Though they’re famous for aiding individuals with visual impairments and assisting people who struggle with mobility, service dogs provide much more than physical support. They also provide mental support. Now, a new study from PLOS ONE investigates the mechanisms behind these mental benefits, specifically for veterans with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This study, the authors say, is already improving scientific understandings of the bond between service dogs and veterans and will inspire innovations in the training and placement of service dogs in the future.
The study authors surveyed veterans before pairing them with a service dog and again three months after pairing them. The authors also observed the veterans’ interactions with their dogs, all in an attempt to accurately understand the benefits of the veteran-dog bond.
Analyzing these surveys and observations, the study authors then assessed the connections between the characteristics of the dogs, the closeness of the veteran-dog bond and the severity of the veteran’s PTSD symptoms. They discovered that the characteristics of a dog were not associated with any particular strength of symptoms, save for a dog’s calmness, composure and manageability, which were all associated with a closer bond and a weaker severity of PTSD.
Read more at DiscoverMagazine.com.