WCC’s Service Dog Training Program
Training a service dog for a fellow Veteran provides a valuable opportunity for a Warrior suffering from psychological injuries to reintegrate into civilian life. As part of their training, Warriors have the responsibility to teach the dogs that the world is a safe place. Through that process, they must convince themselves of the same.
Warrior trainers are taught to praise and provide treats to their dogs when they experience a startling event, such as hearing a car backfire. Rather than turning inward to focus on their past trauma, the trainers must get outside of their own heads to focus on the dogs and their mission to help another Veteran. Additionally, dogs offer opportunities for Warrior trainers – who often isolate themselves from society – to experience positive interactions with members of the community. Their training requires emotionally numb Warriors to demonstrate positive emotion in order to successfully teach their dogs.
Warriors participating in the program have reported that using these positive emotions to praise their dogs has significantly improved their family dynamics, as their children are able to experience and respond to this positive parenting strategy.