Date of Award


Document Type



James Morgan


As the rate of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) continues to increase among our veterans returning from the War on Terror, the need for alternative treatment options is becoming more critical. One such alternative is the use of psychiatric service dogs specially trained to assist those living with PTSD. However, little empirical research has been conducted to support the legitimacy of this treatment option. This present study sought to explore the benefits that could be gained from the use of a service dog to treat PTSD by exploring relevant literature. The training the dogs receive as well as the possible problems with utilizing this treatment option are discussed. To deepen the implication of the study, a summative content analysis was performed on ten testimonies from veterans who have received a service dog to ameliorate the symptoms of their PTSD. Many subthemes were extracted through this process, but the dominant theme was one of hope and gaining a new "leash" on life. Although this present study did not provide empirical evidence to support this treatment option, it did allow for implications to be drawn from the analysis of the testimonies and provided possible reasons why service dogs are able to help relieve the symptoms of this disorder.