A veteran with PTSD needs a dog that has the proper education to go with him/her anywhere in public where dogs are not otherwise legally allowed. It is the public access skills that are the difficult part of the teaching, requiring a very special dog.
Teaching service dogs also improves the lives of those who teach them. Dog training teaches leadership, patience, discipline, positive communication, confidence, and problem solving.
The tasks that service dogs can perform to meet the needs of a veteran with PTSD can include waking him up from a nightmare and even turning on lights, reminding him to take medications on time (even bringing the medication to the person), bark on command to warn off a potentially threatening stranger, and helps to decrease levels of anxiety. Many veterans take medications that affect their balance. A service dog can assist with balance by performing a “brace” command in which the veteran can use the dog’s body to steady himself.
It takes about 6 months to teach a dog for public access and to complete approximately 100 tasks on cue. Although teaching tasks can start as early as 4 weeks of age, dogs do not develop the maturity for public access (being allowed in restaurants, grocery stores, etc.) until 2 years of age.
While the puppies/dogs are being taught for service dog work, they need “puppy raisers” with whom the canines can live. There, they gain exposure and prepare for everyday life circumstances such as children, other pets, household noises, riding in a car, and family outings for example.
Some organizations quote the cost of training a service dog as high as $70,000 per graduated dog. New Life K9s will provide service dogs to veterans at NO COST TO THE VETERAN. Without sacrificing quality, New Life K9s cost per graduated dog is only $15,000.