Dogs are well known to be man’s best friend. Turns out, there can be more to them than play fetch and cuddling. Remarkably, they can distinguish emotions, are empathetic, and adjust to human feelings and communication cues.
Known for being loyal companions, fierce protectors, and even lifesavers, dogs can support you in everything. In the worst of times and if you want to help out other people, some breeds make the best therapy dogs, too.
What Is A Therapy Dog?
Best therapy dogs are volunteered by their owners to provide comfort and affection to other people, whether it be at a school, hospital, retirement home, or any areas of disaster. A therapy dog should be calm, friendly with strangers, and comfortable in new places.
On the other hand, an Emotional Support Dog is prescribed by a mental health professional to be a companion animal who provides mental or emotional therapeutic benefit, or both, to someone of disability through companionship. These emotional support dogs can ease depression, loneliness, anxiety, and other phobias.
Top 7 Dog Breeds for Emotional Support
According to a study, dogs can help a person cope with depression. They can reduce stress levels (cortisol) and can trigger oxytocin– the hormone responsible for increasing trust in humans. Spending time with them can also lessen anxiety and increase endorphins – the body’s natural pain killers. Here are seven of the best dog breeds for therapy:
1. Labrador Retriever
Labrador Retrievers are gentle dogs despite being big and are loved because of their intelligence. They encourage you to perk up when you’re feeling down by being cheerful, outgoing, and friendly. Since they love the outdoors, they would also inspire their owner to do the same.
Labradors are also recognized to be one of the most popular dog breeds. Labrador Retrievers are incredibly loyal, eager to entertain, and are highly-trainable. You can start training them as pups.
Furthermore, Labs can swim. Initially, these dogs were bred to retrieve fishing nets or catch fish that fell back in the water. Certainly, they have the webbed paw and the stamina for swimming.
2. German Shepherd
German Shepherds are known for being an intelligent and calm breed. They are usually companions for a variety of reasons. This breed is highly trainable and can easily adjust to any routine.
Once trained to walk just in the center of the pavement, German Shepherds will continue to do so, unless there’s obstruction. Interestingly, they are also vigilant and can even direct their owners through traffic. Moreover, these therapy dogs are very affectionate and loyal. And fascinatingly, despite their size, are very gentle with kids. All these traits make them one of the best therapy dogs for emotional support.
Beagles are famous for their big, floppy ears, and how they are clean and soft. They are dubbed to be the happy dogs, and they can make people less nervous as they are smaller than the larger, intimating dogs. Moreover, the love they have to give is so immense; they will be all over you the moment they see you.
This breed loves human contact. Beagles are naturally bouncy, always ready to play, and continually wagging his tail. When properly trained, these dogs’ become one of the most friendly breeds out there.
A Beagle is one of the dog breeds that can be an excellent companion to kids at children’s hospitals. Surprisingly, they will also fit right in nursing or retirement homes.
Pugs are a famous breed. They are widely known for their big, puppy eyes and wrinkled face. It may look like they are grumpy, but they’re one of the most naturally lively dogs around. They have an innate desire and energy to make their human feel better and happy. Pugs live to love their humans and be loved in return.
Moreover, they can thrive in both city and country life and are highly trainable. These traits make them ideal house dogs. This breed may not be as energetic and outgoing as other breeds, and they are not very good at swimming, but they still have the energy to keep a room active.
Pugs are friendly with people of all ages, but they mostly get along well with children.
5. Golden Retriever
Golden Retrievers are renowned for being affectionate, comforting, and high-spirited. They are also famous for being well-behaved and obedient, making them easy to train.
If you are depressed or having anxiety attacks lately, their playfulness and being lively is what you need. They are highly devoted and undoubtedly capable of loving their human companions. Golden Retrievers will ecstatically run or fetch with you all day. Interestingly, they can also swim and have webbed feet like Labs.
Furthermore, they are also known to boost the health of their owners.
6. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
These small dogs got their name after British royalty, King Charles II. They were specially bred to be a devoted companion dog. A Cavalier King Charles Spaniel can help people battle depression in a lot of ways – they are easy to train, love cuddling, and are unbelievably affectionate.
Because of being cuddly, they are also nicknamed as the “Love Sponge.” The Spaniels have a great character, and they are eager to please. These traits make them get along well with different people, and you can bring them assisted living homes or in schools.
Their need for daily walks can inspire their human companions to go outside and be active, too. Although they require a lot of grooming, they can also tolerate high temperatures for long.
7. Yorkshire Terrier
Yorkshire Terriers are deemed to be one of the most loyal, loving, and trainable breeds as they are intelligent and can form strong bonds with their carers. If you have a small space or want to bring their dogs anywhere, the size of Yorkshire Terriers would be perfect for you.
As much as possible, they like to be with their owners, which makes them great companions for fighting depression. They are incredibly devoted and are joyful anytime they receive affection and love.
Yorkies are also known to be hypoallergenic, which makes them great playmates for kids.
Of all the animals used in therapy, dogs will always be the most common animal trusted to provide emotional support. The best therapy dogs thrive in improving their human companion’s everyday life – whether it be developing motor skills, fostering trust, or just communicating. There’s a certain level of compassion, patience, affection, and therapeutic effect that only they can seem to provide.
Lazhar is the founder of Breeding Business, an online platform educating ethical and responsible dog breeders one article at a time. He is the proud pet parent of Nala, a beautiful brown female Border Collie.