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dog with PTSD

Can Dogs Suffer From PTSD?

Can Dogs Suffer From PTSD?

Why Some Trainers Get It Wrong

"Dogs live in the moment, they live in the NOW..."

This was one of the sayings that a celebrity dog trainer once said before... While I understand the statement was well-intentioned, trying to get dog owners to focus on their current efforts in training the dog...

This statement is not entirely true.

Dogs can very well suffer from past trauma and stress - post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). 

Just like humans, dogs can experience traumatic events that leave lasting emotional imprints.

These events can range from accidents, abuse, or even natural disasters, and they can profoundly impact our furry friends' well-being. We might even have heard of personal stories from friends and family about their dog's anxiety and stress from their past.

Understanding and addressing these experiences is crucial for their healing and overall quality of life.

Anxious Dogs Barking

Symptoms of Canine PTSD:

  1. Hypervigilance: Dogs may become excessively alert, always on edge, and easily startled, as they anticipate potential threats.

  2. Avoidance Behavior: They might actively avoid situations, places, or objects that remind them of the traumatic event, demonstrating fear or apprehension.

  3. Flashbacks and Triggers: Dogs with PTSD can experience distressing flashbacks or exhibit intense reactions when exposed to stimuli that remind them of their past trauma.

  4. Changes in Social Behavior: Dogs may become withdrawn, display aggression, or struggle with trust, affecting their relationships with humans and other animals.

It is crucial to recognize the signs and provide compassionate support for dogs coping with PTSD or past trauma. 

While dogs indeed live in the moment, their brains are very capable of remembering past traumatic events, which affects their behaviour today (no matter how loving and how skilled dog owners are in training them). 

Helping Dogs With PTSD

How To Help Dogs With PTSD:

  1. Create a Safe Environment: Establish a secure and comforting space where your dog feels protected. This can include a designated area in your home or a cozy crate that provides a sense of security.

  2. Maintain Consistency: Stick to predictable routines and environments to provide stability and minimize anxiety triggers for your dog.

  3. Seek Professional Help: Consult with a qualified veterinarian or animal behaviorist experienced in trauma-related issues. They can offer guidance, develop a tailored treatment plan, and recommend therapies, such as desensitization or counterconditioning.

  4. Patience and Positive Reinforcement: Utilize positive reinforcement techniques, rewarding desired behaviors, and avoiding punishment. Be patient and understanding as your dog navigates their healing journey.

  5. Provide Mental Stimulation: Engage your dog in activities that challenge their mind, such as puzzle toys, interactive games, and obedience training. Mental stimulation can help redirect their focus and build confidence.

  6. Consider Therapeutic Options: Explore complementary therapies like aromatherapy, massage, or music therapy, which can aid relaxation and emotional well-being.

  7. Consider the use of natural CBD Oil that can help your dogs relax and better cope with stressors and anxiety. 

Remember, your unconditional love and support are paramount throughout this process. With time, patience, and proper care, dogs can make significant strides in overcoming their past traumas and living fulfilling lives.

If you suspect your dog may be struggling with PTSD or past trauma, it's essential to seek professional guidance to ensure their well-being. 

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