For Aussie war veterans suffering post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), the loyalty and friendship of assistance dogs can help them on the path to recovery.

It is estimated that approximately 8.3% of Australian Defence Force (ADF) members will have experienced PTSD in the last 12 months.

Research shows that assistance dogs are an extremely effective intervention for veterans with PTSD, with all studies showing they confer a range of benefits on functioning and mental health.

TV presenter and ambassador for PTSD Dogs Australia, Tamara Wrigley is leading calls for funding and a new property for PTSD Dogs Australia, a non-profit which trains displaced and unwanted dogs to support and assist veterans (both working and medically-discharged) in the Australian Defence Force suffering from PTSD, along with First Responders – Fire, Police and Ambulance.

Since the charity launched in 2018, almost 20 dogs have been through the program, but with mental health issues so prevalent among veterans and first responders – including those caught up in the recent fires – PTSD Dogs Australia ambassador Tamara says there is an urgent need for more dogs, especially as waitlists with other similar charities can be as long as several years.

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A specially trained PTSD Assistance Dog can provide a sense of security, calming effects, and physical exercise that can make a positive difference in the life of those who suffer with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. They are also trained to create space around their Handler to disrupt behaviours such as self harming, shaking and rubbing. . Like all assistance dogs, a PTSD service dog is individually trained to do work or perform tasks that mitigate their handler's disability. Training may include providing environmental assessment, signalling behaviours such as reminding the handler to take medication, and guiding the handler away from stressful situations. . #ptsddogs #ptsddogsareawesome #ptsddogssavelives #ptsddogsaustralia #ptsddogsintraining #ptsddogsofinstagram #ptsddogsforvets #ptsddogsarelifesavers #ptsddogstudy #ptsddogswork #ptsddogsforveteran #ptsddogsurviving #dogsofinstagram #dogs #depression

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“PTSD Dogs Australia has been inundated with requests recently from all over Australia, including those affected by the fires and covid19,” says Tamara.

“It takes at least 18 months and costs around $40,000 to train an assistance dog, and we need a larger property now so we can get these dogs in and start training them so they will be ready for the avalanche of screams for help, because they’re coming.

“We rescue dogs from shelters all over the country, and they’re assessed on their empathy and trainability. We call our training immersion therapy because unlike a psychologist or psychiatrist, who takes them back through the process of whatever caused their PTSD, we minimise the stress of their learning process.”

“It has to be slow and gradual, and once they become familiar with the dog, we take them out into public spaces at quiet times and build their confidence slowly and get them feeling confident and in control again.

“People suffering PTSD tend to remove themselves from society and lock themselves in their house, and our dogs are trained to help mitigate that and get them back out and in the community again.

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“These dogs give people their lives back, and we rescue the dogs which in turn rescue their humans.”

Click here to learn more about PTSD Dogs Australia.