OTTAWA - Health Canada is funding special schooling for service-dog trainers to teach the animals to help veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder.

The online training course, funded by the department's Substance Use and Addictions Program, is designed to help trainers prepare service dogs for veterans, including those recovering from substance abuse.

Colleen Dell, an expert in animal-assisted interventions at the University of Saskatchewan, headed the team that designed the toolkit and her research has found that service dogs can significantly help veterans with PTSD.

She says there are over 500 service dogs currently used by veterans in Canada, with more in training.

The dogs are trained to comfort veterans, provide company and support, and wake them up from nightmares.

The online course will be made available to around 40 service-dog training organizations that also train dogs to assist people who are blind, deaf and have other disabilities.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 10, 2021.