Best Dog Breeds for PTSD and How to Train Them?

Post-traumatic stress disorder, also called PTSD, is usually associated with service veterans who have seen the horrors of war. Still, PTSD can affect other individuals who have been through some different rough life experiences as well.

People who are dealing with PTSD may not be able to live a healthy life due to flashbacks, anxiety, and constant feelings of being in danger. Medication and therapy are often used to treat people with PTSD. And a service dog can also be a big help to those suffering from this condition.

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What is a PTSD service dog?

A PTSD service dog is a dog that is specially trained to help adults and children suffering from this condition. These dogs may be trained to help people with physical disabilities, such as the loss of a leg or vision.

As well as being prepared to pick up stress signals from their owners and intervene or shift their owner’s focus to something more positive. They may be trained for several other helpful functions as well.

How do dogs help with PTSD?

best dog breeds for PTSD and how they help

PTSD service dogs can help in many different ways. They may remind their owners when it is time to take medication, wake them up from night terrors, or if they are sleeping too much. They also provide tactile stimulation, a sense of security, and reassurance to their owner.

Dog therapy efficiency for PTSD

While there have been very few studies involving the effectiveness of PTSD service dogs on alleviating the symptoms of PTSD in their owners or helping them in recovering from this condition.

However, one study did indicate that dog therapy for PTSD could be useful in helping people suffering from PTSD. Here are just some of the things that these therapy dogs seem to be helping with: providing a sense of security, decreasing the number of nightmares, encouraging more exercise, etc. 

How can you get a service dog for PTSD?

Several organizations train service dogs for PTSD. You will need to find one of these programs and then fill out an application for a service dog.

During the process, your counselor or therapist may need to fill out a portion of the form required. He or she will state that you are attending therapy at least once a month and list the areas that they feel a service dog can help you with. 

Once you are accepted, you will be matched with a service dog based on your needs and your personality. Then you and your dog will need to go through a training program (usually 2 weeks). 

How to train a dog for PTSD?

Training a service dog for PTSD takes a great deal of time, effort, and knowledge. Service dogs are chosen for their intelligence, personality, calmness, ability to follow directions, as well as certain innate qualities. 

They are then spayed or neutered and taught basic commands. They will go through clicker training and socialization. They will learn how to behave leashed and unleashed and taught specialized skills based on specific needs.

They then go through training with the assigned owner to bond. So that both the owner and the dog can get to know each other signals. Not every dog that starts training ends up certified.

PTSD service dog training cost 

The cost of training a PTSD service dog can run anywhere from between 15,000 to 60,000 dollars depending on several different things, including the value of the dog, vet bills, feed and care, and training. Many organizations get donations so that the cost required to be paid by individuals in need is lower than the actual cost.

Can you self train a PTSD dog?

While it is possible to self-train a PTSD dog the task may be difficult since you need to be familiar with dog behavior in general and how to properly train a dog to meet your specific needs. This may even be more difficult for a person who suffers from PTSD.

Is it possible to get free service dogs for PTSD? 

Keep in mind that no PTSD service dog is actually free, the money for the dog and his training needs to be paid by someone. But, many places raise funds to supply people who need a PTSD service dog with one at no cost to them. 

In other situations, people needing a PTSD service dog or their families or community hold fundraisers to get the money required to purchase a PTSD service dog.

What breed makes the best PTSD service dog?

No one breed is superior when it comes to a PTSD service dog. Several different dogs have the intelligence, personality, strength, and training to make a good service dog.

It is more about the compatibility of the dog with the person suffering from the condition. We’ve come up with several options to give you an idea. So keep reading.

Large breed dogs for PTSD

Several large breed dogs make good PTSD dogs, and here is just a small selection.

Golden Retriever 

Golden retrievers make excellent PTSD support dogs. These are not only large enough to carry heavy objects should their owner need assistance. They also are highly intelligent and easy to train.

Goldens are also gentle and loyal, and they are exceptionally sensitive to mood changes. They know how to give comfort to those who are sad, depressed, or stressed, which is essential to someone who is suffering from PTSD.

Labrador Retriever 

Labrador Retrievers make excellent service dogs for several different people, including those with PTSD. These dogs are happiest when they have a purpose, which makes them suited to being a support animal. They have the size and the strength to carry reasonably heavy objects. They are affectionate and sensitive to their owners’ needs. 

Labs are easy to train to perform many functions and are exceedingly loyal companions and helpers to their owners. 


Boxers are generally not a breed one thinks of as a service dog. Still, they can actually make a good dog for people who have PTSD and live in an apartment or small home, since these dogs adapt well to small living spaces.

They are also large enough to perform many physical tasks that may be needed and small enough to navigate crowded locations. 

Although Boxers are high energy, they seem to have an innate sense when they need to be gentle. Which makes them an excellent choice for children and older people suffering from PTSD. These dogs are also sensitive to mood changes. 

Small breed PTSD therapy dogs

Smaller breed dogs won’t be able to tackle some of the physical demands of PTSD sufferers. But they can make exceptional therapy dogs for those who are physically healthy but struggling with physiological and emotional issues. Here is a look at some of the small breed dogs that make excellent therapy dogs for PTSD:


Havanese may be small, but these little dogs are highly trainable and are naturally sensitive to mood changes. And can be taught to interrupt harmful behavior on the part of their owner.

They can be trained to get medications for their owner, and their loving nature helps to ease depression symptoms for those suffering from PTSD.

Besides, since these dogs make lovely lap dogs, simply petting them and receiving dog kisses from this loving breed can serve to help calm anxiety. 


While standard poodles are most often trained as therapy dogs for people with PTSD, even the smaller dogs of this breed can be prepared as therapy dogs. Poodles are actually rated as number 3 among the top psychiatric service dogs. They are easy to teach, responding well to both physical and verbal cues.

These dogs are loyal companions, and they are also hypoallergenic. They make the best therapy dogs for those who need to have a dog as a constant companion.

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

These dogs were initially bred as a companion and comfort dog, which makes them temperamentally suited to become a therapy dog for people with PTSD.

These dogs are highly intelligent and capable of being trained to handle specific tasks. Their loving nature and their desire to be petted helps to calm those who are feeling anxious.

They can also sense mood changes and are naturally sympathetic and can be trained to wake up someone having night terrors and comforting them.


A Pomeranian may not be able to pull a wheelchair or carry heavy objects. Still, these happy little dogs are capable of fetching medication, calming those who feel anxious, and providing love in affection.

Also, Pomeranian dogs are so cute that they may work as conversation starters, which may help those with PTSD interact with others. Their enjoyment of being outdoors with their owners also helps to encourage those PTSD to get more exercise. 

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