Dog training program helps bring positive outcomes in PTSD treatment: Study
Israel: Findings from a recent study support the beneficial effects of the dog-training program, as either a non-pharmacological intervention or as complementary to anti-depressants for treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The study, published in the European Journal of Psychotraumatology, emphasizes the role of emotional and attentional regulations on the dog–handler...
Israel: Findings from a recent study support the beneficial effects of the dog-training program, as either a non-pharmacological intervention or as complementary to anti-depressants for treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The study, published in the European Journal of Psychotraumatology, emphasizes the role of emotional and attentional regulations on the dog–handler interface.
"One year of the dog-training program reduced PTSD symptoms, defined as a change in CAPS-CA-5 diagnostic status, underlined by physiologically measured attention and emotional regulation," Inon Maoz and colleagues wrote their study. "However, dog-human interaction elevated anxiety and decreased attention in dogs."
PTSD symptoms include re-experiencing, avoidance, hyperarousal, and cognitive impairments, which represent both emotional and cognitive dysregulation. Non-pharmacological techniques, particularly animal-assisted treatment, have been demonstrated to be useful for a range of diseases in recent years, including Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, Autism Spectrum Disorder, and PTSD. However, nothing is known about the reciprocal consequences of animal-human contact in the literature. As a result, this study was carried out with the goal of evaluating the effects of a one-year dog training program on PTSD symptomatology in children with PTSD and on dog behavior.
For this study, fifty-three teenagers who had previously experienced interpersonal trauma were clinically diagnosed with PTSD and randomly allocated to one of two groups: a dog-training program group (n = 30) and a control group (n = 23) that participated in other training programs (e.g. cooking, hairstyling, etc.). The Clinician-Administered PTSD Scale for DSM-5 in Children and Adolescents (CAPS-CA-5) and Beck-Depression Inventory were used to assess both groups at baseline and after 12 months (BDI). Furthermore, both emotional and attention dysregulation were physically examined in this study.
The key findings of this study were as follow:
1. After 12 months of instruction, the dog-training group saw a substantial reduction in PTSD symptomatology, as well as a reduction in depression severity, compared to a negligible recovery in the control group.
2. Furthermore, the dog-training group demonstrated enhanced emotional and attentional management.
3. Measuring the dogs' behavior indicated increased anxiety and lower selective attention performance, which was negatively connected to the good benefits shown in the dog-training program group.
In conclusion, though pharmaceutical therapies improve patients' well-being by treating specific PTSD symptoms, the outcomes of this study revealed that a dog-training program may affect the PTSD diagnostic status and therefore be applied in civilians and soldiers with PTSD.
Maoz I, Zubedat S, Dolev T, et al. Dog training alleviates PTSD symptomatology by emotional and attentional regulation. Eur J Psychotraumatol. 2021;12(1):1995264. Published 2021 Nov 19. doi:10.1080/20008198.2021.1995264
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