Each year on Veterans’ Day, Three Dog Bakery donates 15% of the sales of all TDB branded treats from every outlet to FISH – (Friends in Service of Heroes). Established in 2013, FISH is a non-profit organization dedicated to helping veterans. To date, they have provided many veterans with service dogs. The donation made by Three Dog Bakery on Veterans’ Day goes towards supplying a veteran chosen by FISH with a PTSD service dog. Since 2014 Three Dog Bakery raised over $20,000. Our goal of raising $10,000 this year is ambitious, but it is attainable with a little help from their friends.
All service dogs require specialized training, even more so post-traumatic stress disorder dogs. As with all working dogs, choosing a dog who possesses the appropriate temperament is a must. Once you have your prospective service dog, he will be placed with an experienced trainer. Ideally, training starts at six to eight weeks of age, though adult dogs can be successfully trained to become PTSD service dogs. Puppies, and dogs needing it will be introduced to basic commands. These commands will include sit, stay, down, settle, leave it and come. Training must be consistent and will ideally be done using positive methods. After mastering basic commands, canine trainees will be exposed to different situations. They will be exposed to all types of sounds and will be socialized with a variety of people. It is important to note that, even though the dog is being socialized, he should not be overly sociable to the point where he will attempt to greet everyone he sees and lose sight of his job responsibilities. Socializing will involve being taken to public establishments, such as restaurants and shopping malls, to learn social skills and manners. Once the basics are learned and socializing is mastered, more intense training will commence.
PTSD service dogs are trained to perform specific, precise tasks. These may include picking up objects, retrieving medicine or merely coming closer to their handler to provide comfort. They must learn leash manners and how to walk in a heel position. They will be taught to relieve themselves outside and on command. It is imperative that they learn to ignore distractions, including other dogs, and focus on the task at hand. When a dog masters these skills, he will be placed with his veteran – unless the veteran in question was involved with the basic training as well. The veteran will continue to train side by side with his companion. Together they will learn to communicate with one another and the dog will further specialize his craft to the specific needs of the veteran. The PTSD service dog will be trained to mitigate the symptoms of his handler; night terrors, hallucinations, reclusiveness, general anxiety or whatever his needs may be. Training together will ensure the dog and handler understand each other’s needs and commands. Inevitably, while training together, bonding will occur and the two will become inseparable companions.
In most cases, service dogs complete their training by the time they are two years old. It is a long, arduous and expensive process. With the help of volunteers and the generosity of donations, such as those made by Three Dog Bakery, a post-traumatic stress disorder service dog will forever improve the life of the veteran that is lucky enough to be paired with him.