annually throughout the working career of the dog team.

Program Completion

Upon completion of training, the newly created PTSD service dog team will have begun to master the techniques they need to be successful. These include utilizing dog positioning to extend personal space, performing nightmare interruption, having the dog summon assistance, utilizing their dog for calming and also interacting with the public.

Should a graduate require follow-up training, they are required to contact our staff to discuss their concerns. Our staff will arrange to work with them on any questions or concerns through the use of technology, telephone calls and personal visits when appropriate, in a prompt and professional manner. Each graduate will be contacted two weeks after they return to their home environment and every three months for the first year to ensure that the standards reached at graduation are maintained. Each new handler will be required to have their dog recertified one year after program completion, then every two years. 

Eligibility: How to get a service dog for PTSD

If you are a veteran or first responder who is interested in applying for a PTSD service dog, please review the following information to determine if you meet our eligibility requirements.  Our service dog for PTSD program serves veterans with combat-related PTSD and first-responders with work-related PTSD.

  • You have served in any of the branches of the U.S. Armed Forces from any era, and have received an honorable discharge.
  • You are a first responder who has a work-related disability.
  • Applicants with a PTSD diagnosis are required to be in consistent ongoing counseling and have been under the consistent care of a Mental Health Professional for a minimum of 1 year, prior to applying. 
  • Applicants with a history of substance abuse must be abstinent from all substances for a minimum of 1 year to apply.   
  • You can independently attend our two-week residential training program.
  • You are dedicated to maintaining the dog’s training throughout the life of the team and can provide for the well-being of the dog, approximately $100 per month.
  • You are able to meet the needs of an Assistance Dog, and have an appropriate support system in place to do so if/when you are unable to yourself.

How much does a PTSD service dog cost?

All services are provided at free of charge to clients — this includes your dog, transportation to and from our campus in Smithtown, New York, instruction, and more.   

If you have any questions about our programs, please reach out to the America's VetDogs Consumer Service office at 866-282-8047 or