Canines take on many roles in the therapy world. They are often employed as service dogs, special needs support dogs, medical assistance dogs, disaster-scene therapy dogs, or Animal Assisted Therapy pets, and companions for people with depression etc. However, the difference between a service dog and a therapy dog, is that service dogs are trained to perform tasks, while therapy dogs provide nothing but consistency and loving companionship to their owner. With little more than solid obedience training, these dogs promise no special skill set other than emotional support and affection. While many of these dogs can be trained as special needs, medical assistance dogs, etc., these breeds below are simply dogs that are known for being steady and comforting comrades.
Therapeutic Dog Breeds
Canines are the tried-and-true preferred animals used in pet therapy. They have the most reliable temperaments and have proven the most reliable species for owners who need to invest in a therapeutic pet. Each of the below breeds bring specific skills to the world of pet therapy. Some dogs provide a strong protective presence, while others are cheerful and happy-go-lucky loyal pups which will lighten any mood. The dog breed should be chosen based on the particular requirements of the individual, and what kind of emotional, mental or physical challenges they are facing.
- Labrador Retriever: This well-rounded breed not only has a substantial presence, but also an incredibly easy-going demeanor perfectly suited for children and adults with emotional and mental handicaps, as well as learning disabilities. They are patient, even-tempered and one of the more dependable dog breeds.
- German Shepherd: These champions are intelligent dogs who bring a strong and protective presence wherever they go. A brilliant combination of gentleness and fortitude make these versatile dogs a good pet for emotionally vulnerable patients.
- Golden Retriever: Like the German Shepherd, these dogs are often employed as medical assistance pets and service dogs. However, Golden Retrievers are well-behaved, steady pets with lots of affection to give. They bond closely with their humans, and are stellar companions for children and families.
- Greyhound: Sleek and swift, the Greyhound is not the first breed one thinks of in terms of therapy. Nevertheless, this breed is quiet, calm and has a low-maintenance coat. They are born cuddle-buddies, happy to snuggle up for hours, or remain close at hand while their owners move about the house. They are sensitive to sights, sounds, body postures and moods, and prove to be both sympathetic and comforting.
- Rottweiler: Though they have a reputation for being fierce, Rottweilers tap into their protective instincts when around vulnerable people. Some of the more valued traits of a therapy dog are consistency, confidence and calmness in every circumstance; these are traits are typically of Rottweiler dogs.
- Saint Bernards: These wooly gentle giants are ideal for struggling children, since they are large and reassuring. They are also responsive and obedient dogs who prove to be very protective. You won’t find a Saint Bernard snapping at any fingers or chasing your children around.
- Beagle: The charming Beagle may not be the brightest bulb in the box, but the breed is a perfect blend of activity and patience. They are friendly, welcoming both strangers and friends alike, and engage peacefully with most other animals. Beagles are a no-stress, no-drama choice and are content to be handled and petted often.
Most dogs are, by nature, comforting and affectionate pets, whether they are considered “ideal therapy dogs” or not. With over a hundred recognized dog breeds, there will be many that qualify as reliable, loving, obedient, patient, consistent and calm. The above dog breeds are just some of the most popular choices in pet therapy.