Adopted A Dog With Behavior Problems? Here's What You Need To Know About Canine PTSD

PTSD can affect dogs. In fact, 10% of military working dogs develop PTSD from the rigors of working in war-time situations. However, dogs that are pets can also develop PTSD from various situations they can encounter, such as being in an automobile accident, being terrified in a natural disaster, and being mistreated by humans. Symptoms of canine PTSD include irritability, skittishness, hyper-vigilance, changes in temperament, and avoidance of certain areas or buildings.

These types of symptoms can lead to aggressive and destructive behaviors. Therefore, you may find it challenging to leave your dog alone at home when you go to work. If you have adopted a dog that displays these types of symptoms, here are a few things to try. 

Behavior modification 

In order to modify your dog's behavior, you'll need to first try to figure out what triggers their PTSD. Pay close attention to when your dog shows signs of PTSD and look around and listen for obvious causes. Once the triggers are identified, your dog will need to be trained to believe that the world isn't a bad place and the triggers won't hurt him. For example, if your dog acts aggressive to large men, it may signify that it was mistreated by a large man in it's past. You'll need help with a professional dog trainer who can convince your dog that not all large men are scary. 

Develop a routine

Routine is crucial in controlling a dog's PTSD. Your dog will be able to handle things much easier if it already has an idea of what to expect, such as feeding at the same time every day and going to the same kennel when your dog needs to be boarded. Anything new should be introduced slowly and at your dog's pace. Allow your dog to take the lead when it comes to being in new environments and being exposed to new items, especially in the safe haven of your home. 

Take your dog to a boarding facility

Leaving an aggressive and destructive dog with PTSD at home alone is a recipe just asking for trouble. While it may be possible to use a crate, your dog may injure itself trying to escape in case their PTSD is triggered. Instead of leaving your dog home alone during the day, take it to a dog boarding facility. Work this new transition into the routine slowly, so as not to trigger any PTSD symptoms. Make the staff fully aware of the PTSD triggers and the training methods you are using.