Rescued dogs often have a dreadful story to tell, except they are unable to speak. Rescue organizations, veterinarians, dog trainers, foster parents, and adoptive parents often read cues and see signs in rescue dogs that suggest they've been neglected and/or abused during their lifetime and, unfortunately, perhaps their entire life.
Sometimes, these dogs have post-traumatic stress syndrome, which can make it difficult for them to be trusting of humans. If you are interested in becoming a foster parent for a dog rescue organization, it is crucial that you understand what PTSD is in dogs and how you and your dog trainer can help the dogs in your care overcome it.
Recognizing Canine PTSD
PTSD in dogs occurs in a similar way to that of PTSD in humans. Researchers have found that chronic stress may be a factor in the development of canine PTSD. It's believed that chronic stress changes the biology of the brain that processes memory consolidation, which makes neglected and abused dogs more susceptible to canine PTSD.
Behavioral symptoms of canine PTSD include barking, hypervigilance, aggression, shaking, avoidance, and shyness. Dogs with severe PTSD may pin their tails between their legs, lower their body to the ground, and keep their ears back. Severe PTSD during a stressful situation can cause dilated pupils and rapid breathing.
Treating Canine PTSD
Treatment for canine PTSD is essential to give a previously neglected and abused dog a new life. Treatment can help the dog become a happy and safe family pet so it can be adopted. Behavior modification is a type of dog training that is beneficial in helping dogs overcome their PTSD. Pharmaceuticals and herbal remedies can help while your dog is undergoing behavior modification training.
Using medication and herbs alone will only mask the problem not cure it. Have your veterinarian assess your dog's health and mental state before prescribing a treatment plan. Use medicinal help combined with behavior modification training. Give a list of your dog's medication and herbal remedies to the dog's trainer so he or she is aware of all medications the dog is on.
The first step in the process of behavior modification training is to determine what triggers PTSD in the dog. That way, the dog trainer will be able to develop a program for the dog based on their PTSD triggers. Of course, additional dog training is necessary for dogs that have not been taught manners and those who have not been potty trained.
For more information about dog training, consider contacting companies like DePaul k9 Academy.