The Dog Squad

Companion and Assistance Dogs for Combat Stress and Physical/Mental Illness 

The Young Diggers Dog Squad trains dogs to become Companion and Assistance Dogs to support our serving and ex-serving Australian Defence Force members who are dealing with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorders (PTSD).  This program helps more than just the individuals.

The Dog Squad helps Defence families to better cope with the effects of PTSD and saves the lives of many rescued dogs.

Throughout this program, Young Diggers provides members with help and practical support to enhance the quality of life for both the dog and the individual. 

We are an organisation that does not stigmatise, pass judgement or devalue those living with and suffering from combat stress and mental illness. We provide a safe environment for our members to network with one another, exchange training tips and support one another through tough times.  Family members are welcome and encouraged to get involved with the Dog Squad training.

The Young Diggers Dog Squad program has been developed and is overseen by Steve Austin, a world renowned elite dog trainer. Steve is a Director of Young Diggers and National Manager of the dog squad.

Find out how 'Dog Therapy' has helped some of our members at Our Dog Squad Stories

HOW TO JOIN THE DOG SQUAD.

Step 1: Apply to become a Member Online

Step 2: Complete a Dog Squad Application Form

Further information including suitable dogs can be found on the application page.

Before you apply, we fully expect that you have already covered your bases with regard to therapy, medication, and reading up on your illness.

Interested in joining the Dog Squad?

For many people ‘mental illness’ is still an unsettling term.  Your combat stress may be something that you’ve hidden from others.  

There is no shame or weakness in this. We are deeply moved by the number of diggers experiencing mental illness (combat stress) and we want to do something about it.

The glue to that keeps our Dog Squad community together is 'Dog Medicine'. By training an Assistance Dog yourself, you will inevitably enter a new stage in your healing journey and your ability to cope will improve because:

  • You are no longer alone in this painful journey;

  • You have a soul mate in your dog who is ever-loyal and compassionate; and

  • You have a community that not only accepts you but also understands what you are going through;

The program involves weekly lessons and tasks built in a tiered fashion through to completion of the Assistance dog training. To succeed, you must be committed to completing the training and you will need to build a ‘super-glue’ bond between you and your Four Paws Trainee.

If you are a current or ex-serving member of the ADF and would like to join, please follow the process outlined above.

Support the Dog Squad

The Dog Squad is run entirely by volunteers so help is always appreciated. There are a number of ways you can help.

- Make a Donation

- Apply to be a Volunteer Dog Trainer (Qualified Trainers only)

Thank you for your interest.

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