Dog PTSD and Trauma Behaviour

 Dog PTSD and Trauma Behaviour


Identifying Traumatised Dogs and How to Support Them.
 Dogs with PTSD, or anxiety disorders


PTSD post traumatic stress disorder, has been found in dogs. The most obvious candidates being serving military dogs. The military dogs are often used to sniff out hidden bombs, which has risks, as does all necessary military work. Military dogs won’t go near areas resembling where the event occurred. However PTSD is not limited to serving military dogs, it also occurs with household pets.The dog may have experienced a intense and stressful incident, or physical harm, or great threat. Events may be multiple and compounding, or one highly stressful incident. Dogs have been found to have similar pathological conditions as humans. Dogs which have been found to experience PTSD have similar biochemical changes after the traumatic event. Anon (2010) Huntingford J (2013), Gordon s & Johnson (2019),Overall K (2000).

A pet dog may have been through for example a natural disaster, an abusive person, serious accident, or sudden traumatic loss of its owner. There may be dog behaviour changes. A dog may be more aggressively defensive, fearful, avoid people, or hiding, more anxious, vocalising, defecating, urinating, more destructive, than before the traumatic incident. A veterinarian will diagnose PTSD and decide on effective clinical choices. The dog also needs to be throughly behaviourally assessed, to identify & differentiate behavioural reasons and tailor behavioural therapy. Each experience and dog is unique.Recovery takes time and is relative to; history, intensity, management, owner input and clinical prognosis, Anon (2010) Huntingford J (2013).

Diagnosis and Help

PTSD occurs in some dogs after significant incidents. As an adaptive response, the dog may be apprehensive of a perceived threat, or cues that a treat may occur, perhaps, restless, hesitant, easily startled, nervous, or behaviourally aroused. Acute PTSD occurs in some dogs after significant incidents, or it may complex as a result of various factors, or long term and chronic. Behaviour modification is very gradual, at the dogs rate.

However there are also many other, non PTSD, non trauma anxiety issues, in particular contexts, that exist with many dogs to varying levels. Veterinary differentials need to be ruled out clinically, by your veterinarian and then behaviour assessed, by a dog behaviourist, before concluding the dog is suffering from PTSD. A dog and owner can be helped by Canine Whispers with a tailored dog behaviour modification and training plan.

References;Huntingford J (2013 ) Post Traumatic Stress in Dogs . Available from; Accessed 6/12/19,Gordon s & Johnson (2019) Military dogs suffering PTDS from combating Iraq and Afghanistan Accessed 5/12/19,Overall K (2000)Natural Animal Models of Human Psychiatric conditions; assessment ofmechanisium and validity. Progress in neuropharmacology and biological psychiatry Elsevier. Available from; Accessed 5/12/19,Anon(2010) PTSD in dogs. Veterinary medicine and biochemical sciences. Available from; Accessed 5/12/19. TCBTS (2021) Identifying Traumatised Dogs and How to Support Them. Available from;