How Shaping Training Helps Canines for Heroes Support PTSD Healing

by | Feb 16, 2024 | Belgium Malimois, Dogs, First Responders, German Shepherd Dog, GSD, Service Animals | 0 comments

Canines for Heroes is a non-profit organization that trains service dogs to assist military veterans and first responders who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). One of the most effective methods we use to train our dogs is called shaping. On our YouTube channel @caninesforheroesnptsd1744, we demonstrate what shaping is and how it helps Canines for Heroes’ recipients with PTSD.

Shaping in psychology is a process of training a learned behavior that would not normally occur. In dog training, it involves rewarding behaviors that are progressively closer to the desired outcome until the target behavior is achieved. This approach allows trainers to shape complex behaviors gradually, making it easier for dogs to learn new skills.

At Canines for Heroes, shaping plays an essential role in training service dogs to help recipients with PTSD. The organization focuses on building a strong bond between the dog and the handler by using positive reinforcement techniques. By reinforcing good behavior with treats or praise, Canines for Heroes’ trainers help their dogs learn new behaviors quickly and retain them longer.

The process of shaping begins with basic obedience training, where dogs learn commands like “sit,” “stay,” and “heel.” Once they master these fundamental skills, trainers move on to more advanced ones such as opening doors or turning off lights. For someone with PTSD, having a dog that can perform these tasks can be life-changing.

Through shaping, Canines for Heroes’ recipients can also benefit from living with their trained service dog. As the dog learns new behaviors through shaping, its bond with its handler strengthens. The recipient feels supported by the dog’s presence and learns to trust them more every day.

Another significant advantage of using shaping in dog training is that once the desired behavior is learned, it tends to stick around. That means that even if the recipient has an episode related to their PTSD, their service dog will still be there to help them.

Canines for Heroes’ training program is unique in that it customizes each dog’s training to meet the specific needs of its recipient. Someone with PTSD may have different triggers or needs than someone with a physical disability, so Canines for Heroes’ trainers adjust their shaping techniques accordingly.

Shaping is an essential component of Canines for Heroes’ training program, and it plays a crucial role in helping recipients with PTSD heal. By using positive reinforcement techniques, trainers can shape complex behaviors that make life easier and more manageable for those suffering from PTSD. The bond between the dog and handler strengthens over time as they work together, creating a supportive environment that can help recipients overcome their symptoms. Thanks to shaping, service dogs trained by Canines for Heroes provide life-changing support to those who need it most.

Canines for Heroes is committed to serving those who served us. We are inspired by the potential we see in every canine commitment and grateful for the support we receive from donors like you. Your donations provide much-needed support to Veterans and First Responders’ families. They also help us continue our mission of providing trained service dogs to those in need. As we approach the end of the year, we hope that you will consider giving the Gift of Joy to these deserving families. Together, we can make a difference and improve the lives of our nation’s heroes.