Service dogs show success in mental health and preventing suicide

Service animals help people struggling with health problems people can’t see.
Published: Sep. 5, 2023 at 6:41 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

AUGUSTA COUNTY, Va. (WHSV) - Every service dog goes through training to help someone struggling with health problems people can’t see.

Hannah Haught, a certified dog trainer, said the needs can be mental and emotional and may require a range of support.

“My training provides a mixture of all. I work with people with post-traumatic stress disorder amongst physical disabilities as well,” Haught said.

Haught trains service dogs to be there for those in need, and said they make a difference. Service dogs go through different trainings that are meant to cater to specific needs.

“Some people may tap their foot a certain way, others may scratch their legs, fidget with their hands. Others are trained to detect alerts based on blood pressure or heart rate, increasing, or even decreasing, depending on certain scenarios,” Haught said.

The goal of the service dog is to be prepared whenever and wherever the trigger is.

“Others can be at home detecting different levels to alert to night terrors,” Haught said.

Haught said they benefit civilians with mental health issues like anxiety and veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

“It does help give them their freedom back in a way through the tasking that they do which end result can prevent suicide,” Haught said.

As needs and demand increase, some dog trainers strive to sharpen their training for the greater good of mental health.

“I personally have been mentoring under other dog trainers, in order to, of course, learn how to offer different services within our community in order to help further spread awareness and offer other types of training as well,” Haught said.

Haught said the goal of service dogs is to have them working 100% of the time.

“Once they’re fully trained. When they’re able to alert to incoming panic attacks and perform deep pressure therapy to help reduce it during the episode — that drastically reduces the episodes or severity,” Haught said.

World Suicide Prevention day, observed on Sept. 10 each year, aims to raise awareness of suicide and suicide prevention.

Haught mentioned September is also National Service Dog Month to appreciate the work they do.