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P.T.S.D. service dog training

TILTON, Ill. (WCIA) --  A shelter dog is being trained to become a support for a veteran who suffers from post traumatic stress disorder.

The American Legion in Georgetown is giving dogs to veterans who need them. Right now, Mid Pro K9 in Tilton has two in training. 

It takes a lot to be qualified for the job, and that's really what this is. It's the dog's full time job to be there for their veteran. 

"Trainable, confident, no aggression issues with people, food or animals."

Jack and Bigfoot are the two in training. They were chosen especially for veterans. 

Tony Piatt says, "We train the dog to watch the veteran at all times, so when the veteran starts to do that trigger so the dog knows to react to it." 

Eventually these dogs will be able to detect the triggers of post traumatic stress disorder. 

"If the veteran starts to have anxiety, shaking the leg, heavy breathing, or even crossing their arms and tightening up. So we train the dog when he sees that to come over and jump on the veteran, maybe bark or lick their face."  

But it takes awhile for them to learn how, especially for Jack because he came from a shelter. Training can take anywhere between 6 months to 2 years. There's a lot of lessons packed into that time. It starts with the basics. Like simple commands and dealing with distractions.

"People walking around, banging chairs, other dogs in there." 

Then the training gets more advanced. 

"Come over there and get their attention, basically jump up on them, lick them, bark at them, so it kind of snaps them out of their daydream." 

Not all dogs are able to handle the responsibilities. But Jack and Bigfood were chosen because they past the first test. 

"Mature enough, so that when it goes out into the public with the veteran that the dog is confident. It's 100% all the way or we can't do it with the dog. That's why they're so unique." 

And in the end...

"The dog is there to say, hey i got you, let's go. And jack will be perfect for that because he's a happy dog." 

This program started a year and a half ago. They've paired veterans with five dogs so far.


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