PTSD: Veterans Paired with Less Excitable Dogs Have Stronger Bonds Interview with:

Clare Jensen O’Haire Research Team Center for the Human-Animal Bond Purdue University College of Veterinary Medicine

Clare Jensen

Clare Jensen
O’Haire Research Team
Center for the Human-Animal Bond
Purdue University College of Veterinary Medicine  What is the background for this study? 

Response: Service dogs for PTSD are becoming more common and the evidence shows they can help improve mental health and quality of life for many veterans with PTSD. However, some veterans benefit more than others. Our research goal was to ask for the very first time: Why?  What are the main findings?

Response: We found that veterans who were paired with less excitable service dogs were more likely to have stronger bonds with their service dogs. There were no effects of service dog breed-composition or origin on any measures of veteran mental health. In other words, mixed-breed dogs and dogs from animal shelters were no less effective than purebred dogs and dogs raised by puppy-raisers. Lastly, we found that lower PTSD symptoms and better mental health were seen among veterans with less excitable service dogs and those with a stronger human-animal bond. What should readers take away from your report?

Response: This study provides new information about how and why service dogs may improve mental health for some veterans with PTSD, but continued research is essential to understand more about these veteran-service dog partnerships. If we can learn which dogs and which human-animal interactions lead to the best outcomes, we can better prepare service dogs to thrive in their roles and help maximize benefits for more service dog and veteran pairs. Is there anything else you would like to add? 

Response: We are especially grateful to the military veterans who were so willing to share their time and experiences with us. Without their contributions, none of this would be possible.


Clare L. Jensen, Kerri E. Rodriguez, Evan L. MacLean, Ahmad Hakeem Abdul Wahab, Arman Sabbaghi, Marguerite E. O’Haire. Characterizing veteran and PTSD service dog teams: Exploring potential mechanisms of symptom change and canine predictors of efficacy. PLOS ONE, 2022; 17 (7): e0269186 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0269186

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Last Updated on July 27, 2022 by Marie Benz MD FAAD